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Keeping an Eye on Counter-Drone Plans

April 12, 2018 - EAA’s government team continues to monitor the latest proposals forwarded by federal agencies and the White House to counter potential threats from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) near aircraft, especially those that would allow law enforcement agencies the authority to disable or destroy drones deemed as a threat.

The proposal has received some pushback from Congress, which questioned overriding the FAA’s authority over the nation’s airspace, and airports, whose leaders are wondering how to deal with drone incursions that could threaten manned flights. At the center of discussions is a provision named Title 18, which forbids the destruction of an aircraft flying in the national airspace system.

According to media reports, law enforcement concerns have delayed the FAA’s release of new rules allowing expanded drone operations.

“We’re watching this closely for two main reasons: to ensure that safety and security for manned operations at and around airports is maintained, and to be vigilant against any ‘mission creep’ that could suddenly affect recreational aviation,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “EAA has long stated that integrating UAS operations into the national airspace must ensure unchanged access for manned operations, along with no new regulations on manned flights and no mandates for aircraft owners requiring equipment to track UAS operations.”

Preventing a possible drone-aircraft collision and any security threat by UAS operations has become a hot topic with the increasing number of drones in use, as well as increasing pressure to allow expanded commercial UAS operations.

Politico reports that proposed legislation is being narrowly drafted to ease objections that emerged in 2016 to a plan that would have broadly granted agencies the authority to track and destroy drones. The Senate Aviation Subcommittee plans to hold hearings on the measure when it is officially released.

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