U.S. Senate Hears from Drone Experts

July 12, 2019

On Tuesday, June 18th, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing titled, “Drone Security: Enhancing Innovation and Mitigating Supply Chain Risks.” Harold Shaw, Chief Security Officer for the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) testified on the importance of drone security and measures that can be taken to mitigate risks related to their inappropriate use.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, convened the hearing to examine the implications of these unmanned systems. The Committee’s Ranking Member is Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. In his remarks, Chairman Sullivan asked for this hearing to address methods of collaboration for federal, state, and private organizations to protect and enhance the safety of civilians and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) users, as drones have the potential to generate huge benefits to society.

Harold Shaw was part of an expert panel that gave testimony on security threats and challenges posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In his testimony, Mr. Shaw addressed first and foremost that the rise in incidences of UAS within government airspace signals the need for a swift but thoughtful solution to the risk that these incidents present. Due to the strong growth and sales of the UAS industry, law and policy changes are imperative to mitigating these risks. The primary cause for concern is the need for policy and training for civilians operating their own drones. Several past incidents at the Gatwick and Newark airports have highlighted this problem. Emphasizing the need for expanded pilot programs authorized by the FAA and legislation such as The Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, Mr. Shaw called for the FAA to consider Logan Airport in its UAS detection systems pilot program to help further the goal of establishing a concrete drone policy.

This hearing counted on a variety of experts including individuals from the FAA,  the National Defense University, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, and the Alaska Center for UAS Integration. Harold Shaw’s testimony helped inform Senators and others in attendance on how to create a safer and more responsible environment for drone usage at a time when that industry is expanding. It is particularly important as Congress and the FAA look to integrate UAS into United States airspace.

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