> our title:

Standards Needed to Guide UAV R&D

> original title:

Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Continued Coordination, Operational Data, and Performance Standards Needed to Guide Research and Development

Source: US Government Accountability Office

US Government Accountability Office

Ref: GAO-13-346T

Issued Feb. 18, 2013

23 pages in PDF format

While Congress has tasked FAA to lead the effort of safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace, several federal and other entities also have a role.

FAA has established various mechanisms to facilitate collaboration with these entities. For example, FAA has entered into formal agreements with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on obtaining appropriate safety data and coordinating research and development, respectively.

FAA has also involved industry stakeholders and academia in the development of standards and research for UAS operations. FAA recently created the UAS Integration Office, within FAA, to coordinate all intra-agency UAS efforts and provide organizational leadership. Continued collaboration among UAS stakeholders will be critical to minimizing duplication of research and addressing implementation obstacles.

While FAA has made progress toward meeting the 2012 Act’s requirements, as of January 2013, it has missed several of its deadlines. FAA continues to face challenges, with many of its efforts still in process. For example, the establishment of six test ranges for UAS operations, as required by the 2012 Act, is being delayed due to privacy concerns. Meeting the 2012 Act’s requirements moving forward will require continued collaboration and significant work for FAA.

In September 2012, GAO recommended that FAA incorporate mechanisms in its planning that allow for regular monitoring to assess its progress. Such mechanisms can help FAA identify what has been achieved and what remains to be done.

Research and development efforts are under way to mitigate obstacles to safe and routine integration of UAS into the national airspace. However, these research and development efforts cannot be completed and validated without safety, reliability, and performance standards, which have not yet been developed because of data limitations.

GAO previously reported that FAA has not utilized the operational data it already possesses, such as data provided by the DOD.

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