FAA: We Plan To Meet September 2015 UAV Integration Deadline

When Jim Williams, manager of the FAA’s Office of Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration, spoke at the Delta AgTech Symposium at the Memphis, TN, Agricenter on Tuesday (July 8), UAS enthusiasts had their questions ready, reports website UASVision.com.

Williams, a veteran of the aerospace industry and NASA who took over the Office of UAS Integration two years ago, had barely finished speaking when he was asked why the agency was taking nearly five years to write the regulations. “Why don’t you just do your job?” a clearly frustrated questioner demanded.

“I am doing my job,” said Williams. “Congress directed us to do a lot of work, but they did not exempt us from any of the procedures that they put in place that govern the rulemaking process. The bottom line is since I’ve come on board we’ve made it a priority for the agency, and we’re moving faster than we ever have.”

Williams said the FAA has been providing some exemptions by granting certificates of authority or COAs under a section of the FAA Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012. “We’re doing that to try to jumpstart the industry to avoid having to wait to do anything until that rule comes out.”

The questioner also asked about one of Williams’ presentation slides, which depicted a crop duster and a UAV in close proximity in a field. “I can’t envision any situation in which a farmer would allow such a thing to occur,” he said.

‘Fly by themselves’

“I always thought the same thing you did – that you would never have an agricultural aircraft do an application on the same field where someone was doing a crop survey because the farmer would know,” said Williams.

“What I didn’t know until I talked to Stirling Wiggins (a National Agricultural Aviation Association representative who also spoke at the Ag Tech Symposium) was that aerial applicators fly low from where they take off to where they do their application and fly back. They don’t go up to 500 feet and stay above; they follow the knap of the earth the whole time.

“So you could be surveying your crops – and most of these crop survey aircraft you tell them where the boundaries of the field are and they fly themselves. You’re not controlling it like a model aircraft, it’s doing its own thing.”

Model aircraft hobbyists usually spend hours putting their machines together and learning to fly them. Once they start flying, they follow the FAA rules that such aircraft must be kept in sight by the operator at all times.

“When that airplane comes zipping across to its crop dusting field that’s a mile away, and you just happen to be between it and the airport, you got to be watching out for it,” he said. “These new high-tech ‘drones,’ as they’re called, you don’t have to know how to fly. You just tell them go up, and it goes up to 2,000 feet right into the path of an airplane.”

The FAA is determined to avoid such mishaps. “If we have a manned aircraft vs. unmanned aircraft collision, then things are going to get ugly. What I’m trying to do is prevent that from happening.”

Five-year Road Map

Williams said Congress provided a five-year roadmap for the agency when it passed the FAA Modernization Act in 2012. The Act requires the FAA to finalize the regulations for the “introduction of civilian unmanned aircraft systems into the national aerospace system.”

The regulations are supposed to be in place by September 2015. For many UAV adherents that obviously won’t be soon enough.

Currently, about 600 UAV or UAS operations, mostly conducted by the government through law enforcement agencies, have been approved by the FAA. The agency has also been moving to authorize some commercial operations along with the creation of six test range locations.

“We call the phase we’re in now accommodation, and we’re working toward integration where operations are a lot more routine, and people can get approved and move through the system as we intend them to,” said Williams.

“In the long-term, which is also talked about in our roadmap, we’re going to integrate the unmanned aircraft into that future national aerospace system which is being built under a collection of programs called NexGen.”

The agency plans to release its initial interpretation of the rules in October or November of this year, says Williams. That will be followed by a public comment period of 60 to 90 days. The FAA must then assess those comments and write the final regulations.

Many comments expected

“If we receive 50,000 comments, and we believe it’s possible we will, each of those must be given a disposition before we can proceed with writing the regulations,” he noted. “But we plan to meet the 2015 deadline.”

The six UAS testing sites, which will be located at the University of Alaska, the state of Nevada, New York Griffis International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and Virginia Tech, were approved late last year.

“We had 25 applications from 24 states, which, to me, is amazing because there was no federal money to go to the test sites,” said Williams. “It was strictly just a declaration that they were official test sites.”

