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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


unmanned aircraft systems

October 9, 2019

The Integration Pilot Program is an initiative led by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency within the United Stated Department of Transportation. This program is designed to create the safe integration of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) into National Airspace. Utilizing the data collected throughout the course of the program, the FAA evaluates existing processes, regulation, and legality around the use of UAS. San Diego is one of 10 jurisdictions chosen to participate in the program, and only one of 2 urban environments.

Previously run by the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security, in July 2019, the program was turned over the City’s Economic Development Department, with EDC serving as the program manager.

IPP has since undergone a thorough evaluation, the scope of work has shifted from a public safety lens to an economic development focus. The program is now dependent on strong partnerships from UAS industry leaders ranging from technical experts to operators and software technology partners. The EDC recently planned and executed the first all-hands, in-person partnership meeting since the inception of the program. The meeting gave way for building a mission, vision, achievable objectives, and more collaborative approach.

Also in Q3 2019, there was a significant change to one of the program’s core focuses, shifting from International Commerce to a broader category of International Security and Environmental Protection, in order to expand its operations to waterways. This change allowed for two new partners to join the program—Planck Aerosystems (also part of the 2017 MetroConnect cohort and DIV Grand Prize PitchFest winner) and Anduril Industries. Additionally, the program was approved to add a partner specifically for its medical specimen delivery project.

Other program highlights from Q3 2019: San Diego IPP team was featured on a panel at the North Carolina Drone Summit to discuss the future of Urban Air Mobility. Additionally, the Chula Vista Police Department’s Drone as a First Responder project under the IPP has surpassed 900 successful response flights. The program held a successful public workshop to discuss the commercial UAS market with 40 attendees at the University Community Library and Councilwoman Barbara Bry was in attendance.