ARLINGTON, Va., 20 Nov. 2012. AUVSI officials are calling for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to proceed with the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA has delayed its selection of six UAS test sites by more than three months, even in the face of the congressionally mandated timetable for the site selection process and overall integration.
FAA officials indicate that privacy issues related to UAS integration in the NAS are responsible for the delay. In fact, AUVSI leaders cite a letter to Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) in which Acting FAA Admistrator Michael Huerta wrote that the FAA must fulfill its obligations in a manner that, among other goals, “addresses privacy issues.” The position of AUVSI and other industry associations is that the FAA should concern itself with its mission of ensuring airspace safety, and that the issue of privacy would be better served by another organization.
AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale and President/CEO Michael Toscano have issued 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 in order to move UAS integration forward without further delay.”