Five of the test sites are now operational and the sixth – New York – is expected to be up and running in the fall.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “FAA: We Plan To Meet September 2015 UAV Integration Deadline

Data Management Stories
Data ManagementNew Partnerhship Between AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Will Create Single Source Reference Data API
January 18, 2017
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference Read More
Data ManagementProspera Selected for Top 100 Artificial Intelligence Rankings
January 11, 2017
CB Insights today selected Prospera to the prestigious Artificial Intelligence 100 list (“AI 100”), a select group of emerging private Read More
Corn Field
Data ManagementWaypoint Analytical, Highland Precision Ag Announce Strategic Alliance
January 9, 2017
Waypoint Analytical (WP), based in Memphis, TN, and Highland Precision Ag (HPA), based in Mulberry, FL, are pleased to announce Read More
Wade Barnes Farmers Edge using FarmCommand
Data ManagementFarmers Edge Makes Precision Ag Simple
January 3, 2017
Jon Labine of Argyle, MN, is a regional sales representative for Farmers Edge Inc., one of the latest entries in Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
PrecisionAg Professional logo
Industry NewsMeister Media Debuts PrecisionAg Professional
December 13, 2016
Agricultural technology is accelerating, and precision agriculture is gaining renewed interest across cropping systems. At the same time, growers are Read More
NDSU IoT
Sensors/IoTNew Farming Focused IoT Partnership Announced
December 13, 2016
Infiswift, an enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) platform developer, announces a partnership to develop IoT solutions with Acuitus Ag, an Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
Data ManagementFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Latest News
Sonny Perdue
Business ManagementAg Tech CEOs Weigh In On Trump’s Pick For Ag Secr…
January 20, 2017
With President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Sonny Perdue as the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, it brings a new set Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
EventsRetailers, Consultants Untangle Software Decision Proce…
January 19, 2017
Today, business and agronomy management software is the engine that facilitates a smooth running ag business. The next software decision Read More
Ag Weather Service
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Will Amazon’s Alexa Control the Fami…
January 19, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnerhship Between AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Wil…
January 18, 2017
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Ag Tech GlobalAg Technology Among Focus Areas For Kohli Impact Invest…
January 18, 2017
Tej Kohli, a serial entrepreneur, global businessman and philanthropist, has announced he has earmarked an initial $25 million USD, through his Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
Decisive Farming My Farm Manager mobile app
Ag Tech GlobalLeading Canadian Farming Co-op Brings In New Tech To Bo…
January 17, 2017
Co-op, one of the largest agricultural retailers in Western Canada, is partnering with farm management company Decisive Farming to provide Read More
Business ManagementCNH Names Danford Industry Relations Manager
January 17, 2017
Dan Danford has been named Industry Relations Manager, Precision Solutions and Telematics (PS&T), for CNH Industrial, parent company of agricultural Read More
Australian Harvest
Ag Tech GlobalAustralian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast To 20…
January 13, 2017
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Australian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast to 2020” report to their offering. Read More
Norris planter
Innovation SeriesCompelling Consultant Panel Kicks Off Next Month’s Prec…
January 12, 2017
Jeremy Wilson, Technology Specialist at CropIMS and renowned precision expert, leads a panel of top precision consultants to kick off Read More
Data ManagementProspera Selected for Top 100 Artificial Intelligence R…
January 11, 2017
CB Insights today selected Prospera to the prestigious Artificial Intelligence 100 list (“AI 100”), a select group of emerging private Read More
Business ManagementBREAKING: FAA Considering Less Restrictive Commercial D…
January 11, 2017
FAA is working toward allowing more freedom for drone operators, and at the same time is working with NASA on Read More
DronessenseFly, Agribotix Combine eBee SQ and FarmLens Offeri…
January 11, 2017
Agribotix has partnered with senseFly to offer a new combined solution for professional users. This technology solution combines the top Read More
Sentera software
DronesSentera Announces NDVI Livestream Capabilities for Doub…
January 10, 2017
Sentera today announced the upcoming release of LiveNDVI Video: livestreamed NDVI video via Sentera’s Double 4K sensor. This breakthrough technology Read More
Young Corn Field
Ag Tech GlobalEurocontrol To Commercialize Precision Agricultural Ini…
January 9, 2017
Eurocontrol Technics Group Inc., a Canadian public company specializing in the acquisition, development and commercialization of innovative test and measurement Read More
Corn Field
Data ManagementWaypoint Analytical, Highland Precision Ag Announce Str…
January 9, 2017
Waypoint Analytical (WP), based in Memphis, TN, and Highland Precision Ag (HPA), based in Mulberry, FL, are pleased to announce Read More
Western Canada Wheat field
EventsSixth Annual Precision Ag Summit Set for January 16-17 …
January 4, 2017
The 6th annual Precision Ag Summit will be held Jan. 16-17, at the North Dakota Farmers Union Conference Center in Read More
University of California Merced Professor Stefano Carpin
Hort TechRobots, People Working Together To Save Water, Enhance …
January 3, 2017
A nearly $1 million grant from the USDA is helping University of California researchers refine collaborative robotic technology that could Read More