FAA Announces $6 Million in Funds for Drone Integration Safety Work
June 07, 2019      

The FAA announced last week it will partner with qualified commercial companies who can match the agency’s $6 million pledge to perform vital drone integration safety work at the FAA’s UAS test sites.

With commercial drone use in the U.S. beginning, the FAA is looking to partner with the commercial companies themselves to ensure that these systems and the technology powering their integration are done safely.

“The FAA intends to bridge the gap between industry and the test sites to tackle some of our most difficult technical and operational challenges,” said Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell at the FAA UAS Symposium in Baltimore.

Companies looking to apply for the federal funds must be able to meet a number of conditions. First, they must be able to match the federal funds requested through the program. Secondly, they must be in a current contractual relationship with the FAA, or be able to prove that funding received would enable it to enter into a contract with an FAA test site.

Companies must have the technical capability to work on the following drone integration technologies deemed essential by the FAA:

  • Develop and enforce geographic and altitude limitations (Geo-fencing);
  • Provide for alerts by the manufacturer of an unmanned aircraft system regarding any hazards or limitations on flight, including prohibition on flight as necessary;
  • Sense and avoid capabilities (SAA);
  • Beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations (BVLOS);
  • Night time operations;
  • Operations over people;
  • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems;
  • Unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM);
  • Other critical research priorities; and
  • Improve privacy protections through the use of advances in unmanned aircraft systems technology.

How to apply:

The application process has two steps. Step 1 is a white paper package which is due by June 28, 2019. If that package is accepted, a full proposal must be submitted by July 31, 2019. The FAA expects to award contracts by September 30, 2019. The funding for the partnership was mandated and provided by Congress in the FAA’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. Prospective applicants can learn more here.