President Obama has signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act 2012—with funding and provisions for granting military, commercial, and privately-owned unmanned aircraft greater access to US airspace and air traffic management systems modernisation—into law.
The bill includes important provisions on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system; in fact, public airspace in the U.S. is expected to open to unmanned aircraft flights within four years. The bill will also help speed the switch to an air traffic control system based on GPS (global positioning system) technology, rather than on radar.
The bill authorises $63.4 billion in FAA funding over four years, of which roughly $11 billion will be employed in air traffic management (ATM) modernization. FAA staff has until June 2015 to develop new arrival procedures at 35 of the busiest U.S. airports. The NextGen system is expected to help the FAA accommodate projected growth in air traffic over the next decade.
The airline industry, including aircraft owners and airline operators, will be expected to install satellite technology onboard airplanes. The GPS-based technology will actively and accurately update aircraft location and enhance pilots’ situational awareness, such that they can see the location of both their own aircraft and of other planes equipped with the technology.
Congress included language requiring the FAA to expedite the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and set a deadline of 30 Sept. 2015 for full integration.
Read the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 online here.
Source: Avionics Intelligence