The FAA is setting up a standing committee to advise it on how to integrate drones in civil airspace and is tapping a top Silicon Valley executive to lead it.
The drone advisory committee will gather about 30 leaders from throughout the aviation and unmanned systems industries to work with FAA officials in prioritizing policy and research integration issues that must be tackled and in building broad industry support for the agency's efforts, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in New Orleans today at the annual Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference.
The administrator said the CEO of the Santa Clara, California-based technology company Intel Corp., Brian Krzanich, has agreed to lead the new advisory committee. "Brian has a deep personal interest in unmanned flight and a passion for it," Huerta said. "He also is a pilot and understands the breadth and variety of users in the airspace."
The agency has tasked RTCA with recommending how many representatives should serve on the new committee and what procedures should be used in conducting its work.
Two drone advisory groups set up in the last year addressed specific issues: registration of such aircraft and the operation of "micro" unmanned aircraft systems. They also worked for set time periods.
Huerta added that the new drone panel would play a role similar to the Next Gen Advisory Committee that for five years has guided the agency's work in implementing the new U.S. air traffic control system.
“The broad-based drone advisory committee is intended to be a long-lasting group that will serve as a regular forum to work collaboratively,” Huerta told the gathering, now branded as Xponential. It will help identify and prioritize integration challenges and improvements and create broad support for an overall integration strategy.
“Industry has been clear that it wants more engagement, not less, and this advisory committee will help institutionalize that,” the FAA chief said. “Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety.”
Huerta said the group should hold its inaugural meeting before September’s end, at which point it should have a formal name. He joked that FAA officials had debated whether to call the new panel the Advisory Committee for Drone Coordination, but that the Australian hard rock band AC/DC might object.