(Washington, DC) Today, Ranking Member Frank Lucas introduced a bill to improve research, development, and deployment of civilian unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and to accelerate the deployment the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry.

The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act is cosponsored by Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX), Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX), and Rep. Young Kim (R-CA).

The legislation is critical for developing the domestic UAS and AAM industries, which must be strong, safe, and secure to compete with China. The bill will provide for a coordinated federal initiative across research and mission agencies to support UAS research and development activities and ensure U.S. leadership in unmanned aircraft systems and advanced air mobility technologies.

“Unmanned aircraft systems are already starting to revolutionize agriculture, transportation, public safety, weather forecasting, and border security, just to name a few industries,” Lucas said. “The demand from businesses and government is only getting larger, and the drone services market is expected to grow to more than $63 billion by 2025, which is astonishing given that it was worth less than $5 billion in 2018. The market for Advanced Air Mobility is expected to increase to $115 billion by 2035, creating more than 280,000 new jobs. It is an economic imperative that we expand this industry in the United States so we can benefit from future drone market growth.”

Lucas also emphasized the need to address security risks from China’s near monopoly of the market for producing UAS. He cited DJI, a drone production firm that has tried to hide the fact that it is supported by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “A single Chinese firm that’s tied to the CCP has cornered 90 percent of the market for drones used for public safety and nearly 80 percent of drones used recreationally,” Lucas said. “That should concern anyone who cares about cybersecurity, privacy, and secure supply chains in the United States.”

Lucas went on to explain how the National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act will help grow our economy and counter foreign threats. “Unmanned aircraft systems and Advanced Air Mobility are too important to our economy and our national security to ignore,” Lucas said. “This bill will enable coordinated research and public-private partnerships that will give us the tools and knowledge we need to develop the domestic drone industry and expand our Advanced Air Mobility capabilities. I’m grateful to my colleagues for cosponsoring this bill, and I look forward to working with public and private stakeholders to get this across the finish line.”

The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act will:

  • Establish a National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative to coordinate UAS activities.
  • Authorize a Network of Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research Institutes to be supported by federal research agencies.
  • Promote the development of voluntary standards for UAS.
  • Mitigate risks to supply chains, public safety, and national security.
  • Support and expand the U.S. workforce to integrate UAS across all sectors of the economy.
  • Increase environmental observations and establish a data management strategy for scientific data.
  • Establish a counter-UAS center of excellence to support the work necessary to improve our abilities to respond to threats from adversaries using UAS.  
  • Support research and development activities at the National Institute of Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The full text can be found here.

For more information on the bill, a section-by-section summary of the legislation is available here, and a fact sheet is available here.