The recent release of the final report by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Detection and Mitigating Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was welcomed by Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) and the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) last week. The report recommends advancing airspace safety and security by advocating for the expanded utilization of drone detection and mitigation technologies. ACI-NA Executive Vice President Matt Cornelius and AUVSI Chief Advocacy Officer Michael Robbins served as co-chairs for the ARC.

The ARC recommends the FAA, with other relevant federal agencies:

  • Ensure that all policy decisions are based on a thorough understanding of the industry and that detection and mitigation issues are considered separately for policy purposes.
  • Conduct the necessary research and analysis to establish minimum performance standards, a safety framework, best practices, training programs, and a continually evolving approved list of UAS detection and mitigation systems technologies.
  • Establish testing protocols and use approved third parties for system testing and authorization.
  • Establish an entity for airport terminal airspace operations that is responsible for UAS detection and mitigation system monitoring and aircraft deconfliction, as deconfliction is an Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) function that cannot be adequately managed by a detection and mitigation system operator or air traffic control as currently configured.
  • Develop a clear approval process for detection and mitigation deployment at airports and non-airport facilities and require detection system operators to complete training and mitigation system operators to complete training and certification. However, the acquisition and deployment of detection and mitigation by airports should remain optional and never be required by the federal government.
  • Create a scalable regulatory framework for operational requirements with privacy protections for UAS operators and for the public. The framework should include verified operator and data-sharing programs, noting that any information accessed or exchanged from the agency must have sufficient privacy and security safeguards similar to manned aircraft operators.

Comments from the ARC Co-Chairs

“Airports are chiefly concerned with ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public, airport workers, and airport infrastructure,” said ACI-NA Executive Vice President Matt Cornelius, co-chair of the ARC. “We thank all the experts who contributed their time and efforts to this important initiative to develop a roadmap for providing the aviation community and others with the tools needed to protect critical infrastructure like airports. We look forward to continuing our work with the FAA and other relevant federal agencies in implementing the recommendations contain in this report.”

“The U.S. is positioned for global leadership in demonstrating how effective UAS detection and mitigation policies and technologies can ensure airspace safety and security, while enabling UAS market growth,” said Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer at AUVSI and co-chair of the ARC. “We thank the public safety community and other stakeholders reflecting a diverse range of perspectives for their participation on the Committee, and this report reflects their input. We call on the FAA to move swifty to implement the ARC plan to bring forward the benefits that detection and mitigation tools can provide to public safety, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and other entities, while also enabling expanded safe and secure drone operations.”

ARC Background

Established through the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, the FAA UAS Detection and Mitigation Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee’s report makes recommendations for the expanded use of, and possible standards for, drone detection and mitigation technologies. The recommendations in this report are intended to provide a framework of actions and policies to promote the safe and widespread adoption of UAS detection and mitigation systems that do not adversely impact or interfere with the safe and efficient operation of the National Air Space.

The ARC Charter was signed in March 2023, and the Committee began its work in May 2023. Committee membership included representatives from more than 50 groups in the crewed and uncrewed aviation communities, government entities, law enforcement, various subject matter experts, and other stakeholders. Abigail Smith, the Executive Director of the UAS Security Office, was the ARC lead for the FAA, along with Tonya Coultas, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Security and Hazardous Materials Safety.

More information on the final UAS Detection and Mitigation ARC Report can be found here.

Post Image- Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at Sunset (Image Credit: Adobe Stock by Billy Hardiman)