Acting US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Michael Huerta says he's "quite optimistic" the agency can meet a 2015 deadline imposed by the US Congress to integrate UAS into civil airspace in the US.
The growing importance of UAS in the FAA's portfolio was evident by Huerta's presence here at AUVSI - he is the first FAA administrator to address the group as a keynote speaker.
FAA accomplishments of late include establishing a "one-stop portal for all matters of civil use of UAS" in the form of a UAS integration office that will establish operational and certification requirements for UAS as well as to oversee and coordinate research and development. The agency also streamlined and quickened the application and renewal process for the certificates of authorisation (COAs) that allow UAS operators to fly with restrictions in civil airspace.
Along with developing rules for small UAS, the agency is also working to set up six UAS test sites in the US where the agency will take data and evaluate aircraft certification, pilot training, sense and avoid and operations in preparation for future rulemakings needed to allow for integrated operations by 2015.