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Federal Government Expands UAS PartnershipsThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and key government agencies involved in unmanned aircraft operations are expanding participation in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Executive Committee (EXCOM). The committee provides federal agencies with a forum to share information and reduce redundancies on UAS research and development, and resolve policy and procedural issues on safe UAS integration into the nation's airspace.

The UAS ExCom includes senior executives from the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the FAA. Membership is being expanded to include the Departments of Interior, Justice and Commerce that operate unmanned aircraft for uses such as firefighting and law enforcement, and are involved in technology challenges.

Speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festivals and Conferences in Austin this week, FAA Senior Advisor for UAS and UAS EXCOM Chairman Marke "Hoot" Gibson said that "the key to innovation is partnerships with the industry, academia and federal agencies."

“Although NASA operates unmanned aircraft as part of its flight test mission, NASA’s primary role in the UAS EXCOM is focused on our research and development efforts.  We look forward to the exchange of ideas with our UAS EXCOM partners” stated Robert Pierce, Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategy, Office of the Associate Administrator NASA Aeronautics Research.

The ExCom was established by the 2009 Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act to focus on DoD’s UAS access into the NAS. It is expected to meet quarterly.