Senate appropriators are recommending that the Pentagon increase its funding for coordinating with federal civilian agencies to improve the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Air Space.

Precision Drone's Pacesetter UAS for the agricultural industry. Photo: Precision Drones
Precision Drone’s Pacesetter UAS for the agricultural industry. Drones like the Pacesetter will be used at FAA-sponsored test sites to examine the integration of UAS technology into the nation’s airspace. Photo: Precision Drones

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY ’15 Defense Appropriations Bill last week that includes $8.3 million “to ensure a consistent, nationwide approach to airspace integration across both civil and public sectors and in a way that protects privacy and the safety of other aircraft and people on the ground,” says a report accompanying the bill. The Defense Department is seeking $3.7 million under the UAS Common Development Program.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the midst of certifying six UAS test sites nationwide to work on air space integration challenges. The agency in August is also expected to announce a final solicitation for a UAS Center of Excellence (COE) that will study technical issues for integrating UAS into the national air space, including detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, compatibility with air traffic control operations, and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crew members.

The forthcoming UAS COE will also work with the national test sites.

The funding providing under the UAS Common Development Program will help DoD work with the FAA and NASA in the “development and demonstration of common UAS standards, architecture, and technologies,” the report says.