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49 U.S. Code § 44803 - Unmanned aircraft test ranges

(a) In General.—
The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall carry out and update, as appropriate, a program for the use of the test ranges to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.
(b) Program Requirements.—In carrying out the program under subsection (a), the Administrator shall—
designate airspace for safely testing the integration of unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system;
develop operational standards and air traffic requirements for unmanned flight operations at test ranges;
coordinate with, and leverage the resources of, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense;
address both civil and public unmanned aircraft systems;
ensure that the program is coordinated with relevant aspects of the Next Generation Air Transportation System;
provide for verification of the safety of unmanned aircraft systems and related navigation procedures as it relates to continued development of standards for integration into the national airspace system;
(7) engage test range operators, as necessary and within available resources, in projects for research, development, testing, and evaluation of unmanned aircraft systems to facilitate the Federal Aviation Administration’s development of standards for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system, which may include solutions for—
developing and enforcing geographic and altitude limitations;
providing 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;
beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations, nighttime operations, operations over people, operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems, and unmanned aircraft systems traffic management, or other critical research priorities; and
improving privacy protections through the use of advances in unmanned aircraft systems technology;
coordinate periodically with all test range operators to ensure test range operators know which data should be collected, what procedures should be followed, and what research would advance efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system;
streamline to the extent practicable the approval process for test ranges when processing unmanned aircraft certificates of waiver or authorization for operations at the test sites;
require each test range operator to protect proprietary technology, sensitive data, or sensitive research of any civil or private entity when using that test range without the need to obtain an experimental or special airworthiness certificate; [1]
allow test range operators to receive Federal funding, other than from the Federal Aviation Administration, including in-kind contributions, from test range participants in the furtherance of research, development, and testing objectives.
(c) Waivers.—
In carrying out this section the Administrator may waive the requirements of section 44711 of title 49, United States Code, including related regulations, to the extent consistent with aviation safety.
(d) Review of Operations by Test Range Operators.—The operator of each test range under subsection (a) shall—
(1) review the operations of unmanned aircraft systems conducted at the test range, including—
ongoing or completed research; and
data regarding operations by private and public operators; and
submit to the Administrator, in such form and manner as specified by the Administrator, the results of the review, including recommendations to further enable private research and development operations at the test ranges that contribute to the Federal Aviation Administration’s safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, on a quarterly basis until the program terminates.
(e) Testing.—
The Secretary of Transportation may authorize an operator of a test range described in subsection (a) to administer testing requirements established by the Administrator for unmanned aircraft systems operations.
(f) Collaborative Research and Development Agreements.—
The Administrator may use the other transaction authority under section 106(l)(6) and enter into collaborative research and development agreements, to direct research related to unmanned aircraft systems, including at any test range under subsection (a), and in coordination with the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
(g) Use of Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.—
The Administrator, in carrying out research necessary to implement the consensus safety standards requirements in section 44805 shall, to the maximum extent practicable, leverage the research and testing capacity and capabilities of the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and the test ranges.
(h) Termination.—
The program under this section shall terminate on September 30, 2023.