US President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing state and local governments to significantly expand their drone operations, the media reported. Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create a pilot program allowing localities to propose expanded drone operations that include flights over people, night-time operations and flying beyond the visual line of sight, all of which are currently prohibited, reports The Hill magazine.
If approved, the FAA will grant the localities a waiver and use testing data from those operations to inform federal policymaking. The push to delegate some federal authority over the US airspace to state and local governments comes as drone use has exploded, with more than 1 million users registered with the FAA and the number of commercial drones expected to increase five-fold by 2021.
But the industry, which has the potential to create tens of thousands of US jobs, has said that regulatory control over the national airspace has stifled innovation. The FAA will have one year to establish the pilot programme, which will allow the agency to enter into agreements with state, local and tribal governments to transform their jurisdictions into “(unmanned aircraft systems) innovation zones” for testing novel drone operations, The Hill reported. Companies like Amazon and Google have been vying to use drones for commercial deliveries.