FAA 2014: From UAS integration to NextGen

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It was a relatively tumultuous year for the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition to facing difficulties in the continued rollout of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, called NextGen, the agency’s inspector general also reported the agency would miss its 2015 small unmanned aircraft system integration deadline.

The deadline would require that the agency have rules in place for small (weighing in at less than 55 pounds) drones to be able to be integrated into the airspace. Not only is the agency behind in this process, but the agency will also need to figure out how drones fit into the NextGen plan. According to the agency’s inspector general, the current plan for NextGen does not include any provisions for drone integration.

However, one solution could be equipping drones with Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast sensing equipment, which would rely on global positioning system information to allow manned aircraft, drone operators and air traffic control operators to receive information about the location of drones in the air. However, even if they were equipped with ADS-B Out, which would ping their location, the rest of the air traffic control system would need to be equipped with ADS-B In, which allows other craft and air traffic control devices to read the ADS-B Out data.

With acknowledgement that the agency will miss the 2015 integration deadline, drone enthusiasts will be able to weigh in on the yet-to-be-posted but soon expected notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the integration. In addition, the agency will likely continue to release commercial exemptions for certain companies under strict criteria, according to testimony from the agency’s assistant administrator at a Dec. 10 hearing.

Top Story of 2014

Preparing for America’s ‘next great industry’: Drones

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Read more of our 2014 wrap-up coverage:

2014 Year-in-Review: Big names and big stories

Federal IT acquisition 2014: A year of reform

2014 forges a new, more comfortable relationship with cloud for government

Congress 2014: The year of unfinished business

Cybersecurity 2014: The battle for mindshare

Defense 2014: The year of strategies and women

The FCC’s 2014 in the spotlight may be just the beginning

Health IT 2014: The push toward interoperable data

Patent and Trademark 2014: The downfall of a teleworking leader

Veterans Affairs 2014: The Year of Being Held Accountable

Federal workforce 2014: Hiring millennials and closing the STEM skills gap

White House 2014: Departures, digital service and Google

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Archives, Departments, drones, Federal Aviation Administration, Justice Department, Transportation Department
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