Department of Transportation Releases Details for Drone Pilot Program Implementation

November 8, 2017

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On Oct. 25, President Trumpannounced that he is directing the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish anUnmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Programby which state, local and tribal government entities, in partnership withthe private sector, will test advanced drone operations and inform futurerulemakings to support UAS integration.

Today, DOT published a Federal Register notice outlining implementationdetails that officially kicks off the application process for LeadApplicants (state, local and tribal entities) and Interested Parties(private sector entities).

  • Within 20 calendar days: Lead Applicants must submit a Notice of Intent with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Within 35 calendar days: Lead Applicants must complete Volumes I and II in the FAA application portal.
  • Within 35 calendar days: Private entities can request inclusion on a public Interested Parties List that Lead Applicants can source for potential partners.
  • Within 57 calendar days: Lead Applicants complete Volumes III, IV, V and VI in the FAA application portal.
  • Within 180 calendar days: Lead Applicants are selected by FAA and enter into agreements with the FAA.

Private sector entities are not required to register interest with the FAAand may work directly with one or more Lead Applicants. DOT will select aminimum of five jurisdictions to participate in the pilot program. Onceselected, applicants will be required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement(MOA) with the FAA within five days.

The program represents a welcome step toward accelerated authorization ofexpanded drone operations beyond the current scope of FAA regulations.Selected participants will have the opportunity to test operations beyondthe visual line of sight, over people and carrying property, enabling droneoperations that will save time, money and lives.

State, local and tribal entities selected to move forward with theirproposals will attract investment and a reputation as a proving ground forUAS research and development efforts. McGuireWoods stands ready to leverageour deep bench of state and local government affairs professionals —including McGuireWoods Consulting’s industry-leading emerging technologiespractice — and extensive experience navigating successful public-privatepartnerships to assist government and nongovernment entities interested inthis highly selective program.