Federal UAV pilot program to expand drone use

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao made the announcement yesterday

October 26, 2017

President Trump and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao have announced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at exploring expanded use of drones. The new program will allow companies and local governments to use drones in ways that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently restricts. That includes “beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, nighttime operations, and flights over people,” said White House advisor Michael Kratsios.

Secretary Chao said in a statement: “This program supports the President's commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives. Drones are proving to be especially valuable in emergency situations, including assessing damage from natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes and the wildfires in California.”

The USDOT’s statement went on to state: “The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot's line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, counter-UAS security operations, and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.”

In order to participate in the program, local governments are asked partner with private sector groups and develop proposals. The DOT will then select at least five proposals for participation. More information on how to apply and how the program will function will be released in the next few days.