Build a robust drone security framework for safer integration of UAS into the national airspace system

The United States is using every tool at its disposal to combat the risks posed by non-compliant actors using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones.

The FAA’s primary role in drone detection and mitigation is to ensure the safety, security, and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS) with respect to manned and unmanned aircraft. We are constantly working to accommodate these beneficial new technologies while minimizing the impacts on our air transportation system or the public. In April, the Biden-Harris administration released the National Counter-UAS Action Plan (C-UAS), which is the first whole-of-government plan to address drone threats in the country. This plan would expand the areas where we can protect ourselves from non-compliant drones, who can take action, and how we can do it legally and safely. We at the FAA were pleased to help develop and support the National Action Plan and C-UAS legislative proposal.

Drones have low barriers to enter the NAS. They are cheap to buy and operate, have wide availability, and are easy to use. As a result, drones are the fastest growing sector in aviation today. While the vast majority of drone operators are engaged in legitimate activity, the risk posed by a negligent, ignorant or criminal actor is deeply concerning.

Drones offer enormous benefits to our economy and society, but we must recognize that the potential misuse of this technology poses unique security challenges. As drone technology evolves, so do the security threats and security risks associated with NAS. It is critical that the federal government work in partnership with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and critical infrastructure partners to stay ahead of this evolution. By taking deliberate and incremental steps, we can better support entities tasked with protecting against emerging UAS-based threats, advancing the administration’s goal of fully integrating drones into the NAS.

In July, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing in support of the safe expansion of C-UAS authorities to help improve our defenses against the operation of drones for improper or improper purposes. dangerous. The FAA testified alongside colleagues from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The three agencies responded to questions from the committee about specific areas of proposed legislation that would extend mitigation power to other federal agencies, SLTT law enforcement agencies, and owners and operators of certain critical infrastructure. The FAA’s primary role in the field of drone detection and mitigation is to support our security partners’ testing and eventual use of detection and mitigation systems, many of which use radio frequency and d other technologies that may interfere with systems critical to flight safety.

For several years, we have witnessed a worrying trend: an increase in the malicious use of drones, including the delivery of militarized payloads, the delivery of contraband – such as narcotics – across borders and into correctional facilities, the monitoring and reconnaissance of critical infrastructure and other sensitive sites for security, cybercrime, and intentional disruption and harassment of law enforcement operations. Where we used to face a primarily two-dimensional security threat that could largely be managed through physical security, camera surveillance, and administrative controls, we now face threats in the third dimension, often easily penetrated with affordable solutions. , easy to use and readily available drones.

The FAA continues to work intensively with our security partners to build a robust drone security framework that will enable the safe and secure integration of drones into the NAS, and the National Action Plan is part of that. Additionally, mandatory registration, remote identification, critical infrastructure protection, and drone detection and mitigation testing are essential steps to ensure the safe and secure integration of these systems into the airspace. of our country.

The aviation industry is no stranger to challenges – and overcomes them. By working together across government and industry, we know we can address emerging drone-based threats so the United States continues to lead the way in full drone integration, while delivering the safest, most efficient and secure airspace system in the world. .

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