Reps. Titus, Brownley, Rouzer Encourage FAA Guidance to Improve Drone Infrastructure Inspection Operations
Washington, DC, September 9, 2022 | Sara Severens (202-924-1719)
Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), and Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC) led 10 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Acting Administrator Nolen encouraging the Federal Aviation Administration to issue guidance that would enable low-risk shielded operations in a safe and efficient manner for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), Co-Chair of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus and a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), and Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC) led 10 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Acting Administrator Nolen encouraging the Federal Aviation Administration to issue guidance that would enable low-risk shielded operations in a safe and efficient manner for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Doing so will provide certainty, efficiency, and cost savings to state departments of transportation and many small-to-medium-sized businesses that utilize drones to inspect critical infrastructure.
“Shielded operations offer high levels of value with lower levels of risk. Consider infrastructure inspection—forty-nine of fifty states have begun to use drones to inspect expensive, complex, aging infrastructure,” the Members wrote. “Drone inspections can be safer than manual methods, enabling human inspectors to see confined or difficult spaces—like bridge trusses to power plant smokestacks—without placing themselves in danger. And drone inspections can be more efficient and cost-effective.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2020.1 Of those fatal work injuries, "workers in transportation and material moving occupations and construction and extraction occupations accounted for nearly half of all fatal occupational injuries (47.4 percent), representing 1,282 and 976 workplace deaths, respectively.” Increased usage of small UAS for these types of operations stands to significantly reduce this fatality rate. With the advent of advanced cameras and obstacle avoidance technology, those shielded operations can be conducted in very close proximity to structures, significantly reducing the risk of encountering crewed aircraft. Under the current rules, flying drones BVLOS requires a waiver—even in these low-risk, high-value scenarios.
In addition to Reps. Titus, Brownley, and Rouzer, this letter was signed by 10 other Members of Congress, including Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC), André Carson (D-IN), Shelia Jackson Lee (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), John B. Larson (D-CT), Brian J. Mast (R-FL), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
Read today’s full letter here.