FAA Talks Drones at SXSW

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FAA Administrator Michael Huerta led a lively panel discussion about the future of small unmanned aircraft at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin on Monday. The panel included a diverse group of  industry and government.

In his opening remarks, Administrator Huerta outlined recent progress on several important initiatives, including a robust unmanned aircraft system (UAS) registration system that is expected to pass 400,000 registrants this week, the MicroUAS aviation rulemaking committee that will deliver recommendations to the FAA by April 1, and the FAA’s B4UFLY app for iOS and Android devices. He noted partnerships among the FAA, industry and other government agencies are key to safely and expeditiously integrating unmanned aircraft into our skies.

“The wide array of industry representatives here today underscores that while we may sometimes have different opinions and ideas, we’re all coming from essentially the same place: We all view safety as our top priority, and the safe integration of unmanned aircraft is a goal that we’re committed to pursuing together,” Huerta said.

The panel discussion included representatives from NASA, Amazon Prime Air, Intel, PrecisionHawk, Aerobo and Fresh Air Educators. Topics included steps to speed integration while maintaining today’s high levels of safety, future uses for UAS, research on how to safely expand UAS operations, and ways to spread the FAA’s safety message to even more UAS pilots.

Helping people understand where they can and can’t fly their unmanned aircraft is critical and the FAA is counting on industry’s support. Many UAS users have no experience with the U.S. aviation system, so they may not be aware they’re operating in shared, and potentially busy airspace.

Huerta announced the Android version of the FAA’s B4UFLY app is now publicly available. The app tells pilots whether it’s safe to fly in their current or planned locations.

One Comment on “FAA Talks Drones at SXSW”


  1. As a quadriplegic with full use of arms and hands, paralyzed from chest down and hoping I would have been able to get back off Social Security in starting my own Aerial Imagery business in the construction (as a past engineer who designed landfill to energy plants) industry, having over 15 years as a project manager, project analyst, engineering manager along with a recent degree in education graduating valedictorian of my class and urged to bypass the masters program and apply for the Ph.D program in Instructional Technology with a concentration in mathematics, I believe our government, the FAA and other lobbyists have again killed any hopes for me to have my own job- to fly a small, remote controlled quadcopter aircraft to take pictures for numerous industries.

    I spent most of my money on a upscale unmanned aircraft system (UAS), and began to practice flying in my yard and then in farm fields of relatives. I was excited about the prospects and registered domain names to build a company web site, started performing unmanned flight with the newest software allowing me to create 3D models of homes for high end realtors, construction sites for improved project management, and landscape photos for publications.

    Having to attempt to find a local disabled pilot testing facility with a plane that would be outfitted for the disabled is not only ridiculous in premise, a law for me having to do so in order to sell pictures I have already proven capable of doing in a very safe manner makes it absurd. Again, the rich take care of the rich since only those who can afford an attorney, pay for FAA pilot training to obtain a FAA PILOTS LICENSES, and then and only then be allowed to sell my photographs to realtors whose clients property I am flying on has me at the end of my rope and looking for attorneys who would help me take on any legal battles to get me flying and freeing me from being held down by the government.

    Once again the government fails to see the benefit of creating jobs. Moreover, creating jobs that many disabled people could perform since it gives us the freedom to get to areas to photograph we could only dream of from our wheelchairs.

    Thank you very much as I attempt to live on the $24,000 annual payments from Social Security in lieu of draining the system and perhaps starting a business to create jobs for others who are disabled.

    I realize this sounds like a diatribe from an uneducated person, however, if one had to live in my shoes and be shut down by the government in every business venture I have tried since I had to stop my ehat could be father from the truth

    Lastly, when will the lobbyists be put in check? 3:1 lobbyists to every lawmaker in the pharmaceutical industry, we know how that has benefitted the country, worst drug epidemic EVER in the history of the United States of America. The most addiction, overdoses, and deaths. Now they are killing others who are trying to create jobs and better themselves. The money paid to the FAA and law firms to help push the 333 exemptions through, the rich getting richer from the already wealthy.

    Think and STOP killing our country!

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