U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) successfully concluded on Oct. 25. Eight of the nine state, local and tribal governments that participated in the program have signed new agreements with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to tackle remaining UAS integration challenges.
“The three years of information gathered under the drone Integration Pilot Program will be applied to a new initiative called BEYOND, which will further advance the safe integration of drones into our national air space,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
“The IPP propelled the American drone industry forward, allowing for unprecedented expansions in testing and operations through innovative private-public partnerships across the country. Now, the BEYOND program will build upon this success, tackling the next big challenges facing drone integration. The Trump Administration remains committed to the safe and innovative development of drone technologies for the benefit of the American people,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.
A Presidential Memorandum launched the IPP in October 2017, setting off a competitive selection process from 149 applicants. Using innovative strategies, the IPP participants and their industry partners crafted successful safety cases to operate under the FAA’s existing regulations. Participants used the regulations to conduct package delivery, inspect pipelines and power lines, assess flood damage, count cattle, respond to 911 calls, inspect aircraft and many other missions. The data from these flights has informed ongoing rulemaking, policy and guidance, and will continue to support future efforts.
“At the onset of the public health emergency, many of the IPP participants were able to pivot from their original missions to support the COVID-19 response and recovery, demonstrating the increasing value of drone operations in this new environment,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
Eight of the nine participants selected for IPP will participate in BEYOND, including:
- Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority of Virginia
- Kansas Department of Transportation
- Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- North Dakota Department of Transportation
- City of Reno, Nevada
- University of Alaska-Fairbanks