The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the national aviation authority of the United States. It is responsible to regulate civil aviation, commercial space transportation and new aviation technology. The FAA is the only responsible to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System, as its webpage states.
So far, the only way to operate a drone in the U.S. is by an explicit authorization COA, which is a Certificate of Waiver. The process to obtain this permission is not clear yet. Permissions are issued for the Executive Committee formed by the FAA, NASA and the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. It is a long process, which has to increase the transparency on how decisions are taken.
In 2009, the FAA gave 146 COAs, or Certificates of Waiver, by 2013 the number was more than double. In this period the administration has given 1, 387 certificates; by the end of 2013 only 545 were active. In fact, the FAA aims to ease the operation of commercial UAVs without these certifications of authorization. The only impediment beyond technical issues is, as said, to guarantee security and privacy for the inhabitants.
The FAA works on the gradual incorporation of rules and considerations in order to guarantee security and privacy. The U.S. Congress expects that in 2015 commercial drones will be ready to fly under regulated circumstances, but experts said that it would be until 2020 that unmanned aerial system are fully integrated. Nevertheless, laws will be published step by step according to their complexity and grade of autonomy. First small drones will be allowed to fly than larger ones, first drones operated by a ground-based pilot than automate long distance flights, and areas will be defined by aerial traffic and population density.
Beyond the efforts to open up aerial space for commercial UAVs, the vision in the U.S. is restrictive if compared with other regions. The theme around security oppresses the potential these vehicles can provide to lots of businesses and persons, which at the end could be reflected in economic savings.
The competent authorities will study the information obtained in order to develop the legal frame that will rule the operational procedures within the National Aerial System (NAS). According to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Report for Congress dated on April 25, 2003, the discussion about drones’ integration...