Sen. Mark Warner on Monday pressed Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to step up the agency’s role on overseeing U.S. drone policy.

The Virginia Democrat suggested that the Transportation Department should work with a U.S. airport to start a pilot program to identify best practices to detect and, if needed, disrupt a drone.

{mosads}”This could provide a blueprint for U.S. airports to establish protocols to protect airports against both innocuous recreational [unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS] mishaps, as well as more nefarious incursions,” the senator wrote in a letter to Foxx. “I encourage you to personally take the lead in our federal government’s efforts to create a framework for the safe and appropriate usage of UAS.”

While Warner added that he believes drones can bring benefits — including package delivery or aiding search-and-rescue efforts — but that a “series of high-profile incidents… have shown that it is also necessary to develop rapidly technologies that can ensure the safe operation of drones around sensitive areas.”

Warner added that any drone mitigation efforts should “ideally be passive” so they wouldn’t interfere with airport operations, or local GPS and wireless, while also being able to locate the drone and who is controlling it.

The senator’s letter follows an incident last month when a gyrocopter, a small manned aircraft, landed on the West Lawn of the  Capitol. A drone also crashed on the grounds of the White House in January.

The incidents come as the federal government is weighing loosening restrictions on commercial drones, and lawmakers debate how to protect restricted airspaces, including those around Washington, from small or unmanned aircraft.

Tags Anthony Foxx Mark Warner

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