Bridging the Gap: Sustaining UAS Progress While Pursuing a Permanent Regulatory Framework

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) offer a stunning range of capabilities to connect people with goods and services that may normally be inaccessible to them. They can replace the human element for dangerous inspections, monitor environmental changes in remote locations, and potentially reduce the carbon footprint of portions of the transportation network. The data gathered in writing this report highlight that the rapid development of UAS technologies contrasts with the relatively slow evolution of laws and regulations to ensure their safe use. As a result, oversight currently functions largely on a “by-exception” basis while policymakers and the aviation industry slowly work toward the vision of integrating UAS into a permanent regulatory framework. This report proposes several concrete steps to build that framework, while honing the existing one to save resources, speed development, and ensure safety in the meantime.