The FAA announced the formation of an advisory committee to guide it on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace, a group that will be led by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.
The committee will help the FAA finalize hotly anticipated regulations for the commercial operation of drones in civil airspace, which will likely pave the way for their widespread use for deliveries and other applications by companies like Amazon and Google.
“By late spring, we plan to finalize Part 107, our small UAS rule, which will allow for routine commercial drone operations," FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in a speech at a UAS industry event in New Orleans on Wednesday.
Members of the new drone advisory committee, set for selection by the end of this month, will include representatives from drone manufacturers and operators, application service providers, pilots, the FAA, NASA, representatives of manned aviation and the Department of Defense.
The FAA said earlier this year that it expects more than 7 million drones to be sold in the United States by 2020, underscoring the need for regulation.
Huerta also announced the FAA in the very near future will start allowing students to operate UAS for educational and research purposes. As a result, schools and students will no longer need a Section 333 exemption or any other authorization to fly provided they follow the rules for model aircraft. Faculty will be able to use drones in connection with helping their students with their courses.
“Schools and universities are incubators for tomorrow’s great ideas, and we think this is going to be a significant shot in the arm for innovation,” Huerta said.