The FAA proposal mandates new rules for small UAS conducting non-recreational operations.
Beyond the requirements for certification and safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s new proposals for allowing the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in U.S. airspace, the most stringent might be the line-of-sight rule and limit flights to daylight and line-of-sight operations. However, with limitations, the rules do permit UAS for newsgathering and video production.
Following much discussion, the FAA has proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations. News organizations and independent Video Journalists have been experimenting with the technology for about a year and have been eagerly awaiting these proposed rules because UAS “drones” can provide unique overheard viewing of breaking news stories.
For now professional production crews and broadcasters will still have to receive special permission from the FAA and take a written test to receive certification. Indeed, until the proposal becomes law, the current unmanned aircraft rules remain in place until the FAA implements a final new rule. The FAA encourages new operators to visit: http://www.knowbeforeyoufly.org. Pictorvision, a Van Nuys, Calif.-based provider of manned and unmanned aerial cinematography systems and services, said it has received FAA approval to fly two new heavy lift drones for aerial cinematography.
“We are very excited that we were given FAA approval for two additional aircraft that will allow us to fly heavier payloads and for longer flight times,” said Pictorvision president Tom Hallman.
Pictorvision’s two new drones are the PV-HL1, which will fly a RED Dragon for up to 15 minutes, and the PV-HL2, which will fly a RED Dragon for up to 20 minutes, double that of the standard drone. “Alternatively, we can trade off some of this extended flight time in order to fly heavier payloads,” said Hallman, “up to 20 pounds, allowing productions even greater choices in cameras and lenses.”
The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.
The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”
The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at www.regulations.gov. Separate from this proposal, the FAA intends to hold public meetings to discuss innovation and opportunities at the test sites and Center of Excellence. These meetings will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.
“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The proposed rule would require an operator to maintain visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses). The FAA is asking for comments on whether the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”
Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months. A small UAS operator would not need any further private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot license or medical rating).
The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:
Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. For example, an operator would have to perform a preflight inspection that includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with FAA-certificated components also could be subject to agency airworthiness directives.
The new rules would not apply to model aircraft. However, model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Generally speaking, the new rules would not apply to government aircraft operations, because we expect that these government operations will typically continue to actively operate under the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) process unless the operator opts to comply with and fly under the new small UAS regulations.
In addition to this proposal, earlier today, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections for the Federal Government’s use of UAS in the national airspace system which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAS use.
You can view the FAA’s Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later today at:
An overview of the Small UAS rule can be viewed at:
You can view the fact sheet at:
Press Conference audio is available here.
For more information on the FAA and UAS, visit: http://www.faa.gov/uas/
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