In a recent letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, fuel, petrochemical, and chemical industry organizations are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement section 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.
The American Chemistry Council, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the Alliance for Chemical Distribution co-authored a letter to Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate committee, and Senator Ted Cruz, the Ranking Member of the Senate committee.
Section 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 required the FAA to establish a process to allow applicants to petition the FAA Administrator to prohibit or restrict the operation of an unmanned aircraft in close proximity to a fixed site facility. Examples of fixed site facilities include critical infrastructure, such as energy production, transmission, distribution facilities and equipment, railroad facilities, oil refineries, chemical facilities, amusement parks, and other locations that warrant such restrictions.
The primary concern of the three organizations is the fact that the FAA has not issued a final rule on section 2209, and fixed-site chemical, fuel, and petrochemical operators have little authority to prohibit uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) incursions in and around their facilities. Prior to the FAA granting the carriage of hazardous materials by UAS, the chemical organizations would like section 2209 final rulemaking implemented.
The letter stated, “The risks to our facilities of overflights of hazardous materials by UAS are considerable. If new authority is given to UAS operators to transport even small quantities of hazardous materials before the FAA finalizes a Section 2209 rulemaking, our facilities will be put at even greater risk. As you consider granting new authorities to UAS operators to transport these materials (as granted in Section 617 of H.R.3935 and Section 816 of S.1939), we urge you to tie any new authorities to the completion of a final Section 2209 rulemaking.”
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