Educational UAS Protections Become Law

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 has become law. Although the bill originally passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate in early December, President Trump vetoed the bill on December 23, 2020. This resulted in a rare New Year’s Day vote by the Senate of 81-13 to override the presidential veto, following a vote of 322-87 by the House of Representatives on December 28. This is the first veto override by Congress in Trump’s presidency.

This new law is important to our community because it includes an educational provision that permits operations as part of an educational program that is chartered by a recognized community-based organization (CBO), such as AMA, or as an established JROTC program for education or research purposes. University-level UAS operations, such as University Model Aviation Student Clubs, will continue to be permitted within CBO programming or as a standalone UAS program. Additionally, a provision prohibiting federal agencies from using foreign-made UAS and UAS equipment was removed from the act.

AMA’s success in getting these legislative protections included are a great win for UAS STE(A)M curriculum because it allows for the continuation of educational UAS programming that has been in place for decades. AMA wants to offer a special thanks to the Armed Services Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as to the congressional members and staff who worked to finalize the Conference Committee Report.

This new provision, section 10002, can be viewed here.