DMA Letter to President on UAS Pilot Program

Contact: Kara Calvert, Executive Director

October 11, 2017

President Donald J. Trump The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC 20006

Dear President Trump:

Innovation has been integral to America’s economic success and it will also play a crucial role in its future. A technology that shows great promise and tremendous benefits to continue moving our nation’s economy forward is unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which is forecast to create more than 100,000 jobs and over $82 billion in economic impact over the next decade.

However, much needs to be done to realize these gains. In a recent speech at a UAS industry conference, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios noted, “The federal government can’t do it all – we need partners who can stand up and serve as models for this industry, demonstrating to the rest of the world how to deploy this technology correctly, smartly and safely.”

We completely agree and have long said that government-industry collaboration is key to unlocking the tremendous societal and economic benefits of UAS.

In his speech, Mr. Kratsios also highlighted the opportunities of working across federal, state, local and tribal lines toward a common goal of safely integrating UAS into the national airspace. For months, we have advocated on Capitol Hill for a pilot program that allows state and local governments, along with UAS industry stakeholders, to develop a coordinated effort with the FAA concerning UAS airspace integration. We are pleased that your administration has also identified this as a sensible approach.

A pilot program would allow for a data-driven process, within a controlled operational environment, to explore the best options for states and municipalities to address their needs, as it relates to different types of UAS operations. Additionally, a pilot program is the best option for informing future regulatory and congressional action that will help enhance innovation and increase economic impact.

Overall though, the FAA sovereignty of the national airspace must not be compromised. Federal control of the airspace is a bedrock principle of aviation law that dates back over 50 years, and is the primary reason the United States maintains an aviation safety record that is the envy of the world. Maintaining the FAA’s authority helps keep the skies safe for all aircraft – manned and unmanned.

We greatly appreciate your attention to this matter, and we look forward to continue working with your administration and Congress to ensure the United States remains a leader in UAS and the broader aviation sector.