Washington, D.C. – 1 AUG 2012 – Congressmen Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) along with eight other members of Congress co-signed on a letter addressed to the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Mr. Michael P. Huerta. The letter expressed thanks for FAA’s continued efforts for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace system (NAS) and identified concerns over the ability of FAA to achieve integration timelines as mandated by Congress as well as clarification of the term “integration” as it is found in both the National Defense and FAA Authorization bills of 2012. Congressman McKeon, along with the co-signors reemphasized their commitment to UAS integration by lending their legislative support to Mr. Huerta and encouraged the FAA to continue working with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in leveraging their experience to aid in the safe and expedited integration of UAS.
The recently passed National Defense and FAA Authorization bills directed the FAA to chart a course toward the safe and responsible integration of UAS into our national airspace by 2015, and in turn, unlock the incredible potential of the UAS technology. Unmanned systems have tremendous potential to save time, money and lives by extending the human reach, allowing us to tackle dangerous and difficult tasks safely and efficiently. “Defense, intelligence, scientific, and law enforcement agencies along with broad support from the general public recognize the true value of unmanned systems and their ability to provide exceptional situational awareness at a substantially lower cost, minimizing risks and protecting lives.”
The expanded use of unmanned aircraft will lead to more jobs and economic growth. In 2010, the unmanned aircraft industry forecast that incorporation of unmanned aircraft into national airspace would result in 23,000 new jobs by 2025. Moreover, in 2010 the average wage across the aerospace industry was more than $80,000 per year. “The U.S. is a leader in this field but the rest of the world is catching up. If we do not move forward as scheduled with UAS integration into the national airspace, we could lose out to other countries. My district is the centerpiece of America’s aerospace industry. The hard-working Americans that make up this industry take pride in the fact that they are on the cutting edge of this incredible technology. “As this technology shifts from the battlefield to civilian and commercial uses, we will only see more of these jobs created.”
As co-chair of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus I continue to educate the members of Congress and the public on the strategic, tactical, and scientific value of unmanned systems. It is important to acknowledge their overwhelming value and recognize the urgent need to rapidly develop and deploy more of these systems in support of ongoing civil, military, and law enforcement operations. The members of the bipartisan caucus are committed to the growth and expansion of these systems in all sectors.