The Senate on Wednesday approved a 14-month authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that lays out a number of provisions related to the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and also bolsters aviation security.
The Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 by a vote of 89-4 while the House on Monday approved the legislation by voice vote. The bill goes to the president for his consideration.
In the area of aviation security the bill doubles the number of mobile security teams, called VIPR teams, used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to protect the nation’s transportation networks. The bill would allow up to 60 VIPR teams, which could operate in the non-secure or soft areas of airports and other transit hubs.
The bill also provides new funding for law enforcement training for active shooter incidents and allows State Homeland Security Grant funding be used for airport and surface transportation security in non-secure areas.
Among the UAS provisions, the bill reauthorizes FAA UAS test sites and requires the agency to work with an existing UAS executive committee to develop a research plan on the technical, procedural and policy issues related to integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.
The bill also directs FAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to work with other stakeholders to develop risk-based consensus industry standards on UAS aircraft safety. It also directs NIST and the FAA to work with industry stakeholders on consensus standards for remote identification of UAS.
The bill also includes a sense of Congress that commercial UAS users, excluding news organizations, should have a written policy on the collection, use, retention and dissemination of data collected by UAS.