Program

The program for the FAA UAS Symposium – Remotely Piloted Edition features a variety of sessions that will bring you direct insights from FAA leadership, collaborative discussions on the state of enabling technologies and future regulations, and instructive how-to sessions for operators – all focused on safely advancing UAS integration into the National Airspace System!

The 2021 event program has been developed to support several key themes and organized into tracks to streamline engagement. The fulle Episode III agenda and Episode IV session topics are provided below.

Episode IV Program Episode III Program Register Now

The schedule for the Symposium is set to Eastern Daylight Time. Session topics, timing, and speakers are subject to change.

Episode IV | September 14–15

The sessions below are slated for Episode IV of the FAA UAS Symposium. Speakers and schedule are coming soon!

Safety First, Safety Always: Remote ID and Safety Risk Management

This session provides an overview of the UAS Remote ID final rule, the FAA’s Safety Risk Management effort behind the rule – including the safety risk considerations that went into it – and what the FAA is doing now to monitor risk associated with the remote ID operations.

Ready, Set, Go! What You Need to Know Before Entering Controlled Airspace

As UAS operations increase in number and scope, improving efficient access to airspace is a priority for the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. Join the panelists as they discuss the future of UAS operations in controlled airspace and the FAA’s strategy to improve airspace access requests.

Exploring UTM: Around the World in 55 Minutes

This 55-minute international panel will highlight UTM system progress around the world and include a discussion on the factors that impact UTM development.

Tactical BVLOS: Seeing Around the Corner Saves Lives

Most UAS operations can be separated into either Visual Line of Sight or Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS). In this panel, you will learn about Tactical BVLOS, a subset of BVLOS used by law enforcement and first responders that has helped enable operations around the visual line of sight restrictions. Learn from a panel of experts about this enabling tool that helps to safeguard human life during extreme emergencies.

Flight Data Management: It’s Not Just for Commercial Aircraft Anymore

Typically, Fight Data Monitoring (FDM) uses data to build information that can be useful for many purposes, from improving your flying skills to managing your maintenance practices. This session explores how UAS FDM could be used in support of the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) and FAA stakeholders.

UTM Integration: Where We Are & Where We’re Headed

The development and maturation of a safe UAS Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystem requires research and collaboration. During this panel, experts will share key research initiatives that explore low-altitude traffic management concepts, highlighting how the results are expected to enable UTM operations and meet projected demand.

One Step BEYOND

The BEYOND program was launched in October 2020 to tackle some of the remaining challenges of UAS integration through partnerships with eight state, local, and tribal lead participants. With an emphasis on enabling repeatable, scalable, and economically viable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, BEYOND focuses on operating under established rules rather than waivers, streamlining the approval processes for UAS integration, collecting and addressing community feedback, and understanding the societal and economic impacts and benefits associated with UAS operations. Join key program players as they discuss the challenges, successes, and opportunities for the program.

Raiders of the BVLOS ARC

Industry leadership from the UAS BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee will host a discussion on the key challenges and pivotal topics that have emerged during their discussions.

Safety and Security: Working Together to Keep Our Skies Safe

Join the discussion about the FAA’s efforts to expand public education, outreach, and achievements in UAS Security, each of which plays a key role in protecting the National Airspace System. This panel will help you understand the FAA’s role to ensure that UAS operations are safe and secure.

The Collision Avoidance Session: You Don't Want to Miss It

Collision avoidance remains one of the biggest challenges to safe UAS integration and, in particular, to beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. Potential solutions may combine technology, procedures, and policy and will require research to explore and validate. This panel will address these challenges and highlight research initiatives directed at unravelling the BVLOS problem set.

Been There, Drone That: What’s NEW for Operational Approvals

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) changed the way the FAA approves small UAS airspace authorization requests. Since the initial launch of LAANC in 2017, the FAA has strived to improve LAANC capabilities as well as streamline other operational approvals. This panel will highlight some of these enhancements in process as well as future strategy for FAA UAS improvements.

Superheroes Get Their Props: Drones and Humanitarian Operations

Across the globe, new uses for drones are being imagined which overcome traditional time and distance barriers and allow for more effective responses to natural disasters. Drones are also being used in ways to anticipate certain natural disasters, giving government agencies the tools to minimize the impact on populations. This panel will examine how different countries look at drones for humanitarian operations before and after disasters occur.

