WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today after the White House directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a pilot program meant to accelerate the adoption of unmanned aircraft by allowing state and local government to experiment with allowing drone operations in their airspace.
“I am glad the Administration has finally taken this long-awaited step to help our country keep its edge in the development of autonomous aircraft technology. This drone pilot program will help us explore the enormous potential of this technology to create jobs and expand the reach of small businesses all across the country, while also providing crucial participation from states and localities. As this program is implemented, we must ensure that federal authority over our airspace is maintained to protect against a burdensome and complicated patchwork of local rules that could impede the full implementation of this innovative technology. Virginia has been a leader in the field of unmanned aircraft systems and I look forward to making the case that we should be a leading participant in this program.”
Virginia is home to one of six FAA-approved sites where researchers are testing the safest and most effective ways to incorporate UAS into the existing airspace. Sen. Warner has been a strong supporter of research and investment in unmanned systems, including driverless cars, drones, and unmanned submersibles.