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New drone program BEYOND announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary after previous UAS one ends 

By Chris Stonor

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, announced that the three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) successfully ended on October 25th, reports a press release. Eight of the nine state, local and tribal governments that participated in the program have signed new agreements with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue working on remaining UAS integration challenges.

Elaine L. Chao, commented, “The three years of information gathered under the drone Integration Pilot Program will be applied to a new initiative called BEYOND which will further advance the safe integration of drones into our national air space.”

She continued, “The IPP propelled the American drone industry forward, allowing for unprecedented expansions in testing and operations through innovative private-public partnerships across the country. Now, the BEYOND program will build upon this success, tackling the next big challenges facing drone integration.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao

A Presidential Memorandum launched the IPP in October 2017, setting off a competitive selection process from 149 applicants. Using innovative strategies, the IPP participants and their industry partners crafted successful safety cases to operate under the FAA’s existing regulations.

The release says, “Participants used the regulations to conduct package delivery, inspect pipelines and power lines, assess flood damage, count cattle, respond to 911 calls, inspect aircraft and many other missions. The data from these flights has informed ongoing rule-making, policy and guidance, and will continue to support future efforts.”

Eight of the nine participants selected for IPP will participate in BEYOND, including, City of Reno, Nevada Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Kansas Department of Transportation and University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, commented, “At the onset of the public health emergency, many of the IPP participants were able to pivot from their original missions to support the COVID-19 response and recovery, demonstrating the increasing value of drone operations in this new environment.”

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