On March 7, the FAA released a document
which tasked its Drone Advisory Committee (DAC)
, a long-term advisory board comprised of drone and tech industry leaders, with providing recommendations on how to fund the integration of drones
into the National Airspace System (NAS).
Sounds harmless ― but the FAA went on to say if additional funding isn’t found, then the progress of the drone industry will be greatly impacted. This will undoubtedly affect those who fly drones in a variety of ways.
How the FAA gets money
Currently, the FAA primarily receives funding from the Aviation Trust Fund, which is made up of a collection of excise taxes imposed on aviation users. Such taxes are tacked onto airline tickets, international arrivals and departures, and the use of aviation fuels. In 2016, these taxes made up a whopping 87.8% of the FAA’s funding. But remember: The FAA does a lot more than drones, so that money gets doled out to many different groups, programs, and employees within the Administration.
The document doesn’t outline how much of this budget is allocated to the Administration’s drone integration efforts, but it does paint a dire picture of the FAA’s UAS branch.
According to the document, the FAA has kept its drone efforts running primarily by reallocating its staff and shifting internal funds. But absorbing the costs of activities like implementing Part 107
, creating the B4UFly smartphone app, and developing a UAS integration framework is currently impacting the FAA’s ability to meet its many other responsibilities outside of the UAS arena.
“The requirement to meet UAS needs is outpacing the Agency’s resources. Without additional funds, the FAA will not be able to keep pace with the dramatic growth in public, industry, and business demands for UAS operations,” the FAA said in the document.