President Donald Trump and his Administration said Wednesday they are creating a new drone Integration Pilot Program that will accelerate drone integration into the national airspace system.

Under this pilot program, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will enter into agreements with State, local, and tribal governments to establish innovation zones for testing complex UAS operations and to attempt different models for integrating drones into local airspace.

A White House statement described America’s regulatory framework for aviation as “outdated,” stifling technology growth in this area, and causing tech firms to seek commercial testing and deployment opportunities overseas.

Calling drones a “critical” part of aviation, the Administration said drones present opportunities to enhance the safety of the American public, increase the efficiency and productivity of American industry, and create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

These are the highlights of the program:

  • Using existing Federal authorities, the program will accelerate testing of currently restricted UAS operations – such as beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights and flights over people.
  • This program will open the skies for the delivery of life-saving medicines and commercial packages, inspections of critical infrastructure, support for emergency management operations, and surveys of crops for precision agriculture applications.
  • The pilot program will also allow testing of new UAS traffic management systems and detection and tracking capabilities, which are needed to fully integrate UAS operations into the national airspace system.
  • The pilot program will increase the number and complexity of UAS operations across the Nation, and will help in the development of a future national aviation regulatory framework that can fuel American leadership in unmanned aviation.