House Bill Advances Federal Drone Delivery & Management Regulations

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) introduced a House bill that would set deadlines for the FAA and Department of Transportation to create a cohesive blueprint for the commercial use of drones.

Sean Gallup / Getty

We at The Drive Aerial have been keeping a close eye on federal drone legislation, which aim to construct cohesive regulation for private and corporate unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use. Only last month did we report on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and their proposed drone registry for hobbyists being deemed unconstitutional. The government seems keenly intent on resolving these intricate regulations and restrictions which have been argued over for the past year, and last week we saw President Trump invite four of the most significant drone companies in the world to the White House for a sit-down. Well, things are moving even more rapidly than we thought. Yesterday a House panel approved Rep. Bill Shuster's (R-Pa) legislation that would set rules for drone deliveries, beyond-line-of-sight drone operation, and agreeing on a unified air traffic management system. 

With the incredible increase in both corporate use of drones and their urge to boost profits and increase efficiency by implementing drone delivery into their business models, and recreational hobbyists having very capable flying vehicles at their disposal, the demand for an overall set of rules, regulations, and restrictions is at an all-time high. The federal government is meeting with executives from some of the most sophisticated drone tech leaders around. Businesses in the anti-drone tech field are flourishing. Drones are new and the dust has barely settled, but creating a blueprint for the standards of corporate use is smart and necessary if these things are to become common, profitable practice in the future. 

Though previous congressional drone regulation deadlines have been missed by the FAA before, it seems as though the current momentum can not be stopped, or is at least promising. The CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Brian Wynne, said these recent developments "represent a strong and sustained commitment for the growth" of the drone industry. Pentagon departments such as DARPA and corporations like NASA have already begun developing a wide variety of drone tech like air traffic management systems that could regulate thousands of UAVs in the air at one time. This will all become very necessary to have in place for overall legislations such as the House bill in question, which calls for the secretary of transportation to decide within 120 days whether or not air traffic management systems are a viable choice for the problem at hand, while giving the FAA 18 months to decide the same issue for UAVs that reach up to 400ft. 

Wynne is a big advocate, stating that this would be a "responsible and reasonable approach" to this complex problem. This is all very much in the air as of yet, and finalizing all the various intricacies of an issue as tricky is this will take some time. It's not easy to set new federal standards that involve transportation, aviation, security, and privacy, and compromises from all entities involved will be required. It is great to see, however, that this issue is not only stalled or forgotten, but very relevant and highly focused on. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any new developments. Stay tuned.