Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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28 unmanned systems inside   June/July 2017 That funding stream f luctuating up and down has made it very difficult to modernize the sys- tem." Williams would know. He spent six years coordinating and integrating the engineering work for NextGen—the FAA's ATC moderniza- tion program. Congress could just fix the problem by giving the aviation agency steady, dedicated and pref- erably multi-year funding. That seems unlikely at best because Congress is itself a significant part of the problem. It took lawmakers seven years and 23 extensions to complete the 2012 reauthorization, and that bill extended the FAA's operations for just three years—to Sep- tember 30, 2015, after which still more exten- sions were necessary. All of this has fueled fury within the airlines and left a large segment of the aviation commu- nity, including a swath of the FAA's own staff, anxious to spin off America's ATC system into a separate entity as many other nations have done— a position the current administration supports. "Our air traffic control system was designed when roughly 100,000 people f lew at our air- ports each year," President Donald Trump said when announcing a push for ATC privatization as part of his infrastructure improvement plan. "We are now approaching nearly one billion passengers annually. The current system can- not keep up—hasn't been able to keep up for many years." WASHINGTON VIEW by DEE ANN DIVIS The administration is proposing to keep the regulatory and safety functions in the FAA while allowing a nonprofit to take over day-to-day flight operations. That new organization is expected to have more flexibility plus access to capital mar- kets—based on its income from user fees—so it can borrow, modernize and stretch to accommo- date new developments like unmanned aircraft. Integrating Drones "Drones are the new frontier of aviation and the Administration is committed to making America the world leader in UAS technologies and applications," Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told a June 8 hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and In- frastructure. While the Department of Transportation and the FAA are uniquely positioned to assimilate UAS, she said, they are not adequately equipped. "It is a priority of this Administration to fully and expeditiously integrate drones into the NAS (national airspace system) so that they may op- erate harmoniously, side-by-side with manned aircraft," said Chao in her written statement. "Safely integrating new entrants, such as drones, into the NAS will require a flexible governance framework that can adapt to new capabilities, technologies and users and effectively coordi- nate with all stakeholders." The drone community is carefully assessing how a differently structured ATC would relate to the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) being developed by NASA. "ATC reform is a complex issue with many variables that we're monitoring closely given that any future UAS Traff ic Management (UTM) system will need to be interoperable with the ATC system," said Brian Wynne, presi- dent and CEO of AUVSI, in a statement. Given that a UTM would most likely be op- erated by the private sector, the two systems might mesh well. "With the way that UTM is being built, w ith private industr y likely being the air President Donald Trump announces his administration's support for turning America's traffic control system over to a self- financing, non-profit organization. Photo courtesy of The White House.

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