Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 27, 2015

Posts in "Drones"

January 23, 2015

A Look Back At The Week: Drone Delays, Smoky Subway

A consultant holds a drone made by HiTec during the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on December 13, 2014.  (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

A consultant holds a drone made by HiTec during the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on December 13, 2014. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

We spent a lot of time this week reporting on something that’s up in the air: the yet-to-be-issued notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) for small remotely piloted aircraft, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

That NPRM will be a big step as the Federal Aviation Administration moves toward a final rule allowing commercial use of drones.

But the FAA may not issue a final rule until 2017 – which drone industry ally Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D- Ore. says is “unacceptable.”

Michael Drobac, head of the Small UAV Coalition, said “technology is being stifled in the U.S., but only in the U.S.”

At a House hearing Wednesday the FAA’s man in charge of UAV integration James Williams said the rule must “go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.” He added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”

Meanwhile airports were one part of the nation’s infrastructure that did not get explicit mention by President Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night – but Congress is going to pass or at least try to pas, an FAA reauthorization bill this year and it could embody significant policy changes.

On the ground or below it, travelers are at risk in our nation’s capital as a fatal Jan. 12 smoke incident on the Metro made dramatically apparent.

D.C.-area members of Congress are pledging to keep a wary watch over Metro managers as they work to fix the safety problems.

January 22, 2015

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

A small remote controlled aircraft is demonstrated during a press conference by the Small UAV Coalition in Washington on Tuesday. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A small remote controlled aircraft is demonstrated during a press conference by the Small UAV Coalition in Washington on Tuesday. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith tried hard at a hearing Wednesday to get the Federal Aviation Administration to say when it will issue its rule on commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle.

But James Williams, the FAA official in charge of integrating UAVs into the nation’s airspace, repeatedly refused to commit to a date.

“Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?” Smith asked at a hearing of the committee on the UAV industry.

Williams said the FAA is working with its partners in the Obama administration, such as the Office of Management and Budget, and the agency is “doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right.”

Full story

January 20, 2015

Drone Industry Leaders Urge Regulatory Speed-Up

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Leaders of the unmanned aerial vehicle industry are out in force in Washington this week, hoping to convince members of Congress to take a hand in speeding up a regulatory process that’s holding back U.S.-based commercial drone makers and software providers.

At the National Press Club Tuesday, companies did indoor test flights of their drones and industry activists listened to pre-lobbying coaching from their leaders and allies.

Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition and a policy adviser at Washington’s Akin Gump law firm, told his members that they face big regulatory hurdles and that “it’s incumbent upon us to go to those regulatory officials and to lawmakers to present the pathway to safe and responsible integration of UAVs into the airspace.”

Full story

January 19, 2015

Week Ahead: Obama Agenda Setter And New Governors

Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan, at the microphone, flanked by other newly elected governors outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Dec. 5, 2014.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan, at the microphone, flanked by other newly elected governors outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This week features the president’s attempt to steer the agenda with his State of the Union address, as well as a focus in Washington on unmanned aerial vehicles. That industry and members of Congress impatiently await a proposed rule on commercial drone use from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tuesday

At the National Press Club in Washington, the Small UAV Coalition holds a discussion and drone demonstration with industry representatives including Jesse Kallman, head of business development and regulatory affairs at the flight control software maker Airware and Lucas van Oostrum, co-founder and chief technology officer at Dutch drone manufacturer Aerialtronics.

Full story

December 31, 2014

Transportation Hurdles Ahead In 2015 For Congress

Christmas travelers walk past a man focused on his smartphone on Dec. 23, 2014  at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. during the hectic Christmas travel week.    (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Christmas travelers walk past a man focused on his smartphone on Dec. 23, 2014 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. during the hectic Christmas travel week. (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

In the New Year, Congress faces far-reaching policy and spending choices that will put members under both time and political pressure. Will there be enough time to accomplish all that needs to be done, or will decisions be postponed in favor of short-term expedients?

Here are some of the issues that are likely to be contentious in 2015

  • Unmanned aerial systems: Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee let Federal Aviation Administration officials know at a Dec. 10 hearing that they’re fed up with the agency’s slowness in devising a rule to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into the nation’s airspace.

Congress may take some of these decisions into its own hands if the FAA doesn’t act quickly enough. Some members see the UAV industry’s vast potential being stymied by the FAA’s inaction. Full story

December 24, 2014

A Look Back At Our Favorite Stories Of The Year

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, in July called a temporary FAA ban on flights to the Tel Aviv airport an economic boycott of Israal. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, in July called a temporary FAA ban on flights to the Tel Aviv airport an economic boycott of Israal. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Since we launched The Container in June, transportation news has been dominated by one big trend, the decline in oil and gasoline prices, by an Ebola outbreak that caused jitters in the aviation industry, and by a range of tough policy choices that Congress has faced.

Here’s a glance back at the some of our favorite stories since we launched…

  • Unless you’re the Nigerian or Russian energy minister, you’re probably happy about declining oil and gasoline prices. We took note when the price at the pump fell below in $3 a gallon.
  • The price of oil has been driven down in part by the boom in production in North Dakota’s Bakken shale. In July we got some perspective on shipment of Bakken crude from a major player in the industry, Global Partners CEO Eric Slifka, who made the case why rail shipment is better than pipelines.
  • On Capitol Hill, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. won a victory in his battle for less costly shipping of food aid to countries in need….
  • …while some House members still waxed nostalgic for the now-banned earmarks that they say would make it easier to enact a major transportation spending bill.
  • In the crowded skies, drones swooping over your neighborhood to survey real estate (but only if the Federal Aviation Administration gives its OK) was a provocative scenario we heard about
  •  Also aloft, one airline industry analyst complained that “we as customers still feel entitled to have access to that [luggage] bin space with our ticket. Why is that?”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has a knack for making news with pungent statements and in July, to our benefit, he weighed in on the FAA temporarily banning U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, calling it an economic boycott of Israel. The FAA acted after a rocket landed about a mile from the airport as fighting raged between Israel and Hamas.
  • The alarm about the Ebola virus peaked in October and we pondered how Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sounded as much like an economist as an epidemiologist. We also got the views of an airport administrator who is on the Ebola front lines: “to chase anonymous vomit. That’s what my job has become.”

