Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley, October 25, 2017 – The Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent 501c6 non-profit led by key figures of the commercial drone industry, welcomes the Administration’s recognition of the commercial drone industry’s tremendous potential with its announcement today of a government and industry-supported Pilot Program for UAS integration.

Although details of the Presidential Memorandum are still forthcoming, the Commercial Drone Alliance sees the drone pilot program as an important step in the right direction.

At Drone World Expo, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios remarked, “[T]he [White House] Office of Science and Technology Policy…is committed to implementing smart Federal policies that can not only enhance emerging tech companies’ ability to develop, test, and deploy their technologies here in the U.S., but also enhance Americans’ ability to access and benefit from those innovations.”

The emerging commercial drone industry benefits the public in real and profound ways.  In the wake of recent hurricanes, drones have been used to help restore power and assess damage.  Drones inspect infrastructure, prevent catastrophes, enhance safety for workers, and improve information gathering to benefit Americans.  And drones are routinely used around the world for delivery of medicines and supplies to hard-to-reach areas. 

 While the public benefits of commercial drones are substantial, policymaking has lagged behind the technology in the United States. In an effort to move policy forward, the Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program will establish “innovation hubs” around the country.  Under the program, local and state authorities will collaborate with industry to address needs for different types of commercial UAS operations that are in the public’s interest. We praise the White House and the Department of Transportation for their creativity in helping to bring the vast benefits of this revolutionary technology to the American people. 

The Alliance is optimistic that the Program will become a model for overcoming some of the hurdles keeping the full potential of commercial drones from being realized. The success of this Program will depend on its implementation, which will have to be closely monitored to ensure:

1) The FAA’s Part 107 waiver process greatly improves, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.  It is critical that the process for obtaining waivers under Part 107, whether through this new Program or otherwise, is properly streamlined, transparent and expeditious. The Part 107 waiver itself must also provide meaningful relief for companies operating drones in the real world.

2) The UAS Integration Pilot Program does not take existing resources away from rulemakings that will enable expanded operations and industry-government partnership efforts.

3) There is proper coordination and partnership between federal, state and local governments.

4) The importance of a national standard of safety under the FAA’s oversight is underscored. 

“The indications we’re getting from the White House, Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration more clearly than ever point to a growing realization of how important the commercial drone industry is to the economy,” said Lisa Ellman, Co-Executive Director, Commercial Drone Alliance. “We enthusiastically welcome their efforts and creativity in proposing this UAS Integration Pilot Program between state, local and federal governments and industry.”

Gretchen West, Co-Executive Director, Commercial Drone Alliance, added “We believe this new program will be another important step toward realizing the full value of commercial drones and delivering on their benefits for the American people. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with government agencies and praise the Administration’s enthusiasm for delivering pro-innovation programs to accelerate growth.”  

Formed in May 2016, the Commercial Drone Alliance supports enterprise end-users adopting drone technology and seeks to enable commercial drone market growth. The group’s mission is public and policymaker education to accelerate the realization of commercial drone benefits in a way that ensures the safety, security, and privacy of the public.   

The Commercial Drone Alliance is co-led by industry veterans, Gretchen West and Lisa Ellman, both of Hogan Lovells LLP, a global law firm. Both Gretchen and Lisa are also co-founders of the Women of Commercial Drones organization, a nationwide effort to encourage women to become involved in this market and to mentor women to become leaders in technology.



About the Commercial Drone Alliance

Founded in 2016, the Commercial Drone Alliance is an independent 501c6 non-profit led by the commercial drone industry co-located in Silicon Valley, CA and Washington, DC. The overarching vision of the Alliance is to support commercial enterprise end users and assist them with adopting drone technology into their businesses, reducing barriers to entry, addressing public perception issues, and merging policy with innovation to create relevant rules for operation.