The Best of the Best: Community Engagement Practices from Around the Globe

We know the public has UAS-related concerns over privacy, security, noise, and other issues. The challenge is for governments and industry to understand the true nature of those concerns, and to determine to what level they need to be mitigated. This panel will reveal how some countries and organizations have engaged with their public, explain what they’ve learned, and indicate possible next steps.

Plan for Success: Creating ConOps and Applications for BVLOS Waivers

As we evolve toward the normalization of UAS operations, Part 107 waivers remain a large part of the workload. One reason is that proponents often do not understand what the FAA requires. The session will acquaint participants with the process of creating a successful CONOPS and waiver request. Panel speakers will include members of the Support Center and Complex Waiver team.

We Like LAANC a Lot (Sorry, Not Sorry) – UAS Service Suppliers and Their Lessons Learned

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) has continued to evolve since its inception, achieving exemplary collaboration between the FAA and drone industry stakeholders. Join us as experts from the FAA and the LAANC UAS Service Supplier community discuss how these partnerships evolved, lessons learned, and what they see coming on the horizon.

The Greener Future of Aviation: Environmental Review and Noise Certification

This session will address environmental requirements and considerations related to UAS, including aircraft noise certification requirements and processes, as well as the requirements for environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Panelists will also explore environmental policy considerations for UAS beyond existing noise certification and environmental review requirements, and the path forward on these issues.

Episode III | On-Demand

Coffee Talk: Good to the Last Prop

Start your day with some tips and tricks for making the most of the Symposium program and virtual event platform!

Speakers:

  • Erik Amend, Manager, Executive Office, AUS-10, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS Integration Office
  • Keely Griffith, Director of Industry Education, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Welcome to the Big Show: Keynote with Jay Merkle and Brian Wynne

Brian and Jay welcome you to the next installment of the FAA UAS Symposium. Join in for a sneak peak of all the good things to look forward to during Episode III.

Speakers:

  • Jay Merkle, Executive Director, Office of UAS Integration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Small Props, Big Ops: Opportunities in the European Sky

Development of Europe’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system, or U-Space, is progressing steadily. In this panel, speakers will address safety standards and the obligations of drone manufacturers and operators, as well as privacy, environmental, and security concerns in the U-Space environment. The panelists will also provide an update on U-Space development and how it is shaping European member state UAS integration.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Minh Favila, FAA Senior Representative to the European Union, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Francine Zimmermann, Manager, Innovation and Digitalization, Head of Policy and Regulation, Federal Office of Civil Aviation (Swiss FOCA)
  • Joachim Lücking, Head of Unit Aviation Safety, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE)
  • Marina Estal Muñoz , Head of Airspace Policy, Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC)

Above All Else: Safety and Operations Over People

After much anticipation, the final rule on operations over people allows routine operations over people under certain circumstances. In this briefing, we’ll explain how remote pilots can comply with the requirements and we’ll provide valuable insights to get the most out of operating your drone over people while managing risk.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Thea Dickerman, Rulemaking Analyst and Acting Special Assistant, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Dave Krause, Co-Owner, Influential Drones
  • Mike Wilson, Aviation Safety Inspector, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Educate Today, Fly Tomorrow: UAS-Collegiate Training Initiative

Launched in April 2020, the UAS-Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) has grown to over 70 schools in nearly 40 states. Discover how this program is helping to build the UAS workforce of the future and what members of the initiative have in store.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Diana Robinson, Project Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Wing Cheung, Professor, Palomar College
  • Zack Nicklin, Co-Principal Investigator and Director of UAS, National Center for Autonomous Technologies

An Update from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson shares his vision for the next phase of drone integration into the NAS. He sets the scene for operations over people, beyond visual line of sight, and exciting developments for the UAS industry, the recreational flyer community, and more.

