Senate bill would foster drone development, facilities


Hoping to bring new support to the Federal Aviation Administration's efforts to register privately owned and operated unmanned aircraft and to integrate them into national airspace, four senators have introduced a bill that would pave the way for wider use of the technology.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced The Safe DRONE Act of 2017 on June 22.

The legislation, they said in a joint statement, will boost development of the technology in the U.S., build on the FAA's efforts to safely integrate them into the national airspace with commercial aircraft and develop new air traffic control systems that can take the rapidly increasing number of unmanned aircraft into account.

The FAA's effort to get the hundreds of thousands of owners of small hobby drones to register their aircraft through a website was struck down by a federal judge in May because it said the agency lacked the authority to regulate the technology. The new legislation, the senators said, would grant the FAA that authority.

The proposed law also includes language that would tap NASA and the Department of Transportation to develop a low-altitude traffic management system, and establish an interagency working group of stakeholders that would address short and long-term communications and spectrum needs for the technology.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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