FAA Releases Drone Integration Roadmap

Certification standards due for release next year.

Drone Roadmap

Drone Roadmap

The FAA today issued its first ever "roadmap" outlining the steps it says will be necessary to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation's complex airspace.

The 72-page document outlines the FAA's approach to mixing drones into civilian airspace safely and securely while addressing privacy concerns. This will involve establishing specific certification requirements for UAS operators over the next five to 10 years. Initial certification standards for unmanned aircraft are planned for release starting next year, with incremental changes and improvements planned over the next 15 years, the agency said.

"The FAA is committed to safe, efficient and timely integration of UAS into our airspace," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We are dedicated to moving this exciting new technology along as quickly and safely as possible."

Huerta noted that the FAA plans to select six UAS test sites to begin detailed research on integrating drones into U.S. airspace. These Congressionally mandated test sites will conduct studies into what certification and navigation requirements will need to be established, including a close look at NextGen sense-and-avoid technologies.

The FAA envisions drones eventually being used for everything from law enforcement functions, to cargo operations, aerial photography, pipeline patrol, outdoor advertising and other roles.

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