The Commercial Drone Alliance (CDA) is calling on the FAA and White House to speed the development of regulations allowing the commercial use of large unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs).

The nonprofit organization has written letters requesting “regulatory certainty” for large UAVs to FAA administrator Stephen Dickson, who was sworn in Aug. 12 as the agency’s 18th administrator, and Michael Kratsios, recently confirmed to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Expressing appreciation for the government’s efforts to introduce small unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 lb. into the national airspace system, the CDA said large UAVs similarly have “tremendous potential” to perform agricultural, public safety, delivery and other missions.

While both Congress and FAA have endorsed the future introduction of large UAVs into controlled airspace alongside manned aircraft, their “laudable goals are suffering due to a lack of communication with industry about what is necessary for regulatory approval for large [UAV],” the CDA said.

The FAA has already approved some commercial operations by large drones—by exemption and special airworthiness criteria in the case of Yamaha Motor Corp.’s 202-lb. maximum takeoff weight RMax and 244-lb. Fazer remotely piloted helicopters, which are used for agricultural spraying missions in California.

This month, Amazon said it is seeking to fly an 88-lb. package delivery drone under a provision of transportation law called Section 44807, “Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” The provision grants the secretary of transportation authority to determine whether a drone requires an airworthiness certificate to operate safely.

But the patchwork of regulatory approvals “does not provide either certainty or clarity,” argued the CDA, which counts Apple, Uber, Alphabet Wing, CNN and Ford among its members.

“If the FAA does not act expeditiously in these areas with respect to large UAS, the consequences will be dire and far-reaching for this fast-evolving industry,” the letter stated, signed by CDA executive director Lisa Ellman.

“First, the large [UAV] segment of the broader [UAV] industry in the United States will stagnate as companies in this area refrain from ongoing development and substantial investment here. Companies are ready and willing to invest significant sums of money to develop, test, certify and operate large [UAVs] in the United States,” Elman wrote. “Second, if the FAA does not move quickly to integrate large [UAVs], organizations and businesses seeking to develop and use large [UAVs] will move overseas to countries that offer more regulatory flexibility and are more receptive to such operations.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com