FAA Outlines Unmanned Aircraft Integration Goals

 - November 12, 2013, 2:15 PM

The FAA released its first five-year unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “roadmap” on Friday, providing guidance on how the agency intends to introduce remotely piloted aircraft into the National Airspace System. The document describes the expected transition in standards, regulations, aircraft certification, training requirements and technology over broad periods of “accommodation, integration” and “evolution” through 2026.

According to the plan, the FAA will apply “special mitigations and procedures” to current UAS case-by-case over the next five years, the period it calls accommodation. It will issue certification requirements for pilots and crewmembers of small UAS (sUAS) weighing less than 55 pounds, including payload operators, launch and recovery specialists and visual observers, with expected publication of the sUAS regulation next year.

Pilot and crew certification requirements for other UAS classes will be published by 2017. “UAS training standards will mirror manned aircraft training standards to the maximum extent possible,” the document states. Congress required the agency to produce the roadmap, which will be updated annually, in the 2012 FAA reauthorization act. The FAA also released a privacy policy that will apply to the operators of six UAS test ranges it plans to select by year-end.