Unmanned Aircraft in U.S. Airspace is Inevitable

 - August 26, 2011, 7:10 AM

GA representatives accept the inevitability of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flying in civil airspace, but urge their safe introduction. “[AOPA is] certainly an advocate of new aircraft entering the airspace system. It’s a matter of doing that safely,” Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization, told attendees at the Unmanned Systems North America conference last month. Unmanned aircraft in the U.S. can operate only in restricted airspace or through certificates of authorization or special airworthiness-experimental category issued by FAA to public agencies and companies, respectively. A proposed rulemaking governing operation of small UAS–50 pounds or lighter–is anticipated by December, with a final rule in mid-2013. In June, the FAA established an aviation rulemaking committee to consider larger UAS operations in U.S. airspace.