Integration Pilot Program

In 2017, the FAA selected the City of San Diego as one of ten state, local, and tribal governments to participate in the Integration Pilot Program.

The Integration Pilot Program (IPP) was developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration to safely and fully integrate UAS – or drone – technology into the National Airspace System (NAS).

About the Integration Pilot Program

The San Diego IPP seeks to give IPP Partners access to tools, technologies, and policymakers that can enable our community to build a successful Commercial UAS Center of Excellence in San Diego. Through the program, EDC and the City have partnered to create UAS for public good.

Currently, because of federal safety regulations, it is challenging to test UAS for commercial use in the U.S. Through the IPP program, approved San Diego IPP Partners can apply for a waiver to safely test their innovations.

San Diego Regional EDC acts as the Program Manager for IPP and is responsible for directly liaising with the FAA and helping companies comply with regulations to test UAS throughout regional airspace.

The FAA will leverage the findings from San Diego and other UAS Integration Pilot Program sites to develop clear guidelines for integrating drones into the national airspace.

Why San Diego?

According to the FAA Aerospace Forecast and Drone Analytics, the global commercial and consumer drone market is expected to reach nearly $43 billion by 2024. With the enormous potential of this industry and a history of leveraging life-changing technologies for good, San Diego has an opportunity to be at the forefront of this industry – and reap some of the enormous economic and job benefits from it.

HISTORY. San Diego is an ideal location for drone technology.  Home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world, the region has a long history of developing and commercializing military technology for commercial use.

INNOVATION. San Diego is already a leader in smart city technology and was one of the first cities to deploy a region-wide platform. From sequencing the human genome to pioneering the use of 5G technology, San Diego is a forward-thinking region that is embracing and developing technologies that are changing the world…for the better.

GEOGRAPHY. The San Diego region is roughly the size of Connecticut, and offers some of the most diverse terrains in the country, from coastal wetlands to dense urban environments, and desserts. The diverse regional geography creates a realistic test case crucial for understanding how UAS technology can safely integrate into various terrains across the country.

San Diego’s climate is ideal for UAS testing and flight. While wind is a large factor in UAS flight, the predictable weather enables year round flight conditions.

Mission Profiles

The Integration Pilot Program is focusing on testing UAS across four specific use cases.  These use cases are referred to as mission profiles.



San Diego will use various technologies for unmanned traffic management to determine the feasibility of conducting cross-border commerce, and general operations via UAS.


San Diego’s prime location to the border with Tijuana allows cross border transactions. Through a number of use cases, including vehicle tag inspection, or commercial good carrying, we believe that UAS can facilitate shorter wait-times at the border in the future.


UAS are being used as a “first responder” by providing real time video feeds in response to priority emergency calls. First responders are then provided the situational awareness needed determine response requirements, and request additional resources if necessary, resulting in increased efficiency, freeing up resources, and long-term cost savings.


By nature of their work, police departments enter into precarious situations. Drones can provide real-time data enabling critical situational awareness that enable first responders the information necessary to react appropriately to the situation presented. Law enforcement can utitlize UAS in situations that may not be appropriate for manned arieal systems, which may be costly to operate compared to a UAS.


San Diego is testing the feasibility of transporting food and beverages, utilizing technology to advance unmanned traffic management.


As food delivery services widen in popularity, the service requires extensive labor and also may cause adverse environmental impacts (e.g., congested streets). Using drones for food delivery increase efficiency and may decrease cost, leading to higher adoption rates.


San Diego is testing the feasibility of transporting specimens to a lab in order to support healthcare providers’ ability to quickly diagnose and treat patients.


When transporting medical specimens, efficient transportation can be the difference between life and death. By leveraging drone technology, medical specimen transport can provide expedited, cost-saving delivery of life-saving, time-sensitive treatments.

Our Partners

The following companies work with EDC on IPP:

AUVSI- Lindbergh Chapter
Booz Allen Hamilton
Chula Vista Police Department

Palomar College
Planck Aerosystems
Port of San Diego
Scripps Institute of Oceanography
UC San Diego
UPS Flight Forward

Want to get more involved with IPP?

Katelyn McCauley
Katelyn McCauley

Senior Manager, Economic Development