HomeTransportation Secretary Chao Speaking Up for Drones

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After describing many of the benefits of drone technology, Chao went on to emphasize a point made by FAA Administrator Huerta in earlier speeches: that recent natural disasters, and the drone response, were a significant turning point for the use of drones in the U.S.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao took pen in hand today to publish an Op-Ed for The Hill, explaining the benefits of drone technology and touting the administration’s new UAS Integration Pilot Program.

Chao goes on to state that federal regulations need to move faster in order to allow the U.S. to retain a leadership position in the industry, and acknowledged that current regulations were inadequate. While it’s a sentiment that seems obvious to the drone industry – the head of Intel testified over 2 years ago that regulations could force major companies oversees – its not one that has previously been echoed from the top of the administration in such a public way.

Chao writes, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked overtime to process more than 300 authorizations for drone use in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the storms.”

“Unfortunately, because our current regulatory environment is perceived as overly restrictive, much drone innovation is happening overseas — in Japan, Australia, and Great Britain. This could shortchange America’s economy and workers. Utilizing drones in our nation’s airspace could add $80 billion to our economy and create 100,000 jobs in the next decade, according to a recent report by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.”

Drones let them check roofs without climbing ladders, and make surveys faster and less expensive. However, the pilot program is scheduled to last for 3 years and will not result in regulation: the program’s goals are to provide data to regulators.