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Marking Milestones on the Path to UAS Integration


Back in 2012 when Congress ordered the FAA to integrate Unmanned Aerial Systems into U.S. airspace, it happened to be the 50th anniversary year of another ambitious directive: President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 moonshot declaration. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy,” Kennedy had famously said, “but because they are hard.”

Integrating UAS into our national airspace may not rank next to the moonshot in the annals of human achievement. However, it is similar in at least one respect: It will most certainly be hard.

The extent of the challenge comes into sharp focus in a new report by Altiscope, the unmanned traffic management group of Airbus’ Silicon Valley innovation outpost A³ by Airbus. Titled Blueprint for the Sky: The Roadmap for the Safe Integration of Autonomous Aircraft, the 26-page analysis includes detailed explorations of a raft of challenges and opportunities. (In my capacity as an aviation attorney, I was among the report’s reviewers, particularly in the area of risk-management.)

As the report notes, our skies are about to get much busier. By some estimates, commercial air traffic will double within 15 years even as the UAS world continues to grow. The FAA has already registered at least a million drones, note the report’s authors, and last year alone about three million UAS were shipped worldwide. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs based everywhere from Silicon Valley to the United Arab Emirates are hard at work on larger-scale UAS that could one day be used as fully autonomous sky taxis, cargo delivery vehicles or airborne ambulances.

Read the full article at AviationPros here.

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