FAA selects MAPPS for beyond visual line of sight UAS work

By Emily Aasand | September 18, 2014

The Management Associate for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) has been selected as a member of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) working group on unmanned aircraft systems. The national association of private sector geospatial firms is the only representative of the geospatial, aerial survey and remote sensing community on the committee.

The FAA has tasked the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to provide input from users or potential users of UAS on immediate, near- and long-term issues for integrating UAS into the national airspace system.

“As an association, we will be reaching out to our members, gathering information about what their long term interests are, what kinds of projects they anticipate they’ll be working on, what kinds of clients they’ll be working with or what types of applications they’ll be utilizing UAS where the mission will be beyond the line of sight, and then representing those interests on the committee,” said John Palatiello, MAPPS executive director.

The Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) is looking at beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) use of UAS which is the next group of regulations that the FAA will be writing after establishing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is anticipated to come out later this year.

“What the FAA proposes in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on lighter, smaller line of sight UAS authority is going to be very valuable to us as we look at BVLOS,” said Palatiello. “So while the FAA is working on the shorter-term rule, we’re obviously going to take into consideration what they propose, but we will begin developing recommendations to them on the longer-term BVLOS.”

MAPPS has been engaged with the UAS office of FAA for several years, which Palatiello believes played a factor in being selected for the committee.

“Our engagement with the FAA on the issue of UAS goes back to 2008, so we have been anticipating the emergence of this market and expressing to key target audiences our interest in operating commercially,” said Palatiello.

Palatiello also believes that MAPPS was chosen for the committee based on their existing relationships with the FAA and AUVSI, their general advocacy, and that because the FAA identified aerial surveying as one of the key industries of professions for UAS use.

“As an association representing the many private sector businesses that are anxious to use unmanned aerial systems for commercial geospatial applications, we are honored to participate on this important committee,” said Palatiello. “The geospatial community has been safely flying aircraft for decades and understands the safety implications of introducing a new technology in the national airspace. Our members see a great opportunity to utilize UAS to provide new geospatial data and applications benefiting the citizens of the United States.”

MAPPS formed in 1982 and its membership includes member firms working on satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversation services, among other service providers.