Unmanned Aerial Systems: FAA Continues Progress toward Integration into the National Airspace, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 2MB]

"UASs [unmanned aerial system] are aircraft that do not carry a pilot aboard, but instead operate on pre-programmed routes or are manually controlled by following commands from pilot-operated ground control stations. Unauthorized UAS operations have, in some instances, compromised safety. The FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 directed FAA to take actions to safely integrate UASs into the national airspace. In response, FAA developed a phased approach to facilitate integration and established test sites among other things. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to review FAA's progress in integrating UASs. This report addresses (1) the status of FAA's progress toward safe integration of UASs into the national airspace, (2) research and development support from FAA's test sites and other resources, and (3) how other countries have progressed toward UAS integration into their airspace for commercial purposes. GAO reviewed and analyzed FAA's integration-planning documents; interviewed officials from FAA and UAS industry stakeholders; and met with the civil aviation authorities from Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. These countries were selected based on several factors including whether they have regulatory requirements for commercial UASs, operations beyond the view of the pilot, and whether non-military UAS are allowed to operate in the airspace. In comments on this report, the Department of Transportation noted that GAO did not address environmental considerations of UAS integration; such considerations were outside the scope of this report."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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