In a letter to the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., called for the expansion of drone use to facilitate contact-free delivery of medical supplies and other needed equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their letter addressed to DoT Secretary Elaine Chao and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, the senators wrote, “As a result of the need for social distancing and self-quarantining to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our constituents cannot access health care essentials, such as medicines, medical devices, and personal protective equipment.” They continued, “We hope you agree that first responders, public health agencies, and retailers need to have the ability to utilize emerging technology solutions that can deliver these necessities in a timely and safe manner, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones.”
Specifically, the letter called for the DoT and FAA to waive existing regulatory limits placed on UAS devices and operators.
“In light of the ongoing battle against COVID-19, we call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to enable an expedited pathway for commercial and public entities to stand up BVLOS drone package delivery operations for medical, healthcare, and other critical public needs,” the senators wrote. “There is a strong case for temporarily waiving these regulatory limitations on UAS operations that will expand our communities’ access to vital resources, provided that delivery by UAS can be done in a safe and efficient manner.”
Additionally, Cortez Masto and Rosen said, “if there are resources or other legislative actions that are required to support these new UAS applications, please share those needs with Congress expeditiously.”