FAA Completes Four Pilots in Its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program
The four pilots cover a wide range of applications for commercial drones, including healthcare materials delivery in North Carolina, consumer delivery in Virginia, providing bait to capture feral hogs in Oklahoma, and a beyond line of visual sight flights aimed at agricultural applications in Kansas.
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Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week provided updates on four successful flights in states across the U.S. as part of its Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program to get more unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the national airspace.
In an email newsletter, the FAA said four successful flights in North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma “demonstrate how the FAA’s program awardees are using drones in innovative ways to assist their communities in their day-to-day duties.”
Earlier this year, the FAA named 10 companies and programs to participate in the UAS Integration Pilot Program.
It is designed to create a new regulatory framework for the safe drone integration into the national airspace.
In August 2016, the FAA created rules that required commercial drone operators to register their drone, fly at or below 400 feet and within line of sight, and be aware of FAA airspace restrictions.
In July, the agency said more than 100,000 people obtained a Remote Pilot Certificate to fly drones for commercial or recreational use.
The agency has also awarded Part 107 Waivers that would let pilots fly in special circumstances, including flying at night, directly over people, flying multiple aircraft, above 400 feet, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), or flying near airports or controlled airspace.
Since 2016, more than 1,800 waivers have been issued to operators across the U.S., with California leading the U.S. with 228 total waivers issued.
In the drone integration program, the latest successful flight was WakeMed Health and Hospitals, which flew a Matternet drone in Raleigh, N.C. It demonstrated how drones can be used to deliver medical supplies to rural patients.
Other flights noted by the FAA include:
- The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership completed a long-distance drone delivery test, delivering an ice-cream cone to a child.
- The Kansas Department of Transportation flew a BVLOS flight, where almost 50 people watched a demonstration where drones were flown beyond pilots’ sight.
- In Oklahoma, the Choctaw Nation and FAA used drones to help bait feral hog traps.
Earlier this year, Dan Elwell, the Acting Administrator of the FAA, talked about the FAA being “open for business” in terms of how the agency wanted to actively collaborate with drone industry stakeholders.
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