September 26, 2020

Amazon and Google drone lobbying group seeks FAA Rules

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Amazon-droneBy Andrew Ramonas, From Corporate Counsel

As the U.S. government drafts rules for the use of commercial drones, Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and other backers of the unmanned aircraft are working to ensure they are on the radar of federal lawmakers and regulators.

The Small UAV Coalition, which includes Amazon, Google and other members of the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, brought drone supporters together in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday in an effort to showcase the aircraft and compel the government to act on updating regulations. Although Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate commercial drones into U.S. air traffic by Sept. 30, the agency is unlikely to meet that target. With a ban on commercial drones currently in place, only a few companies have received an FAA exemption to operate the aircraft.

Michael Drobac, the Small UAV Coalition’s executive director, said his group isn’t “here to lay blame” or “criticize.” Rather, the organization seeks to be “part of the solution.” Drobac, who also is an Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld senior policy adviser, leads a team of seven lobbyists at the firm who are advocating for the Small UAV Coalition, according to congressional records.

“They face significant regulatory and legal hurdles,” Drobac said of drone industry members. “But we believe that it’s incumbent upon us to go to those regulatory officials and to lawmakers to present the pathway to safe and responsible integration of UAVs into the airspace.”

It’s unclear how far away commercial drone rules are. The FAA was supposed to release draft regulations by December. But the agency’s proposed rules are still under review.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said at the gathering that he is ready to help the Small UAV Coalition get its drones off the ground.

“I look forward to working with you,” Blumenauer said. “If it’s the FAA that we’ve got to deal with, so be it. Let’s think about ways to help them do the job better.”

The Small UAV Coalition, which launched in August, uses Akin Gump to conduct “outreach to FAA, Congress, the White House and other federal agencies and media, to advance goals and interests of the small UAV manufacturers, operators and users, and the industry that supports small UAVs,” according to a lobbying activity report filed with Congress. The firm received $220,000 for its advocacy help last year.

The association formed less than a year after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2013 unveiled plans for a drone delivery program called Prime Air. In 2014, Google announced the liftoff of Project Wing, also intended to bring drone delivery services.

David Vos, Wing’s project leader at Google, said the FAA is “behind the curve” on rules, but conceded the agency’s job is hard.

“We really are in a state here where things are up in the air, so to speak,” he said. “They’ve happened at a dramatic pace that has never ever been seen before in the history of aviation.”

IMAGE: Amazon

For more and video go to: http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202715547627/Amazon-and-Google-Drone-Lobbying-Group-Seeks-FAA-Rules#ixzz3PSR2Mpmb

 

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