DOT releases first details on Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program

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On November 2, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled details for the newly announced Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program. The program, designed to partner state and local governments with industry stakeholders, will allow county governments to determine what local rules and regulations will best cater to their communities while bringing innovative technology within their county lines. The rollout event, held at DOT headquarters, provided the first details for the program, indicated key deadlines, and showcased a website for guidance in the application process.

A priority for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the program is to gather data that can assist in future federal rulemaking to ensure safe integration of drones into the national airspace. The FAA expressed interest in gathering data pertaining to:

  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Emergency Response
  • Disaster Relief/News Reporting
  • Transportation/Hazardous Materials Safety

Beginning on November 8, when the official federal register notice is published, counties will have 20 days to email their notice of intent to the FAA indicating their interest and intent to submit an application. Counties may also collaborate with their state and municipal partners and jointly email their notice of intent. The deadline for submitting this notice of intent is November 28. You can find specific information as to how that e-mail should look here. On Wednesday, November 8 at 3:00pm EST, the FAA will host a webinar that will provide an overview of the UAS Integration Pilot Program, the application process, and specific criteria and deadlines that are required in order to be accepted into the program. To register for this webinar, click here.

NACo will also collaborate with industry stakeholders to bring industries and counties together for possible partnerships. NACo members continue to be at the forefront of drone technology and integration, from emergency response to infrastructure inspection. Through your advocacy, this pilot program will allow counties to put this into practice.

Additional Resources:

  • Click here for more information on Unmanned Aerial System Pilot Program
  • Click here to see the Federal Register’s draft announcement on the pilot program
  • Click here to see an Unmanned Aerial System sample memorandum of understanding
  • Click here for more information on participant selection in the pilot program
  • Click here to read the NACo annoucement introducing the Unmanned Aerial System Integration Pilot Program
  • Click here to read the joint statement by the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors on President Trump’s directive establishing an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program


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