Senator Schatz Presses FAA on Drone Safety

Schatz Reiterates Call for Emergency Rulemaking


Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta calling for immediate action to address the safety concerns and potential security risks of small unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.  Today’s letter follows a recent report of a drone landing on the White House grounds and reiterates a call for action. 

“Yesterday’s report of an unmanned aircraft that landed on White House grounds is alarming and underscores the need to immediately address the safety issues surrounding operating small unmanned aircraft,” Senator Schatz wrote. “According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency’s goal is to issue a final rule 16 months following the NPRM, which would mean a final rule would be issued in 2016 or 2017.  That is too late to ensure public safety.”

Last November, Schatz sent a letter to the FAA urging Administrator Huerta to issue an emergency rulemaking that addresses the risks of drones, citing recent incidents near commercial airports in New York and Florida.


The full text of the letter to Administrator Huerta follows:


The Honorable Michael P. Huerta
Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Huerta:

In November 2014, I wrote to express my concerns regarding small unmanned aircraft operating in the national airspace system, and urged you to take immediate action by issuing an emergency rulemaking.  Yesterday’s report of an unmanned aircraft that landed on White House grounds is alarming and underscores the need to immediately address the safety issues surrounding operating small unmanned aircraft.  I again urge you to issue an emergency rulemaking, such as an interim final rule, that would address safety concerns and potential security risks. 

I understand that the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to allow operation of small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace is under review and is expected to be issued early this year.  According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency’s goal is to issue a final rule 16 months following the NPRM, which would mean a final rule would be issued in 2016 or 2017.  That is too late to ensure public safety.  With the numerous reports that the FAA has received of unmanned aircraft near other aircraft and in near-collisions with other aircraft, we must address these safety concerns without further delay. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  Please respond to this letter by February 10, 2015.


Regards,

BRIAN SCHATZ
United States Senator

###