President Trump and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program today — an initiative aimed at exploring expanded use of drones. This new program will allow companies and local governments to use drones in ways that the Federal Aviation Administration currently doesn’t allow. That includes “beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, nighttime operations, and flights over people,” as White House advisor Michael Kratsios said today.
“This program supports the President’s commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives. Drones are proving to be especially valuable in emergency situations, including assessing damage from natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes and the wildfires in California,” Secretary Chao said in a statement. Kratsios also said that it could “open the skies for delivery of life-saving medicines and commercial packages, inspections of critical infrastructure, support for emergency management operations.”
The Department of Transportation said in a statement, “The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, counter-UAS security operations, and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.” To participate in the program, local governments should partner with private sector groups and develop proposals. The DOT will then select at least five proposals for participation. More information on how to apply and how the program will function will be released in the next few days.