The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), DC Branch, is hosting a UAS event entitled “Emerging Global Approaches in the Regulation of Commercial UAS.” The event will take place on September 22, 2016, at 6pm at the British International School in Washington, DC. Continue reading →
A federal court upheld the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) subpoenas of a 19-year-old Connecticut drone operator in relation to YouTube videos showing two drones (also known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) modified to carry a flamethrower and a handgun. This decision further affirms the FAA’s broad enforcement authority over UAS, but it also highlights the common legal confusion over the precise boundaries of FAA regulation.
After two videos (linked here and here) depicting “weaponized” UAS garnered significant attention on YouTube, the FAA began an investigation into their ownership and development. As part of that investigation, the FAA issued administrative subpoenas to Austin Haughwout and his father Bret Haughwout, asking for depositions, records, video, photographs, and receipts related to the two UAS. The Haughwouts refused to comply with the subpoenas and instead challenged the FAA’s authority to enforce the subpoenas in federal court.
The wait is over for businesses across the United States eager to fly small drones (also known as small unmanned aircraft systems or sUAS). The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule regarding commercial operation of sUAS, known as Part 107, is now in effect. Part 107 opens the door to commercial sUAS flights that meet certain criteria, avoiding the need for each business to get FAA approval.
In a press conference, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta hailed the new rule as a transformational advancement in aviation policy while ensuring safety. The FAA forecasts as many as 600,000 drones to be operating under the new rule within the year.
The FAA’s new final rule, which will revolutionize commercial operations of small drones (also known as small Unmanned Aircraft Systems or sUAS), will become effective on Monday, August 29, 2016. The FAA is replacing its previous commercial sUAS regime requiring individual, case-by-case adjudications and establishing a broad authority for pilots to operate within certain parameters.
FAA’s Part 107 regulations create a structure to integrate commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (also known as sUAS or drones) into the National Airspace System (NAS). As part of this structure, the FAA has given the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a new and potentially time-consuming task: vetting commercial sUAS pilots who do not already have a certificate to operate manned flights. The proliferation of new applications underscores the importance of having an adequately staffed and funded TSA so integration of commercial sUAS is not delayed.
A key milestone in regulating the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) final rule overhauls the current case-by-case exemption regime, establishes an operational framework, and creates a new certification process for commercial sUAS pilots. The new rule creates significant opportunities for a wide range of industries, particularly through its waiver provisions that allow for the approval of commercial sUAS operations outside of Part 107—including nighttime and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations. The new rule will take effect in late August. Continue reading →
Today, the FAA unveiled its final rule for the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), also known as drones. Industries across the country have been waiting eagerly for the release of the new regulations, which provide a mechanism for commercial operation of sUAS. Previously, commercial operations of UAS were only permitted pursuant to an individual application to the FAA and the case-by-case award of a Section 333 exemption. The rule will take effect in late August and does not apply to model aircraft. Continue reading →
Last week, the FAA announced that it was lessening the regulatory requirements on schools, allowing students and faculty to use UAS (commonly known as drones) as part of their coursework. Additionally, the FAA announced that it was establishing a new long-term advisory committee that will advise the FAA on UAS issues. These two actions are incremental, yet promising, steps forward towards integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) and helping to develop the UAS industry in the United States.
This week, the FAA established a committee made up of government and industry stakeholders tasked with developing recommendations for new rules to govern the operation of “micro” UAS, which can be operated over people who are not involved in the operation of the UAS. Once released, these rules will permit commercial operators to utilize UAS in applications which have not been previously allowed in the National Airspace System (NAS).
The new aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) will focus specifically on crafting regulations for a new classification of UAS, called micro UAS. As defined by the FAA, micro UAS weigh less than 4.4 pounds and are constructed of materials that will break or yield on impact. The ARC will develop proposed performance-based standards required of micro UAS and suggest additional operating instructions which would permit an operator of a micro UAS to conduct flights over any person.
The committee will begin its work on March 1st and will submit its final report to the FAA on April 1st. The FAA will use the recommendations as the basis for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for micro UAS and eventually promulgate a final rule.
In today’s announcement regarding the number of registrations of model sUAS in the FAA’s sUAS database, the FAA also hinted at plans to extend the database to commercial operators in March.
In the press release, the FAA states that it “is working to make the online registration system available for non-model aircraft users – such as commercial operators – by March 21.” This extension of the registration requirements to commercial operators is a new step for the agency, which thus far has only opened the database to exclusively recreational or hobby sUAS operators.
The interim final rule requires new model sUAS to be registered before they fly outside, whereas users who operated their model sUAS before December 21, 2015 are not required to register until February 19, 2016. The interim final rule excluded commercial operators from the registration system.
The press release also announced that the DOT and FAA were “pleased” and “encouraged” that nearly 300,000 owners have registered their model sUAS in the first 30 days after the online registration system went live. However, this number appears to be a fraction of the over 700,000 sUAS that FAA predicted would be sold during the 2015 holiday season, not to mention the millions sold before then. Owners who registered in the first month received a refund for the $5 application fee—but that period ends today.