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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 12, 2017.
FAA Leadership in Groundbreaking High-Tech Research and Development Act or the FLIGHT R&D Act
This bill reauthorizes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) research and development (R&D) programs for FY2018-FY2023.
No funds are authorized to be appropriated for a fiscal year for: (1) Environmental Sustainability Research and Development programs unless the full amount authorized for that fiscal year is appropriated for Safety Research and Development programs, Economic Competitiveness Research and Development programs, and Mission Support programs; or (2) the FAA's Office of the Administrator unless the Secretary of Transportation has submitted the National Aviation Research Plan to Congress no later than the submission of the President's budget request for that fiscal year.
The FAA shall appoint an Associate Administrator for Research and Development.
The FAA shall develop a plan in the event of the transition of FAA R&D activities to a non-federal entity.
The bill amends the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to revise requirements with respect to the FAA's five-year roadmap for the introduction of civil unmanned aircraft systems (drones) into the national airspace system. The roadmap shall include, at a minimum, a description of how the FAA plans to use R&D to integrate drones into the system. No funds are authorized to be appropriated for the Office of the Administrator for a fiscal year unless the Secretary has submitted the unmanned aircraft systems roadmap to Congress on an annual basis. The FAA shall coordinate with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to research the collision of drones with manned aircraft. The bill prohibits the FAA, with a specified exception, from promulgating regulations regarding the operation of drones for R&D purposes.
The FAA shall establish R&D programs:
to improve the cybersecurity of civil aircraft and the system, on civilian air traffic surveillance over oceans and other remote locations, in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft with remote piloting and computer piloting, and regarding the use of the electromagnetic spectrum in the civil aviation domain. The FAA shall submit to Congress a research plan for certification and implementation of new technologies (including Next Generation) into the system.