FAA Outlines Challenges of Unmanned Aircraft

 - January 8, 2007, 5:45 AM

Testifying recently before the House aviation subcommittee on unmanned aircraft (UA), FAA associate administrator for aviation safety Nicholas Sabatini outlined the challenges of integrating UAs into the National Airspace System. Sabatini explained that operations of UAs are currently approved under two means–certificates of authorization (COA) for government agencies and experimental airworthiness certificates for private industry. Both processes involve visual monitoring requirements for UA flights and limiting where and when they may fly. According to Sabatini, in the past two years the FAA has issued more than 50 COAs and expects to issue a “record number of COAs” this year. In addition, he said, “We have issued two experimental certificates and expect to issue at least two more this year.” Despite all of the FAA’s imposed limitations, formidable challenges remain. Said Sabatini: “Currently there is no recognized technology solution that could make these aircraft capable of meeting regulatory requirements for see and avoid, and command and control.”