Getting UAVs in the National Airspace

According to a new National Aeronautics Research and Development Plan released with little fanfare March 4 by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, “an important new goal” for the nation is integration of unmanned air vehicles into the national airspace system. The new plan, which builds upon one produced in 2007, includes input from the National Science and Technology Council, the “broader community and non-Federal stakeholders” and describes “the high-level expectations and R&D necessary to eventually achieve [unmanned aerial system] integration into the National Airspace System (NAS),” according to the document’s overview. The plan notes that addressing the “growing demand” for UAV use within the NAS “depends on a complex set of regulatory, technical, economic, and political factors,” but, it continues, “it is becoming increasingly clear” that the demand requires “full integration of manned and unmanned systems throughout the NAS.”