Secrecy News

Drones in Domestic Airspace, and More from CRS

A survey of policy issues raised by the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in domestic U.S. airspace was presented in a new report yesterday from the Congressional Research Service.

The report described the current and projected market for UAS, applications of UAS in government and industry, safety and security issues, the current regulatory environment, and pending legislation affecting UAS. See Unmanned Aircraft Operations in Domestic Airspace: U.S. Policy Perspectives and the Regulatory Landscape, January 27, 2016.

“As UAS technology develops rapidly, the United States faces significant challenges in balancing safety requirements, privacy concerns, and economic interests,” the CRS report said.

“Hundreds of thousands of small UAS are already being operated as recreational model aircraft and hobby drones that are permitted under a special rule for model aircraft…. In addition, several hundred public agencies and more than 3,000 businesses have been granted approval to operate UAS on a case-by-case basis. Once regulations and guidelines are put in place, large growth in UAS operations is anticipated.”

“As UAS operations have increased, a number of safety concerns have emerged, particularly with regard to use of model aircraft and hobby drones. UAS flights have interfered with airline crews near busy airports and with aircraft fighting wildfires, and have posed safety and security hazards at outdoor events and in restricted areas.”

“To address both safety and security concerns, a number of technology solutions are being examined to detect airborne UAS and pinpoint the location of the operator. Technologies to disable, jam, take control over, or potentially destroy a small UAS are also being developed and tested.”

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In another new report issued yesterday, CRS presented statistics on how the Senate responded to judicial nominations in the eighth year of the Reagan, Clinton and GW Bush presidencies.

“More than half of the circuit court nominations that were pending before the Senate during each President’s final year in office were not confirmed by the Senate,” the report found. See Final Senate Action on U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations During a President’s Eighth Year in Office, January 27, 2016.

Also newly updated this week is Ozone Air Quality Standards: EPA’s 2015 Revision, January 25, 2016.