U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx met with about two dozen aviation leaders and state officials on Wednesday in a 30-minute session touching on a variety of issues.
Foxx and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, who organized the event, met with the leaders and officials at the National Institute of Aviation Research’s Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center in Park City.
Among those attending were Kansas transportation Secretary Mike King as well as executives from Spirit AeroSystems, Bombardier Learjet, Honeywell Aerospace, FlightSafety International, Textron Aviation and Airbus Americas Engineering.
One leader wanted to know about the status of Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, which would establish the funding and policy priorities for the agency that operates under the Transportation Department.
Foxx said he’s not optimistic that a long-term reauthorization of the FAA will happen by the Sept. 30 deadline – the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. The aviation industry supports long-term authorization, saying it brings certainty to the business.
“I think it’s fair to say that it will be a challenge to get it done before (then),” Foxx said. He said he thinks Congress will reauthorize the FAA, but for the short term.
“I think the secretary’s correct,” Moran said. “There will be an extension.”
Foxx also was asked whether there was anything the federal government could do to develop bilateral agreements with foreign aviation agencies to streamline the certification process for U.S. aircraft manufacturers.
“I think there’s room to do that,” Foxx said. But, he said, some countries may want reciprocity. And that could be a challenge if a country’s aircraft certification standards are not to the level of the FAA’s, he said.
King asked Foxx about progress on the regulation of unmanned aircraft. Foxx cited the FAA’s proposed rule for small unmanned aerial systems and the exemption program for commercial use of drones.
“We’re trying to move that rule (to a final rule) as quickly as possible,” Foxx said. “I think we’re on a good path as far as commercial use.”
But, he added, private operations of drones is what concerns him the most. He discussed the rise of incidents of privately operated drones interfering with aircraft and the need to look at ways to enforce safe operation of drones by individuals.
“This is not where we want to be,” Foxx said.
Officials need to “create a better enforcement mechanism around this,” Foxx said. One way to do that, he said, might be requiring a consumer to complete a registration at the time of a drone purchase.