Drone Advisory Committee: Senate Bill Would Require Greater Transparency, Representation

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Drone Advisory Committee: Senate Bill Would Require Greater Transparency, Representation
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A Senate Bill, now on the President’s desk, would require changes in the membership composition of the influential Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The Drone Advisory Committee was established to provide “independent advice and recommendations” to the U.S. Dept. of […]


drone advisory committee

A Senate Bill, now on the President’s desk, would require changes in the membership composition of the influential Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The Drone Advisory Committee was established to provide “independent advice and recommendations” to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and FAA on drone regulations, according to the DAC charter.

S.2730 is titled “Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act.” The Summary of the proposal is simple:

This bill requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take appropriate steps to encourage direct representation of county and tribal governments, as well as agriculture, forestry, rangeland sectors, and other rural interests on the Drone Advisory Committee.

The FAA must include public participation in the process of nominating individuals for membership on the committee.

The Drone Advisory Committee bill, introduced more than a year ago, is sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and co-sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).

New Members

The current membership is led by former CEO and Advisory Board Chair at Precision Hawk, Michael Chasen. The committee includes members of the drone industry including software and hardware solution providers, pilots, local government representatives, and emergency services stakeholders. Earlier this year, the FAA asked for applications for new membership: the 75 eligible applications received before August 18, 2020, will be considered for vacant positions. (See full list of current members below.)

If signed by the President, S.2730 may influence the choices of new members – and the way that they are made.

Transparency

The DAC was a major move towards the public and private collaboration on drone integration. Since then, the DAC has done a lot of hard work in making recommendations for regulations, but has occasionally been criticized for operating without full transparency and leaning to heavily on stakeholders from the drone industry. (DAC meetings are open to the public, indivual task groups work together and then report their findings to the group at the public meetings. Videos of the last two meetings, held virtually, are available online: meeting minutes of all other meetings are also available.)

It’s unclear how the FAA might include the public in the process of nominating members to the DAC, but S. 2730 does make the “Sense of Congress” on the issue of greater public participation clear:

Current Membership

Chair

Michael Chasen, Chairman of the Advisory Board, PrecisionHawk USA, Inc.

Designated Federal Officer

Arjun Garg, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration

Airports and Airport Communities

  • Vacant
  • Vacant

Labor (controllers, pilots)

  • Trish Gilbert, Executive Vice President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association pilots)
  • Joseph DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)

Local Government

  • David Greene, Bureau of Aeronautics Director, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • WadeTroxell, Mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado, and the National League of Cities
  • Bob Brock, Director of Aviation and UAS, Kansas Department of Transportation
  • Mark Colborn, Senior Corporal, Dallas Police Department
  • Michael Leo, Captain, New York City Fire Department
  • Vacant

Navigation, Communication, Surveillance, and Air Traffic Management Capability Providers

  • Vacant
  • Vacant
  • Mariah Scott, President, Skyward (a Verizon company)

Research, Development, and Academia

  • Robie Samanta Roy, Vice President of Technology, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Traditional Manned Aviation Operators

  • Mark Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • Houston Mills, Vice President, Flight Operations and Safety, United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Lorne Cass, President, Aero NowGen Solutions, LLC
  • Vacant

UAS Hardware Component Manufacturers

  • Vacant
  • Christian Ramsey, President, uAvionix Corporation

UAS Manufacturers

  • James Burgess, Chief Executive Officer, Wing (an Alphabet company)
  • Michael Chasen, Chairman, Advisory Board, PrecisionHawk USA Inc.
  • Vacant
  • Brendan Schulman, Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs, DJI Technology
  • Michael Sinnett, Vice President Product Development and Strategy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

UAS Operators

  • Greg Agvent, Senior Director of National News Technology, CNN
  • Todd Graetz, Director, Technology Services, UAS Program, BNSF Railway

UAS Software Application Manufacturers

  • Jaz Banga, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Airspace Systems, Inc.
  • Chris Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, 3DR
  • Vacant

Other

  • Rich Hanson, President, Academy of Model Aeronautics
  • Brian Wynne, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

Stakeholder Group

  • Thomas Karol, General Counsel, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
  • David Silver, Vice President for Civil Aviation, Aerospace Industries Association
  • Lee Moak, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of The Moak Group