Amazon’s Misener urges US to develop rules for drones operating “beyond visual line of sight”
Paul Misener, Vice President for Global Public Policy at Amazon, will be giving testimony at a US Congress Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing today – and he is expected to argue that “the United States should immediately begin to plan and develop rules for small unmanned aerial systems operations that would encompass highly automated flight, beyond visual line of sight”. Misener is due to give his testimony at the hearing later this morning, but an advance copy of his written submission has already been posted on the Oversight Committee’s official website.
(Misener has been having a busy week in Washington: as reported by Post&Parcel, he also spoke yesterday (16 June) at a subcommittee hearing about the disparity in domestic and international shipping rates at the US Postal Service.)
In his written submission on the drones issues, Misener elaborated: “Importantly, sUAS with increased technical capabilities to detect and avoid aircraft, structures, and other obstacles should be permitted to operate beyond visual line of sight. Likewise, highly-automated UAS vehicles should be allowed to fly if they meet performance-based safety requirements, and thus a single sUAS operator should be allowed to oversee simultaneous operation of multiple highly-automated sUAS vehicles. Also, UAS should be permitted to transport property, including as an external load, for compensation.
“Four other important considerations merit attention from U.S. policymakers.
“First, the FAA, working with industry and other parties, such as NASA, should develop a regulatory structure for commercial and other sUAS operations at low altitudes, say, below 500 feet above ground.
“Second, given the interstate nature of commercial sUAS operations, states and localities must not be allowed to regulate sUAS that the FAA has authorized, including with respect to airspace, altitude, purpose of operations, performance, and operator qualifications. Uniform federal rules must apply.
“Third, and similarly, internationally harmonized rules are highly desirable, and ideally would be developed through multinational aviation bodies like JARUS (the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems) or ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization). Such harmonization should be an FAA priority.
“And fourth, commercial wireless spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed, and commercial wireless spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed, and commercial wireless networks, managed by commercial wireless carriers, must be deemed adequate for sUAS communications functions, including for control links, collision avoidance, diagnostics, and payload communications.”
Misener second consideration – the uniform application of federal rules – is particularly significant. As previously reported by Post&Parcel, the FAA is working to regulate this sector and a plethora of local and state rules would not be helpful.
The hearing began at 09:00 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) – we were about 30 minutes into the hearing at the time of publishing this article.
Other speakers giving testimony include: Michael Whitaker, Deputy Administrator of the FAA; John Cavolowsky, Director of the Airspace Systems Program Office at NASA; and Brian Wynne, President and CEO of Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International; and Harley Geiger, from the Center for Democracy and Technology
The session is currently streaming life on the Committee’s official website. Click here to access.