Eno Launches Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Project, Seeks Research Consultant

April 12, 2019

The United States’ national airspace is poised to host an increased presence of autonomous and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the coming years. While many of these UAS are still in their development stages, federal action has been slow to develop in tandem. The time is ripe for the formation of new transportation policy on integrating autonomy into U.S. airspace.

UAS are no longer hobby drones or simply technological curiosities. Major firms like Amazon and UPS are developing commercial applications for package delivery. Boeing is developing cargo aircraft that will not need pilots to operate. The defense industry is increasingly testing unmanned aircraft in domestic civil airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that the number of commercial UAS could grow from 110,604 in 2017 to over 700,000 in 2022. At the same time, the number of “small” (under 55-pound) drones used for recreational purposes could double in the same five years, from 1.1 million to over 2.4 million. Each of these systems will have differing levels of human control; from automated systems that require pilots or remote-control backups to those flying completely autonomously.

Determining how these devices are integrated into the national airspace system (NAS) is a critical imperative facing the industry and the federal government. It will define how aviation advances in the coming decade and redefine the future of the FAA. While the recent 5-year FAA reauthorization addressed some of these issues, it mostly lays the groundwork for future rulemaking. A number of unanswered policy questions exist with no clear, objective recommendations to address them. Despite some recent progress, evidence suggests that substantial barriers to UAS integration still exist. Therefore, the Eno initiative seeks to address two critical questions:

1: How should the FAA comprehensively certify all UAS?

2: How can FAA safely integrate them into the national airspace?

Eno is convening a group of wide-ranging stakeholders in this conversation together to tackle this new frontier in aviation and help shape the future of the FAA. Eno’s Aviation Working Group has long provided a forum for industry stakeholders including airlines, airports, manufacturers, private operators, controllers, academics, former government officials, and the larger business community to engage in in-depth policy dialogues and provide input to Eno’s independent and rigorous research and policy recommendations.

Co-chaired by former Senator Byron Dorgan and former Secretary of Transportation James Burnley, the Working Group first convened to tackle the issue of air traffic control reform. Between 2013 and 2015, Eno gathered the aviation community’s top leaders, influencers and policymakers to inform research and develop specific steps that could be taken to reform the FAA and address the issues of infrastructure and operations. The recommendations were bold, pragmatic, and actionable and have already dramatically changed the nature of the conversation surrounding air traffic control reform. Recommendations from the Working Group’s next project on aviation certification were incorporated in the recent FAA reauthorization.

As part of this, Eno is seeking a qualified research consultant to take on the challenge of the analysis aspect of this program. Those interested can view the request for proposals here. Proposals for this position are due Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Eno will bring the lessons learned from this initiative and its extensive network to make progress on this this new challenge. Together with the Working Group, Eno will collaborate to ensure the research, publications, and public forums produced through this initiative are practical, actionable and positioned to inform and educate policymakers.


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