A new federal audit from the Office of the Inspector General suggests that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is likely to miss its own deadline for domestic drone rules. The deadline – September 30, 2015 is still over a year away but that may not be enough time.
As CivSource first reported, the FAA mandated six domestic test sites, mostly at universities to study how best to integrate drones into domestic airspace. Currently, drones are already in widespread use by law enforcement, but proponents of drones want them available for surveillance, commercial activity and scientific experiments among other uses.
More recently, the FAA has cracked down on the use of domestic drones outside of law enforcement until these rules are in place. US airspace is already crowded and states have gone ahead with a patchwork of laws and exceptions which will make things more difficult for regulators and operators of drones.
The report says “it is uncertain when and if full integration of UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) into the NAS (National Airspace System) will occur.” Not only is the FAA “significantly behind schedule” the report suggests that even the most basic study of how these rules would work in practice, isn’t moving forward in any real way. “Significant technological, regulatory, and management barriers exist,” when it comes to integrating drones in to the US airspace, the Inspector General says – and so far the test sites haven’t moved the needle.
In the meantime, drone supporters hoping for Amazon Air or a drone assisted selfie, are unlikely to have that before 2016.