No clear consensus on technology standards, a lack of a regulatory framework and unsure analysis of safety data mean commercial acceptance of drones is still far off in the future, according to a recent report by the Department of Transportation
Congress has called for the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace system (NAS) by September 2015; the DOT found that at the current level of progression, the FAA will not hit that goal.
“Significant technological, regulatory, and management barriers exist to safely integrate UAS into the NAS,” the agency found. Until FAA addresses these barriers, UAS integration will continue to move at a slow pace, and safety risks will remain.”
To address these challenges, DOT has recommended the Federal Aviation Administration take 11 actions to ensure the most expedient integration of drones. These recommendations include publishing an annual progress report regarding technological UAS challenges; laying out progress milestones for proper UAS classification; and creating a framework for UAS data sharing.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 outlined 17 goals for UAS integration. The FAA has so far completed nine of those tasks, which include publishing a roadmap for UAS integration and selecting drone test sites.
"However, the agency missed the statutory milestones for most of these provisions, and much work remains to fully implement them,” DOT wrote. “FAA is also behind schedule in implementing the remaining eight UAS provisions.”
The report mentioned that commercial drone use will likely be approved in limited locations by the deadline, but that system-wide integration is still far off.