Sens. Cruz, Warner, and Budd Introduce Legislation To Prevent Medical Discrimination Against Drone Operators

February 26, 2024

Fair Qualifications for Pilots Act would spare UAS operators from onerous medical certifications meant for commercial airline pilots 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) recently introduced the Fair Qualifications for Pilots Act, bipartisan legislation that would prevent medical discrimination against operators of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by prohibiting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from imposing onerous medical requirements.

Currently, counter to the recommendations of the FAA-sponsored Beyond Visual Line of Sight Aviation Rulemaking Committee, prospective commercial UAS operators are required to meet the same medical qualifications as commercial pilots, despite the clear differences in physical demands between the two roles.  

Upon introduction of the Fair Qualifications for Pilots Act, Sen. Cruz said:

“Subjecting the operators of commercial drones, like those operating in Texas, to the same medical requirements as commercial pilots is completely illogical and will only limit the potential of this nascent technology. Our bipartisan legislation is consistent with issued recommendations, which state that the FAA should develop tailored medical qualifications for UAS operators. I am grateful to be joined by Sens. Warner and Budd in this important effort to prevent the medical discrimination of capable drone operators based on unreasonable and unnecessary standards.”

Sen. Warner said:

“The development and integration of unmanned systems into our economy has opened numerous doors and created countless opportunities, but right now we are using dated regulations to oversee a new technology. This legislation would eliminate unnecessary and discriminatory requirements that have prevented talented and capable pilots from operating these machines, diversifying and growing the drone workforce.”

Sen. Budd added:

“The FAA should always prioritize safety in its regulations, but they must also use common sense. Burdensome medical requirements on drone pilots place an additional barrier to entry for UAS operators and could harm America’s thriving UAS industry. I’m proud to help propose legislation that would fix this issue.”

The Fair Qualifications for Pilots Act received the support of DroneUP, a growing last-mile delivery company building drone hubs throughout the United States.

As Tom Walker, Founder and CEO of DroneUp said,

“DroneUp would like to express its strong support for the recently introduced Fair Qualifications for Pilots Act. This bipartisan legislation will address an obvious impediment in the ability for drone operators, like DroneUp, to hire drone pilots who may have medical conditions that impede their ability to pilot a manned aircraft but pose no issue with piloting a drone.  We appreciate the leadership of Senators Ted Cruz, Mark Warner and Ted Budd in this effort and their long-standing support for DroneUp and the entire drone industry.”

Read the full text of this legislation HERE.