US-Senate-GreatSeal.svgThe Senate voted unanimously to adopt four drone-related amendments to S. 2658, which would re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration through fiscal year 2017.

One of the amendments offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would penalize drone operators who fly near airports without prior approval.

Another amendment, offered by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would extend until 2022 a drone testing program set to expire in 2017, while an amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would specify the FAA’s responsibilities to establish and report on a new approval procedure for drone operators.

Senators also adopted an amendment requiring the FAA to coordinate with a Mississippi-based drone research group as the agency develops new safety rules. That amendment was offered by Sen.Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

The FAA legislation, approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last month, already includes several drone provisions of its own. For example, the measure would require the government to craft risk-based safety standards for the aircraft and establish a process for the approval of small drones.

Not sure if pigs can fly but pork obviously can. OK, cheap shot. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bill is actually intended to strengthen the current Center of Excellence (COE) partnership which is led by Mississippi State. According to his website:
“The nation most needs a strategic, coordinated research effort to explore important questions safely integrating about unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace and economy. My amendment would allow that to occur by keeping the focus on the FAA Center of Excellence instead of establishing duplicative programs.”
Similarly, Sen. John Hoeven’s bill extends the six test sites to 2022, helping to ensure continued private support. All in all a good days work.



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