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Government Accountability Office, Unmanned Aerial Systems: Efforts Made toward Integration into the National Airspace Continue, but Many Actions Still Required (GAO-15-254T) (Dec. 10, 2014) (full-text).


UASs are aircraft that do not carry a pilot aboard, but instead operate on pre-programmed routes or are manually controlled by following commands from pilot-operated ground control stations. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 put greater emphasis on the need to integrate UASs into the national airspace by requiring that the FAA establish requirements governing them. The FAA has developed a three-phased approach in its 5-year Roadmap to facilitate incremental steps toward seamless integration. However, in the absence of regulations, unauthorized UAS operations have, in some instances, compromised safety.

This testimony discusses 1) progress toward meeting UAS requirements from the 2012 Act, 2) key efforts underway on research and development, and 3) how other countries have progressed in developing UAS use for commercial purposes.

This testimony is based on GAO's prior work and an ongoing study examining issues related to UAS integration into the national airspace system for civil and public UAS operations.