FAA: More Money for Drones

Are you trying to develop cutting edge technology for unmanned aircraft?  Did you miss out on the FAA’s Pathfinder Program?  Was your proposal for the FAA’s Public/Private Partnership initiative passed over?  Then today may be your lucky day.

The FAA has just announced a new partnership program to push forward UAS technology, and this time, the FAA has money of its own to spread around.  The FAA is looking for commercial ventures that can work with the UAS test sites to:

  • Develop and enforce geographic and altitude limitations (Geo-fencing);
  • Provide for alerts by the manufacturer of an unmanned aircraft system regarding any hazards or limitations on flight, including prohibition on flight as necessary;
  • Sense and avoid capabilities (DAA);
  • Beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations (BVLOS);
  • Night time operations;
  • Operations over people;
  • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems;
  • Unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM);
  • Other critical research priorities; and
  • Improve privacy protections through the use of advances in unmanned aircraft systems technology.

This new program, which was actually mandated by Congress in the FAA Reauthorization Act, came with a $6 million appropriation to move the project forward.  According to the FAA, if your company qualifies, it will match the funds put forward by the applicant for the project.  The FAA indicates in its Call for Whitepapers that it intends to award “seven or more” contracts under the program, and expects each award to range between “$425,000.00 to $850,000.00,” although it reserves the right to award more for a contract under the right circumstances.

The FAA is operating on a relatively short timeline for this project:

The application process has two steps. Step 1 is a white paper package which is due by June 28, 2019. If that package is accepted, a full proposal must be submitted by July 31, 2019. The FAA expects to award contracts by September 30, 2019.

In addition, if you have any technical questions about the program, they must be submitted in writing by June 7, 2019 to the address set out in the Call for Whitepapers.  So, if you are interested, dust off your old proposals and give them a second look, the clock is ticking.

NOTE: If you would like additional details about what the FAA is looking for under each of the technical topics, more information can be found here.

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