The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System

On November 7, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a roadmap intended to facilitate the smooth integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). This integration would provide an abundance of new opportunities and uses for UAS while reducing safety risks and current operating costs for public and private sector operators in the NAS. UAS integration would also provide commercial enterprises and public operators a chance to increase operational efficiency and productivity. This next step in airspace evolution requires interdisciplinary collaboration to ensure the preservation of safety, privacy, and of the high standards that have guided the FAA to this point.

Integrating UAS into the NAS will take place in several steps. The first step is the roadmap released by the FAA on November 7. This plan outlines new policies and regulations as well as those that need revision, training and continued education materials, and procedural material for the integration process. The next step is to test methods of integration at six test sites, chosen from the 25 applicants shown in the image on this page. These test sites will produce valuable data on the optimal way to integrate UAS into the NAS. This integration process will require a long-term commitment to critical research and material development by the FAA and cooperation from private operators.