Traditional airplanes and helicopters are increasingly being joined in the skies by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). With the growing popularity of UAS technology, it is important to develop policies and procedures that balance safety and privacy so this tool can continue to be used effectively in the region.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is working with the public, first responders, the aviation industry and other partners to encourage safe operation of all types of aircraft.
At the request of its Air Transportation Technical Advisory Committee, NCTCOG has compiled a report detailing UAS policy, currently approved operational frameworks, and recommendations to municipalities that promote safe operation of unmanned aircraft, address privacy concerns and consider opportunities to capitalize on the benefits of this emerging technology.
UAS technology is becoming increasingly more affordable and leveraged in other sectors, including search and rescue, agriculture and transportation planning. Instead of relying on manned aircraft, agencies may now be able to safely obtain the same or higher quality data and information more cost-effectively with unmanned platforms.
With two major commercial, 11 reliever and 56 general aviation airports in the region, safe use of this technology is a priority for NCTCOG and its regional aviation partners. Nationally, an estimated 25 incidents where unmanned aircraft are flying too high in active airspace occur monthly, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In recent months, there have been examples of unauthorized UAS activity near local airports.
While the federal government is reviewing public comments on a proposed rulemaking for the use of small unmanned aircraft, local aviation and law enforcement officials have requested coordination to promote safe regional UAS operation and planning support for integration of the technology. This includes guidelines and education to ensure people using these increasingly capable aircraft are not interfering with traditional flight operations.
NCTCOG will continue working with partners through workshops and other outreach efforts to help facilitate a regional effort that allows UAS technology to realize its potential while ensuring the skies remain safe for traditional aviation activities. For more on this regional effort, visit NCTCOG.org/uas.
NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication and make joint decisions.