Designed to test innovative small UAS operations safely, in partnership with state, local and tribal jurisdictions, the program will generate data for future UAS policy and rulemaking. The program’s timeline is aggressive and applicants must submit their interest in participating by Nov. 28, 2017.
The FAA will award a minimum of five pilot program designations, although several senior DOT and FAA officials have expressed that it is their desire to award more than five designations. FAA's ability to do so is limited only by feasibility of the proposals submitted and available resources. The program allows FAA to approve applications on a rolling basis, which means that even if only five awards are initially made, FAA could approve a timely submitted application at any time within the three years.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao touted the program as a step towards addressing the biggest technological challenge in aviation since the dawn of the jet age. Speakers during the Nov. 2 announcement event discussed existing local UAS operations, including the pivotal role played by drones in disaster relief following the recent devastating hurricanes, where FAA granted more than 300 authorizations for UAS operations on an expedited basis. They also focused on the need for a framework that allows governmental jurisdictions to participate in the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace.
- Details about the U.S. Drone Integration Pilot Program are available on the DOT website.
- Application process information is also available on the FAA website.