Speakers:

  • Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Welcome to the Dark Side: Night UAS Operations

The final rule on UAS operations over people is the next incremental step towards further integration of UAS in the national airspace system. This rule permits routine operations at night under certain circumstances without the need to receive individual part 107 waivers from the FAA. In this session, we’ll discuss the regulatory requirements for flying at night, the key differences between daylight and nighttime operations, and more information on night ops that remote pilots need to know.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Nicole Hartman, Senior Advisor, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Greg Reverdiau, Co-Founder and Lead Instructor, Pilot Institute
  • Victoria Gallagher, Project Manager, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Recreational Operations in a Remote ID World

During this panel discussion, we’ll learn how the final rule on remote identification affects the largest segment of the UAS community—recreational flyers. Are there any drones that won’t be required to have remote ID capability? Are there locations where recreational flyers can enjoy flying their drones without remote ID? Join us for answers to these questions and many more about recreational drone operations and remote ID.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Langston Majette, UAS Integration Team Manager, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Ann Cihon, Remote ID Program Manager, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Ben Walsh, Aerospace Engineer, Flight Standards Service, Flight Technologies and Procedures, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Four Prop Harmony: Remote ID Solutions across the Globe

Organizations, with an eye on the evolving ecosystem supporting UAS operations and the impact of Remote ID, are testing solutions to power drone operations across the globe. Take a deep dive into the lessons learned from those developing and testing Remote ID technology. Key issues such as scalability, interoperability, and complexity will be discussed by industry leaders eager to develop a sustainable and synchronized system.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Emanuel "Manny" Cruz, AUS - 440 Branch Manager, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Benoit Curdy, Digital Transformation Architect, Innovation and Digitalization Unit, Federal Office of Civil Aviation (Swiss FOCA)
  • Amit Ganjoo, Founder & CEO, ANRA Technologies
  • Chris Kucera, Head of Strategic Partnerships, OneSky
  • Matthew Satterly, Policy and Government Relations, Wing
  • Josh Ziering, Founder & CTO, Aloft Technologies

Firefighting and Drones: Saving Lives and Protecting Firefighters

This panel will discuss the use of UAS in the fire service, including its inception, growth, and future use cases. The panel will also provide specific examples where UAS have had positive impacts in putting down fires, saving lives, and protecting firefighters.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Charles Werner, Director, DroneResponders
  • Angelica Chomicki, Firefighter, Fire Department of New York
  • Katie Thielmeyer, Risk Reduction Officer/UAS Program Manager, Woodlawn Fire Department
  • Richard Fields, Assistant Chief- LAFD UAS Program Manager, Los Angeles Fire Department

Outreach Insights: Connect, Inform, Inspire

This presentation from the co-chair of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), A FAASTeam DronePro, and the CEO of Women Who Drone discusses their outreach strategies, including how they identify their target audience, develop the subjects and topics of their outreach, and more. What are best practices and how can working together take us beyond?

Speakers:

  • Elena Buenrostro, Founder & CEO, Women Who Drone
  • Peter F. Dumont, President & CEO, Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)
  • Vic Moss, Vice President/COO of Drone Service Providers Alliance

Love at First Flight: Recreational Flyers and the Future of Aviation

We know it: as a recreational flyer, you’re as passionate about safety as you are about flying. That’s why you need to keep up with what’s going on for recreational flyers. New rules, new registration requirements, and The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) are just some of the latest developments affecting recreational UAS pilots. The President of the First Person View (FPV) Freedom Coalition will be joined by FAA and industry leaders for a lively discussion on the hottest recreational UAS topics.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Dave Messina, Founder & CEO, FPV Freedom Coalition
  • Andy Graber, General Manager, GetFPV
  • Katie Gilmore, UAS Program Manager, Office of Aeronautics, Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Rob Lowe, Southwest Regional Administrator , Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

GenerationUAS: Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Challenges

How do we make sure that industry and government know where to look to find the next generation of UAS workers? Successful high school programs, camps, and internships are just some of the ways to build and grow a UAS workforce. Panelists from government, industry, and academia will discuss their thoughts on how to prepare today to ensure the workforce of tomorrow.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Alina George, Program Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Lindsey Dreiling, Executive Director of Aviation Strategy, Kansas State University
  • Michael Ragland, Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Break Studios
  • Mignonne Hollis, Executive Director, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation

Asia – Pacific Region UAS Integration

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region continue to make impressive progress toward integrating UAS into their respective airspaces. During this on-demand session, you’ll hear the panelists’ perspectives on innovation, research and development, data collection, standards, regulatory developments, community engagement, private-public partnerships (PPP) and more. The panelists will also share their experiences in managing national UAS integration efforts, efforts for regional alignment, and international harmonization.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Lirio Liu, Executive Director, Office of International Affairs, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • June Park, Deputy Director, Drone Transport Division, South Korea Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT)
  • Kah Han Tan, Senior Director, Unmanned Systems Group, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
  • Luke Gumley, Branch Manager, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Australia Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Post-Flight Debrief with Jay and Brian

Join Jay and Brian as they review the highlights of Day 1.

