Recently the Federal Aviation Administration announced they will be adopting some new rules for commercial drones and UAV’s. This is supposed to occur in June 2016 sometime and will be welcomed by those of us who have been waiting for the current rules to be amended. The current rules, to sum them up, say that you must first register your drone with the FAA, then apply for and be granted a 333 exemption from the FAA, that the PIC (pilot in control) have at least a sport pilots license, and other requirements for the drone itself. One of the biggest problems with the current requirements is that they severely restrict who can and cannot use their drone to make money while it gives total freedom to hobbyists who want to do exactly the same thing commercial users want to do. This is a lopsided situation to be sure. My take on this is that the “professional” user would be more responsible and safety conscious than the hobbyist. Now the Federal Aviation Administration has come forth with some new rules that were created with the joint cooperation of drone manufacturers, the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics), and the FAA. These new rules relax the requirements and make a whole lot more sense. They do require some of the same things as before but the biggest change is a commercial drone operator is no longer required to have the 333 exemption nor is he required to have a pilots license. This is a good thing because there was a backlog of several months to a year to obtain the 333 exemption and the paperwork was so convoluted it required the use of an attorney to obtain the exemption. Fortunately this will no longer be the case. If you are interested, I have included below the new, soon to be adopted, FAA requirements to fly your drone for commercial purposes. These new rules should make it safer and give the public the security it should have, too.
Summary of Major Provisions of Proposed Part 107
The following provisions are being proposed in the FAA’s Small UAS NPRM.
- Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
- Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.
- At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
- Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation.
- Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time).
- Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
- May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
- First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
- Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
- Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
- Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
- No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace.
- Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
- Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.
- No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
- No careless or reckless operations.
- Requires preflight inspection by the operator.
- A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
- Proposes a microUAS option that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, provided the operator certifies he or she has the requisite aeronautical knowledge to perform the operation.
- Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”.
Operator Certification and Responsibilities
- Operators would be required to:
o Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
o Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
o Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
o Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
o Be at least 17 years old.
o Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
o Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
o Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
- FAA airworthiness certification not required. However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft).
- Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.
- Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the Model Aircraft criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
- The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.