Potential Impacts of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 on the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Industry

As the Unmanned Aircraft Industry evolves, regulatory actions from Congress will significantly shape the ability to expand and integrate into the existing National Airspace System. The recently finalized 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act has the potential to be the most impactful of legislative actions to date.

The commercial unmanned aircraft industry exists in a rapidly evolving and uncertain environment, with a multitude of well-established, well-financed stakeholders in associated industries each vying to influence that environment. Although influence can come in many forms, Congress holds the ultimate power, and gives agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a recurring authorization to regulate air travel and associated research. On October 5, 2018, this authorization was extended until 2023.

In a variety of draft forms since introduced by Senator Schuster in June of 2017, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 grants an additional 5 years to the FAA, and with it a multitude of new directives related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). The House and Senate had versions under review for over a year, each with unique amendments that impact UAS operations and address many of the concerns of stakeholders, but not all of them will assist the industry in its efforts to integrate within the National Airspace System with manned traffic. Some like the Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement agencies, and commercial passenger operators all have differing interests that may slow the growth and integration of UASs. With this final bill, the industry gets the opportunity to operate as it wishes in some areas, but loses some of the freedoms it once had (115th Congress, 2018).

Author: Darren Spencer.

Link: http://pubs.mumabusinessreview.org/2018/MBR-2018-02-09-123-128-Spencer-UAV-Opinion.pdf

Cite as: Spencer, D. (2018). Potential impacts of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 on the commercial unmanned aircraft industry, Muma Business Review 2(9). 123-128. Retrieved from http://pubs.mumabusinessreview.org/2018/MBR-2018-02-09-123-128-Spencer-UAV-Opinion.pdf

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