Washington, D.C. – The White House announced Wednesday that it will direct Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to initiate a pilot program for local drone rules and regulations through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The proposal mirrors an amendment to the Aviation, Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act cosponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Vice-Ranking Member Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5).
Drones often fly at far lower altitudes than commercial aircraft, creating concerns among advocates for privacy and safety. A 2015 YouTube video of a Central Connecticut State University student’s “Flying Gun” drone alarmed local law enforcement and families concerned with future attempts to weaponize the craft. Esty’s amendment and the new FAA program aim to protect families’ safety and privacy from the improper use of drones.
“New technologies like drones have the potential to transform our economy and create jobs, but we need to make sure we’re guarding against their potential misuse,” Esty said. “It is simple common sense that the local authorities who know their communities best should have jurisdiction over the immediate airspace where drones operate. I am glad to see a bipartisan commitment to balancing our encouragement of new technologies with the need to preserve safety and security.”
The FAA’s program will delegate some authority over low-altitude flights to enhance communities’ ability to set commonsense rules for drone use. The first pilot programs are to begin within a year, and the parameters of each program will be determined by the jurisdictions that petition the FAA to be selected.