Drone Integration: Taking A Team Approach
For three years, the FAA collaborated with drone manufacturers, public officials, universities and other stakeholders through the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), with everyone involved focused on one common goal: safely integrating drones into the National Airspace (NAS). But when the IPP ended last October, the work wasn’t done—which is why many of the teams are continuing their efforts through the new BEYOND program.
While much progress was made during IPP, such as establishing guidance for ops over people, there’s still a need for technological standards and a more robust regulatory framework, according to an FAA spokesperson. To get there, BEYOND will focus on operating drones under established rules rather than waivers, type certifying aircraft, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, addressing community feedback, understanding the societal benefits UAS provide and streamlining the approval process for UAS integration.
Enabling BVLOS operations without visual observers is also a primary focus. The goal is to make these flights repeatable, scalable and economically viable. That will take developing standards for command and control (C2) and detect and avoid (DAA).
Within BEYOND, eight of the nine IPP teams will work closely with their partners to meet these objectives over the coming years, with package delivery, infrastructure inspection and public safety the main areas being explored. The collaborations the BEYOND program fosters are vital to moving the drone industry forward, and getting to a place where communities and other industries can realize the full benefits of this technology.