SENATE REPORT – TRANSPORTATION, AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2019
JUNE 7, 2018.—Ordered to be printed
NOTE This document was prepared to provide reference to the sections relevant to UAS appropriations. Here is the link to the complete 163 page report.
UAS Test Sites—The Committee believes that the FAA should allow commercial entities seeking to demonstrate or validate technologies that the FAA considers essential to the safe integration of UAS in the National Airspace System [NAS] at FAA designated UAS test sites. The FAA should identify essential integration technologies that could be demonstrated or validated at a test site Within 60 days of enactment of this act and the Committee recommendation includes up to $3,000,000 in matching funds to qualiﬁed commercial entities Where feasible.
UAS Integration Pilot Program.—The Committee believes that the DOT UAS Integration Pilot Program [IPP] could be a helpful step enabling enhanced UAS operations and gathering data to safely integrate those expanded operations into the NAS. However, the Department failed to notify or consult with the Committee prior to
initiating its new pilot program and identifying the necessary resources required to operationalize the pilot program. The Committee directs the Department to submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on expected annual costs of the IPP prior to including any additional rounds of agreements with state, local and tribal governments. In addition, the Department is directed to prioritize all Congressional mandates before diverting resources toward any further expansion of the IPP.
2018-19 Budgets – table (not reproduced here)
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability [LAANC].—The Committee supports the safe integration of UAS into the NAS and recognizes that LAAN C for UAS operations in controlled airspace is a necessary building block of Unmanned Trafﬁc Management [UTM]. LAAN C is an important step forward by replacing a 90-day manual review with a near-real time review for commercial UAS operations in low altitude controlled airspace that has been determined to be safe, and which grows local economies in previously restricted airspace. LAAN C leverages signiﬁcant industry investment by UAS service suppliers and provides the FAA with critical data regarding UAS operations, which is essential for integrating UAS in the NAS. Failure to adequately fund LAAN C and the LAAN C program ofﬁce will stall the development of a nationwide UTM system. Therefore, the Committee recommendation includes $7,300,000 in Activity 1 funds to the LAAN C program ofﬁce.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] Research—Center of Excellence—The Committee recognizes the valuable role of the Center of Excellence in assisting the FAA in a host of research challenges associated With the integration of UAS into the NAS. The Committee recommendation includes $24,035,000 for UAS research, equal to the ﬁscal year 2018 enacted level and $20,717,000 above the budget request. Of the funds provided for UAS research, $12,035,000 is directed to support the expanded role of the UAS Center of Excellence in areas of UAS research, including cybersecurity, agricultural applications, beyond visual line of sight technology, and studies of advanced composites and other non-metallic engineering materials not common to manned aircraft but utilized in UAS. Furthermore, the Center of Excellence shall establish a UAS safety research facility at the Center to study appropriate safety standards for UAS and to develop and validate certification standards for such systems. Of the total funding, $2,000,000 is for the Center’s role in transportation disaster preparedness and response, partnering With institutions that have demonstrated experience in damage assessment, collaboration With State transportation agencies, and applied UAS ﬁeld testing; and $10,000,000 is to support UAS research activities at the FAA technical center and other FAA facilities.
Accelerating UAS Traffic Management.—The Committee believes that creation of an UTM system is critical to the safe integration in the NAS and for innovative uses of beyond visual line of sight drone operations, such as package delivery, infrastructure inspection, and precision agriculture. The Committee is concerned that FAA is not acting with sufficient urgency to meet its statutory obligations under section 2208 of the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016, which required the agency to develop a research plan for UTM development and deployment. In executing section 2208, the Committee encourages the FAA to coordinate the three programs that serve as building blocks for the commercial development of a UTM system: LAAN C program, the UTM Pilot Program and the UAS integration pilot program. The FAA should also coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies to test the prevention of unsafe operations that could impact critical infrastructure or personal safety. The Committee directs FAA to submit the research plan no later than December 31, 2018, including milestones for the deployment of a full-scale UTM network. This work is essential to overall UTM development efforts, which will allow industry and UAS service suppliers to build and deploy a UTM network that advances the safety of our national airspace.