Cities will have some new flying neighbors in our skies in 2021. Drones represent the fastest-growing segment of the entire transportation sector – with currently over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots. This is why the National League of Cities is forming the Unmanned Air Mobility Integration Advisory Forum, which will be a working group of leading cities to advise the FAA, major companies like UPS and Amazon, Congress, and drone technology leaders on the future of their flight in cities. Whether it’s package delivery by small lightweight drones to remote locations or urban air mobility transit providers in large urban areas, every community has a vested interest in ensuring what takes off.
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In the final days of 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the drone identification rule which was the last missing piece for leading U.S. companies like UPS, Amazon, and Google to be using their authorities already given by the FAA to advance deliveries by drone. The FAA is also working on an updated Concept of Operations for Urban Air Mobility, and companies like KittyHawk that make drone apps and software for individual drone pilots are interested in knowing how to communicate seamlessly with cities. The new Forum will be a guiding force to collectively advise how drones can best serve and integrate into our cities and towns.
Areas for City Input
The new NLC Advisory Forum will be comprised of no more than twenty-five large and small cities and towns with roles in managing airports of different sizes, transportation planning, and strategic technology deployments. These communities will be:
- providing directional insight to key government partners;
- reviewing concepts of operations for how they would work in various types of communities;
- offering insight on drone technology including Unmanned Traffic Management systems; and
- sharing essential principles of operations among industry stakeholders and partners in aviation.
Now is the time for cities to work closely across sectors and levels of government to guide the successful use of drones in neighborhoods and downtowns, by applying traditional local authorities like zoning and noise ordinances and outlining infrastructure improvements for federal investment.
Who Should Join
Here are just a few communities and local officials who could contribute and gain a lot from Forum participation:
- Communities who have begun to explore drone operations
- Cities with strong commercial and general aviation airports
- Communities with local officials who have aviation experience, work closely with their airports, or even help with major events
- Towns in remote or spread out areas where delivery would greatly improve quality of life
- Cities with complex airspace and infrastructure with a unique perspective
Join the Forum
Communities interested in joining the Advisory Forum should provide their statement of interest by January 8, 2021. If you require an extension or have additional questions about the Advisory Forum, contact Brittney Kohler, Legislative Director, Transportation and Infrastructure, at email@example.com.