In a July 31 letter, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and Helicopter Association International joined the Small UAV Coalition, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and others in unified opposition to an amendment drafted by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would allow state and local governments to regulate deliveries by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
“If adopted, the amendment would … [create] inefficiencies that will stifle innovation and discourage investment and competition,” the groups wrote in the letter to all U.S. senators. “This will inhibit the United States from embracing the economic potential and consumer benefits of drone delivery, which other countries—including China, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland—have already embraced and continue to compete for investment in this technology.”
The groups noted that unmanned aircraft are capable of both commercial and humanitarian delivery missions, including disaster relief, and “a patchwork of regulations would impede efforts to meet these unexpected and time-sensitive needs.”
The groups noted that Lee’s amendment would also set back the U.S. Department of Transportation Drone Integration Pilot Program, which is now testing various unmanned technologies with an eye on expanding approved uses of drones for applications including cardiac defibrillator delivery and mosquito control.
“The amendment would not only impede operations under IPP, but also undermine one of its core missions and discourage others from seeking to participate in this exciting and important initiative,” the July 31 letter states.
The House approved a five-year FAA reauthorization bill in April with a 393-13 vote. The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote, with a number of issues still to be resolved.