Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) have applauded the House passage of the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, a bill within the jurisdiction of the committee.
Drones ranging in size from small handheld systems to those weighing more than 50,000 pounds are becoming ever more common in U.S. skies. The Federal Aviation Administration projects that the recreational drone fleet will grow to nearly 1.5 million units by 2024 and the commercial fleet will increase to more than 800,000 units by that same year. Simultaneously, drones are increasingly being used today by state departments of transportation, local municipalities, and other stakeholders to enhance the traditional inspection methods of critical infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, and dams.
The Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act would invest $200 million in a drone infrastructure inspection grant program and a drone education and workforce training grant program at the U.S. Department of Transportation to support safer and more efficient inspection, maintenance, and repair of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and better equip the U.S. workforce to use drone technology.
“I applaud the House for passing the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act today, which will support the use of small drones to help state and local governments better inspect and repair critical infrastructure,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said on September 13. “As we make historic investments in our transportation systems and infrastructure, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act will help states, localities, and other stakeholders better inspect and maintain critical assets such as bridges and roads while training the workforce necessary to do so safely and effectively. I applaud Rep. Greg Stanton, whose work on this piece of legislation was instrumental. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill without delay.”
“There’s a nationwide backlog for critical infrastructure inspections—and it’s because traditional methods are often time consuming and expensive, and can even be dangerous. Using a drone to inspect infrastructure in hard-to-reach places—such as underneath bridges—can speed up the inspection process, is safer for workers, and can help save states and local transit agencies money,” Rep. Stanton said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and look forward to passing this common-sense, bipartisan bill through the Senate.”