Speakers:

  • Jay Merkle, Executive Director, Office of UAS Integration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Winning with Safety, Diversity, and Drones in Aviation

Join the CEO of Woman and Drones, the Executive Vice President of National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the CEO of airspacelink as they discuss how diverse teams and inclusivity are pathways to enhance safety and success for individuals and businesses.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Sharon Rossmark, Chief Executive Officer, Women and Drones
  • Michael Healander, President & CEO, Airspace Link
  • Patricia Gilbert, Executive Vice President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association

An Africa UAS Integration Update

Exciting breakthroughs in UAS development – especially in humanitarian and ecological cases – are taking place in certain African countries and regions. Today, regional and international organizations are offering ways to help bring industry and regulators together to advance UAS integration collaborative efforts to even more countries and regions. Panelists will share how they have worked together to prioritize regulatory framework development, develop innovative UAS integration efforts unique to the region, and meet challenges and opportunities.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Catherine Lumonya, Senior Licensing Officer, East African Community - Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA)
  • Raynold S. K. Atadja, Senior Aviation Safety Inspector (Airworthiness), Kenya Civil Aviation Authority
  • Simon Segwabe, Executive: Aviation Safety Operations, South African Civil Aviation Authority
  • Victor Goyea, General Manager, Aircraft Certification and Continued Airworthiness, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)

When Disaster Strikes: Saving Lives with Drones

This session will discuss the effective use of UAS in the national airspace system (NAS) and work on the preparation for disaster preparedness and response using UAS in the NAS with the “Coordination Across First Responders” FAA research program. This presentation will highlight the program lessons learned to date and exciting new policies for use of UAS in future disaster response. The panelists will focus on pre-planning and coordination efforts by Texas Public Safety that led to successful use of UAS in recent disaster responses.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Coitt Kessler, Program Manager, Austin Fire Department
  • Adam Johnson, sUAS Program Manager, Austin-Travis Country EMS
  • Jason Day, UAS Program Manager, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Matt Bridgefarmer, UAS Program Supervisor, Texas Parks & Wildlife

Perspective from Capitol Hill

UAS integration and innovation is moving at a pace that is quite different from traditional aviation. House Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (WA-02) shares his perspective and outlook. After, join Brian and Jay as they reflect on Representative Larsen’s comments and other UAS policy.

Speakers:

  • Representative Rick Larsen, Chair, Aviation Subcommittee, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Jay Merkle, Executive Director, Office of UAS Integration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

STEM: Helping Aviation Skills Take Root

Engaging the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists is an investment in our industry’s future. Drones offer an approachable, hands-on, and fun way to encourage young people to explore future careers in aviation. There are many ways to actively engage students in UAS-related STEM education and this panel will highlight a diversity of outreach approaches across different age groups for students from a variety of backgrounds.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Richard Lin, NextGen Portfolio Management & Technology Development, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Cathy Cahill, Director, Alaska Center for UAS Integration, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Jerry Hendrix, Director of UAS Research Programs, University of Alabama Huntsville

In Safety We TRUST: The Recreational UAS Safety Test

The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST): What is it? Why is it needed? Who needs to take it? Our panelists will answer these questions and many more during this panel about a new requirement for recreational UAS pilots.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Deandra Brooks, Senior Communications Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Al Brunner, Aviation Safety Inspector, UAS Integration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Kevin Morris, Digital Communications Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

STEM + UAS: Your Next COO Could Still Be in High School

No matter what your company does, it is likely that you’re more dependent on technology than ever. In this thought-provoking panel, we’ll hear from leaders of educational institutions on how they’re preparing students to meet the business challenges of today and tomorrow.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Sabrina Saunders-Hodge, Director, Research, Engineering & Analysis Division, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Eno Umoh, Co-Founder, Global Air Media (GAM) and the Global Air Drone Academy (GADA)
  • Henry Cathey, Aerospace Division Director, New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory
  • M. Javed Khan, Professor and Head, Aerospace Science Engineering Department, Tuskegee University

