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Widespread use of commercial drones is likely to take significantly longer than many proponents of the budding industry anticipate, according to U.S. and Canadian aviation regulators.
According to sUAS that blunt message was delivered by high-ranking aviation safety officials from the U.S., Canada and the United Nations recently to an industry conference.
At a time when champions of unmanned aircraft are escalating efforts to obtain federal approvals—with some U.S. lawmakers also demanding swift regulatory action—the latest comments highlight the extent of the hurdles that remain.
The recent session underscored the reluctance of regulators across North America and other regions to quickly give the green light to extensive drone flights, based on safety concerns. A representative of the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the U.N., expressed similar sentiments during the panel sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association, a major union.
Unmanned systems conference 2014 – Israel
Granting regulatory approval to operate remotely piloted vehicles among manned aircraft is “not going to be as soon as some people tend to think,” John Hickey, the No. 2 safety official at the Federal Aviation Administration, told the gathering.
Congress has mandated that by the fall of 2015, the FAA institute a comprehensive plan to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft in U.S. skies.
Mr. Hickey’s comments reiterated that the FAA considers itself obligated to formulate a plan by that deadline, rather than start allowing widespread drone operations by then. Initial U.S. rules covering the smallest unmanned aircraft aren’t likely to become final until late next year. Rules for larger, more-capable models are likely to come years later.