Note: The Container will resume regular publication on Jan. 5.

December 12, 2014

Week In Review: Drones, Macadamias, Bankruptcies

An unmanned aerial vehicle arrives with a delivery at Deutsche Post headquarters in 2013 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

An unmanned aerial vehicle arrives with a delivery at Deutsche Post headquarters in 2013 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

With the unmanned aerial vehicle industry in the United States trying to emerge from its infancy, members of the House pressed Federal Aviation Administration official Peggy Gilligan at a hearing Wednesday on why the agency seems so tardy in issuing a rule on small UAVs.

If FAA approves drones for commercial use, they’d enable farmers to monitor their crops and real estate agents to scan neighborhoods and sell houses. Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation said the FAA’s slowness is stifling innovation.

One member of the panel, libertarian-minded Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., also worried about whether drones will encroach on your backyard and violate your property rights.

Full story

December 10, 2014

FAA’s Slow Pace On Drones Draws Fire

Rep. Thomas Massie, R- Ky., is concerned about FAA's slow pace in issuing drone rules.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R- Ky., is concerned about FAA’s slow pace in issuing drone rules. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Federal Aviation Administration is walking a fine line on drone regulation: trying to ensure that the unmanned vehicles don’t collide with airplanes, but also not trying to not stifle an infant industry. At the moment, members of Congress aren’t satisfied, if a hearing Wednesday before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation was any indication.

Full story

December 8, 2014

Drones, Planes, Oil By Trains, Spending Bill Remains

The safety of drones flying in airspace they share with planes, the safety of shipping oil by trains and little transportation nuggets tucked into the year-end spending bill are all on the agenda this week as lawmakers try to finish business for the 113th Congress.

Tuesday

With many legislatures beginning their sessions in January, state lawmakers will be in Washington to swap ideas and lobby members of Congress as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) holds its 2014 Forum this week.

A pressing issue facing state governments is the safety of rail shipment of crude oil and the congestion caused by North Dakota’s oil boom.

Full story

October 15, 2014

With Autonomous Cars, A World Without Red Lights?

A Google self-driving car maneuvers through Washington, D.C. in a 2012 test drive. (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages)

A Google self-driving car maneuvers through Washington, D.C. in a 2012 test drive. (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages)

While full deployment of autonomous vehicles is years, if not decades, in the future, free-market-oriented transportation experts are welcoming the vehicles’ potential to reduce government intervention in Americans’ travel decisions.

At a Cato Institute panel discussion Tuesday, Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the think tank, speculated that when nearly all American cars are automated, “I can see in the long run that things like stop signs and possibly even traffic lights, [and] speed limits, are going to be redundant.”

Full story

September 29, 2014

This Week’s Transportation Agenda: Air Traffic Control Conference & Foxx Road Trip

An Alaska Airlines jet passes the air traffic control tower at Los Angles International Airport (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

An Alaska Airlines jet passes the air traffic control tower at Los Angles International Airport (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This week, by strange coincidence, the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) holds its 59th annual conference at the National Harbor center near Washington just after the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control center in Aurora, Ill., was shut by a fire set by a technician working for a FAA contractor. Full story

September 26, 2014

The Container’s Friday Q & A: The National Association of Realtors’ Russell Riggs

For-Sale sign in front of a newly built house in Williston, N.D. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

For-Sale sign in front of a newly built house in Williston, N.D. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Hollywood studios won permission Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones when filming movies. Next, will it be real estate agents who get to use drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to help sell homes?

Full story

September 19, 2014

A Look Back: Foreign Air Carrier Competition, Drones & Defective Cars

We heard from both Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., (left) and Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., this week on aviation policy. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We heard from both Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., (left) and Sam Graves, R-Mo., this week on aviation policy. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This week on The Container, we spent lot of time reporting on aviation but with some focus on highways and the vehicles that travel on them.

We told you that U.S. airlines, while making good profits recently, still haven’t gotten back to pre-recession passenger levels.

Full story

The Container’s Friday Q & A: Rep. Sam Graves

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., left, with actor and pilot Harrison Ford at a forum of the House General Aviation Caucus. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., left, with actor and pilot Harrison Ford at a forum of the House General Aviation Caucus. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We spoke with Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., co-chairman of the House General Aviation Caucus and a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week after he told an aviation industry conference in Washington about some of his misgivings about drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

Full story

June 23, 2014

Startups Will Star as North Dakota Drone Summit Explores Commercialization

For drone enthusiasts, Grand Forks, N.D., will be the place to be this week, as the state hosts its eighth annual summit featuring Federal Aviation Administration officials as well as speakers from Northrop Grumman and an array of smaller companies in the fledgling unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry.

Danny Ellis, a spokesman for an Ann Arbor, Mich., start-up called SkySpecs, who’ll be speaking at the summit, said his firm is developing small aerial systems “with a focus on advanced intelligence for applications requiring immediate obstacle avoidance. Our first market and customer is in wind turbine blade inspection.”

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 4:25 p.m.
Aviation, Drones

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