Data collected from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) seven drone test sites is not being fully utilized to support efforts to integrate drones into the National Airspace System, a government watchdog agency says.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said, in a report issued last week, that the test sites have been used by private and public organizations to test technologies “in preparation for varied UAS [unmanned aircraft systems, as drones are sometimes called] activities, from inspecting utilities to carrying passengers.”
The FAA has said that the programs provide research results that are required to enable full integration of drones into the airspace.
“While FAA collects this data … it has not fully leveraged the data or the program to advance UAS integration,” the report said. “FAA officials said the agency intends to use the data to a greater extent in the future to advance integration. Without an analysis plan, however, FAA could miss opportunities to better use the data to inform the overall integration effort, such as to inform UAS standards.”
The GAO document said that FAA reports on the research projects have included limited information about how the research relates to the drone integration plans. The report added that the FAA’s reasoning has been that the agency was concerned about protecting the site users’ proprietary data.
The report included recommendations that the FAA develop a data analysis plan for information coming from the test sites and that it share more information while still protecting proprietary data.