The U.S. Department of the Interior has the responsibility to manage, protect and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, honors our nation’s responsibilities to tribal nations, and advocates for America’s island communities. As part of this mission, DOI utilizes a wide variety of aircraft, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). DOI missions can be hazardous to personnel, require persistent presence, and often need to be conducted without disturbing native species or visitors to our lands. Development of the UAS program within DOI will support in the accomplishment of our mission through better Science​, greater Safety​, and increased Savings​.

GOAL

DOI has employed aircraft in support of its missions for over 50 years. The goal of the DOI UAS program is to incorporate this new class of aircraft into DOI’s government-owned and commercially contracted aircraft fleet to support DOI missions for which UAS may be better suited than manned aircraft, achieving superior science, safety, savings.

Read more about the Department of the Interior Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Strategy (2015-2020)

Watch Office of Aviation Services Director, Mark Bathrick's presentation on PowerPoint Presentation Icon "How to Develop and Sustain a Successful Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program for Enhanced Science, Safety, and Savings - USGS Workshop" 

UAS technology possesses the ability to significantly expand our ability to obtain remote data critical to fulfilling many mission requirements safer, with less cost, and less environmental impact. Just a few such missions include:

  • Wildfires
  • Wildlife Monitoring
  • Hydrology
  • Geological surveys
  • Geophysical surveys
  • Volcanic activity

DOI Demonstrated UAS Mission Applications

As of 2015, UAS will be integrated into the National Airspace System.

What we are doing:

Safety: Capitalizing on opportunities to acquire capabilities which will enable DOI agencies to conduct their natural resource missions more effectively and with less risk.

Additionally, working with Bureau customers to organize and implement Operational Test and Evaluations of available UAS technology, which promotes safe, effective employment of systems in the field.

Support: Participating in UAS Working Groups to develop UAS Concept Plans and Capability Documents which detail the requirements to support UAS operations.

Provide pre-work support to Interior Business Center, Acquisition Directorate (AQD) visits to customer and contractor personnel to explain contract specifications and aircraft operations.

Oversight: Observe and monitor employment of UAS systems in the field to confirm compliance with Departmental policy and ensure established inventory controls are practiced. Coordinate with Bureau customers to develop and implement inventory controls for UA Systems and associated equipment.

Coordination: Coordinate UAS airspace requirements. Work with Bureau customers and FAA representatives to develop and implement procedures for requesting and scheduling airspace and land access for training and operational missions. Compile and submit requests for FAA Certificates of Authorization (COA).

Procurement: Develop, prepare, review, and evaluate technical contract specifications using ISO 9001 QMS processes for UAS and other aviation procurements. Coordinate technical specification efforts with other subject matter experts.