Wicker, Peters Urge FAA to Include Broad Rural Representation on Drone Advisory Committee

June 19, 2019

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Gary Peters, D-Mich., sent a letter to Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging him to include representatives from rural America, including agriculture, forestry, and rangeland stakeholders, on the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The Senators emphasized the importance of ensuring broad rural representation and improved efficiency and safety of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee is a broad-based, long-term Federal advisory committee that provides the FAA with advice on key UAS integration issues by helping to identify challenges and prioritize improvements. Currently there are no direct representatives of rural America or the agricultural community on the advisory committee.

Excerpt from the letter to Acting Administrator Elwell:

On May 8, 2019, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on New Entrants in the National Airspace, in which Jay Merkle, Executive Director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, testified. Mr. Merkle stated, “[I]n the composition of the Drone Advisory Committee, we support having a wide range of users, manufacturers, and operators.” However, “it is really up to the Congress and the Secretary how that is composed.”

We appreciate the FAA’s efforts to assemble a diverse DAC. However, due to the ever-increasing use of UAS in the agriculture, forestry, and rangeland sectors, as well as the inherently different uses for UAS in the less populated parts of our nation, we believe it is important that the DAC include direct representatives from rural parts of America, particularly in the agriculture, forestry, and rangeland sectors of our economy. We, therefore, request that you take steps to ensure broad rural representation on the DAC.

Read the full letter to Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell here. The committee exercises jurisdiction over the FAA.