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FAA publishes UTM Implementation Plan, anticipates BVLOS drone operations

The plan is designed “to allow for the implementation of unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM) services that expand operations beyond visual line of sight, have full operational capability, and ensure the safety and security of all aircraft”. The Plan addresses FAA’s efforts to make UTM a reality, specifically its near-term and long-term plans, and the gaps in policy that must be resolved to have “full operational capability.”

Divided into sections, the Plan addresses key policy decisions in the FAA’s 2020 UTM Concept of Operations (ConOps) Version 2 and highlights lessons learned from research including the UTM Pilot Program (UPP); describes safety standards; defines agency roles and responsibilities; describes the benefits and risks; and concludes with the near-term approval processes needed to enable UTM services.

According to the document, drone operators have found it difficult to operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) because the required mitigations to ensure safety of flight are often too technically difficult and expensive for each operator to achieve on their own. UTM services, properly regulated by the FAA, may help BVLOS drone operators ensure safe and scalable operations by mitigating risks and managing large numbers of flights up to 400 feet above ground level (AGL) covering operations where traditional air traffic control (ATC) services are not possible or appropriate.

The Plan serves as a companion document to the 2020 UTM Conops v2, but with additional details and insights about how the FAA is thinking about UTM in the National Airspace System. The Plan does not include the recently announced UTM Key Site activities.

View the plan here

(Image: FAA UTM Ecosystem)

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