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New Report Finds Problems with FAA Unmanned Traffic Management Effort

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A Jan. 28 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management ecosystem (UTM) lacks information on how progress is measured and adequate communication with stakeholders involved in advancing UAS implementation.

According to the GAO report, the FAA has provided limited information on how UTM will ultimately come together which is limiting the ability of stakeholders to make informed decisions.

“These stakeholders said that not having this information makes it difficult for them to plan for the future and conduct additional testing, which ultimately could increase the time needed to bring certain services to market and implement UTM,” the report states.

The FAA has been working to develop UTM in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since 2015. In 2018 the FAA proposed a broad concept of operations for UTM.

“There is broad consensus among FAA, NASA, and UAS stakeholders that developing and deploying a UTM ecosystem would be a complex undertaking primarily because UTM requires the establishment of regulatory frameworks and the development of operating rules and performance requirements,” the report states. “Further contributing to the complexity, the roles, responsibilities, and activities that will collectively make up the UTM ecosystem are divided among various actors.”

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The concept of operations says FAA will establish rules with the help of research from NASA and operators will be responsible for coordination, execution, and management within the UTM system. According to the report, the FAA expects to use UAS Service Suppliers to exchange data between the FAA and UAS operators within this system.

An updated concept of operations is set to be released in 2021 reflecting new input from the UAS industry and public stakeholders.

In response to the report, the FAA countered that they engage stakeholders however concurred that they could streamline communications into a central location so they would be easier to access.

The report also said the FAA needs to set performance measures to strengthen the UTM implementation plan.

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Source: Kelsey Reichmann

Photo credit: Press

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