In the News

Aerospace Industries Association
By Kathryn Verona

As part of our ongoing effort to promote the innovative opportunities resident in America’s aerospace and defense industry, this week, the Aerospace Industries Association partnered with the Senate Aerospace Caucus in hosting an event highlighting the emerging issue of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in commercial markets and the challenges inherent in securing successful transitions.  Along with Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and representatives from General Atomics, Google X, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Kansas State University, AIA hosted a discussion on embracing the emerging opportunities UAS present as part of maintaining American aerospace and as the most innovative and advanced in the world.  The event also included a presentation on the security applications of continued technology development by the Department of Defense.

“Aerospace advancement aids in the important partnership between the private industry and our armed forces while also serving to advance the way we educate our workforce. Thanks to the Aerospace Industries Association for their work and leadership in this field and to all who participated in our caucus’ first event of the year, including General Atomics, Google X, the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Office, the Department of Defense’s Special Capabilities Office and Kansas State Polytechnic,”? said Senate Aerospace Caucus Co-Chair, Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Since the early 1900’s simple unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have been conducting very basic missions. Commonly referred to as drones – though not technically accurate – they’ve become a staple of U.S. military operations.  Yet while they have been useful and important tools in the military market, these systems are evolving into extremely sophisticated tools and include more than just military applications.

Today, the systems enable truly amazing innovations, with the opportunity to harness the technology for unique applications, including search and rescue, weather forecasting, law enforcement, firefighting, disaster response, precision farming, commercial fisheries, scientific research, infrastructure monitoring and emergency management.

With these new applications, it’s easy to understand how new industries and domestic markets are emerging in parallel with these new applications.  This week’s event focused on the need for seamless coordination of UAS in U.S. commercial airspace and bridging the technology bridge from military applications to civil.  As airspace users, both civil and military, we must collaborate on developing regulations, policies, and procedures for integrating unmanned systems into our skies, causes AIA has continued to advocate for.  We must also embrace emerging technologies while maintaining aviation safety; achieve routine access for unmanned aircraft systems to all classes of airspace; harmonize with international regulations; and reform U.S. export policies.

These systems already are required to abide by airspace restrictions, operator licensing rules and regulations and similar safety and privacy standards, but further opportunities exist.  Fortunately, constructive frameworks have emerged in the past several years that will help achieve critical regulatory goals, clarify gray areas and resolve industry concerns such as those related to UAS national airspace integration, segregation of large and small unmanned vehicles in flight, determination of appropriate operator certifications, and many related security and safety issues.  Still, to harness the potential growth and applications that UAS truly present, we must continue to reduce constraints on all emerging technologies as part of a larger effort on regulatory reform.

“The aerospace and defense sector represents an enormously important part of our overall economy, and I am proud that so many aerospace companies call Virginia home. As this week’s event showed, our caucus will be at the forefront of exploring the potential of new technologies in unmanned systems, which I believe will fundamentally change how we go about our everyday lives. I look forward to continue working with my co-chair Sen. Jerry Moran on issues that are vital to the aerospace industry, including the growing fields of satellites and cybersecurity,”? said Senate Aerospace Caucus Co-Chair, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

AIA continues to partner with organizations from across government and industry to push for policies and funding that enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System and advance UAS export policies and processes that continue to renew America’s leadership in global trade.  Thanks to the leadership of elected officials on the Senate Aerospace Caucus and the continued work of companies and academic organizations like those represented on Tuesday, the future of UAS in America is bright and filled with opportunity.

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