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Proposed new rules and a pilot project ended up unveiled to allow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, to fly overnight and over people without waivers under certain conditions and to further integrate drones safely into the national airspace system.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao issued the proposals.

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In the flying drones over people proposal, it would allow operations of small unmanned aircraft over people in certain conditions and operations of small UAS at night without obtaining a waiver. It would also require remote pilots in command to present their remote pilot in command certificate as well as identification to certain federal, state, or local officials, upon request, and proposes to amend the knowledge testing requirements in the rules that apply to small UAS operations to require training every 24 calendar months. This proposal would be the next phase in integrating small UAS using a risk-based approach. These amendments would allow expanded small UAS operations and reduce the knowledge testing burden on remote pilot in command certificate holders.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will seek public input to identify major drone safety and security issues that may pose a threat to other aircraft, to people on the ground or to national security as drones are integrated into our national airspace.

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In the pilot project, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System Pilot Project will be distinct, but complementary to, the traditional FAA’s air traffic management system.

The pilot project, through September 2019, is intended to develop and demonstrate a traffic management system to safely integrate drone flights within the nation’s airspace system. Also, the pilot project will create a shared information network and gather data that can be used for future rulemakings.

Through a stringent application and evaluation process, the following providers were selected based on the strength of industry partnership, the maturity of the technology offered, and overall cost: Nevada UAS Test Site Smart Silver State; Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site; and, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership.

These contracts have been awarded to mature technologies for unmanned aircraft traffic management including, flight planning, communications, aircraft separation and weather services for these drones, which will operate under 400 feet.

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