Public Safety and the FAA: Resources to Enable Public Safety UAS Operations

This panel will discuss resources that public safety can use to enable their public safety operations as well as interfacing with the FAA personal who provide public safety support.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Mike O'Shea, Program Manager/Public Safety Liaison, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Kerry Fleming, Airspace Security Specialist, System Operations Support Center, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Scott Harris, Special Agent, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

BVLOS Global Perspectives: How Do We Get There From Here?

A Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) capability for drones must be scalable, repeatable and commercially viable. Effective public-private partnerships can bring the necessary expertise and resources together in the right environment to achieve these requirements. This panel brings together innovative regulators to share their experiences in collaboration, and to help us understand the technical and other barriers still to be overcome in developing this critical capability.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Andrew Sage, Director, Safety Transformation, NATS (United Kingdom National Air Traffic Service Provider)
  • Andrew Mutabaruka, Head of Quality and State Safety Programs, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority
  • Jorge Alexandre de Almeida Regis, Air Traffic Controller, Head of Military Operations Subdivision, Brazil Department of Airspace Control (DECEA)

How Drones Can Help Tribal Nations

Are there applications for UAS technology that are particularly useful for tribal nations? How can UAS best serve native peoples?

Speakers:

  • Evans Bennallie, Systems & Programming Manager, Navajo Department of Transportation
  • James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • John "JC" Coffey, Executive Director, Unmanned Systems, Cherokee Nation Technologies

The Same but Completely Different: How Regional Administrators Tackle Challenges

If it’s about aviation, FAA regional administrators see it, manage it, and work to make it even better and safer. Join us as regional administrators around the country have a frank discussion on the challenges and opportunities they see for drone applications in their regions.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Rebecca Cointin, Deputy Executive Director for National Engagement and Regional Administration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • David Suomi, Northwest Mountain Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Raquel Girvin, Western Pacific Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Rob Lowe, Southwest Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Anyone from Anywhere: An Inclusive Technology

With drone operations increasing, the need for safe and reliable operators is a necessity. Drone operations also lend themselves to an inclusive flight environment, creating jobs and opportunities for individuals who may not be able to perform certain procedures with traditional tools. This session will feature academics and industry working together to prepare a diverse group of pilots for future operations.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: Ashley Moore, Senior Communications Specialist, AUS - 10 , Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Robert Corbett, Inclusive Flight Advocate
  • Shawn He, Mechanical Design Engineer, Animal Dynamics
  • Erin Muston-Firsch, Occupational Therapist / Assistive Technology Specialist, Craig Hospital
  • Megan Ryan, VP of Event Production, Drone Racing League

Post-Flight Debrief with Jay and Brian

Join Jay and Brian as they review the highlights of Day 2 and give their thoughts on what to expect between now and Episode IV.

Speakers:

  • Jay Merkle, Executive Director, Office of UAS Integration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Commercial Drone Operations

Recently, Virginia Tech conducted a survey with the residents of Christiansburg, VA to understand the sentiment around commercial drone delivery in the area. Presented by Wing, this thought leadership interview will expand on this topic to communicate the details and results of the community survey.

Speakers:

  • Speaker: Lee Vinsel, Virginia Tech

Realizing UTM: It’s All About the Data

The reality is drones are "growing up" in a world that was not built for them. Existing infrastructure like radar, ADS-B feeds, regulation was never intended to be used for thousands of low altitude unmanned aircraft, let alone a single BVLOS operation. And while technology and regulatory advancements are moving in the right direction, the truth is many operators are still flying blind, figuratively speaking. We know rebuilding the system entirely is unrealistic, so what can we do?

In this thought leadership presentation, OneSky Co-Founder, Chris Kucera, will share his insights on how to leverage existing infrastructure and embrace the data. More specifically, he will highlight how the UTM system is critical to data sharing, and how data availability and data accuracy should be addressed before we can enable advanced drone operations.

Speakers:

  • Speaker: Chris Kucera, OneSky