AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale and President & CEO Michael Toscano have requested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) focus on its commitment to innovative partnerships and proceed with the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). The selection of six UAS test sites has been delayed by more than three months so far, despite a congressionally mandated timetable for the site selection process and overall integration.
Recently, the FAA has begun citing privacy issues as a reason for delaying UAS integration. However, the primary mission of the FAA is safety. The establishment of UAS test sites will help the FAA establish safety criteria for UAS, which is a completely separate issue from privacy concerns. Yet, in a letter to Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) earlier this month, Acting FAA Admistrator Michael Huerta wrote that the FAA must fulfill its obligations in a manner that, among other goals, “addresses privacy issues.”
AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale and President & CEO Michael Toscano today released the following statement:
“Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) hold tremendous potential to keep the public safe, create lasting jobs, boost local economies and further advance the U.S. as a leader in technology and innovation. That’s why, in February of this year, Congress required the FAA to safely integrate UAS into the U.S. airspace by September 2015.
“Congress had the foresight to lay out a multi-year timetable for the integration of UAS, so all stakeholders would have time to work collaboratively to advance this technology in a safe and responsible manner. The FAA should adhere to the will of Congress as well as focus on the agency’s stated mission of providing ‘the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.’
“AUVSI and its members are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure privacy concerns are addressed while advancing this beneficial technology, and work is ongoing in this area. To date, AUVSI has met with a nearly a dozen privacy and civil liberties organizations, in addition to over 100 congressional offices, and AUVSI recently adopted an industry code of conduct that addresses privacy.
“There is also already a growing consensus among law enforcement agencies about the proper use of UAS. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) adopted UAS guidelines that have won praise from the ACLU. Three other law enforcement associations subsequently endorsed the IACP guidelines.
“As an industry, we support a continued, civil dialogue on privacy, but any such conversations should take place concurrent with the integration. The selection process for the six test sites are a separate issue and should be treated as such. Meanwhile, the FAA should adhere to its mission and do what it does best – focus on the safety of the U.S. airspace – while other, more appropriate institutions consider privacy issues.
“We request the FAA to immediately announce its UAS test site selection process to move UAS integration forward without further delay.”