UAVs: FAA fails to meet national UAV regulation deadline

Oct. 2, 2015

The agency is still sifting through some 4,500 queries to its proposed set of regs

The Federal Aviation Administration failed to meet its deadline, set for this week, for creating national unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations.

In 2012, Congress tasked the FAA with finding a way to integrate UAVs in commercial airspace. Yet, at present, commercial UAV operators work in a regulatory gray zone, unable to operate without securing a Section 333 exemption—which has been previously reported on by Roads & Bridges. As of this month, 1,800 Section 333 exemptions have been handed out, according to the FAA.

A public commentary period, which closed this past April, allowed any and all concerned parties to issue comment and query to the FAA regarding its proposed set of regulations. An FAA spokesman told Roads & Bridges that some 4,500 responses were received and that sifting through and addressing them would likely take more time than Congress had allowed in 2012. The FAA is statutorily required to reply to each query, some of which will take place individually, some in designated groupings based on topic (i.e. safety remarks or operational remarks).

"We have been consistent in saying that we're going to move as quickly as possible," the FAA spokesperson said, "but the integration of unmanned aircraft into the nation's airspace is going to have to proceed on an incremental basis."  Final rules for UAV flight should be in place "late next spring."

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