Recently the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced an interim policy to streamline the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (“COA”) process for unmanned aircraft operations (“UAS”) operating under a Section 333 exemption. The simplified COA process will be a boon to the 35 new exemptions granted since the FAA made its announcement. Under the old process, FAA evaluated every UAS operation separately, with processing times of up to 60 days. Under the new process, FAA will provide Section 333 exemption holders with “blanket” COAs for flights anywhere in the United States (except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations) so long as the UAS are operated under the following conditions:
On February 15, 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed rules for the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) weighing less than 55 pounds—a long-awaited step towards integrating commercial UAS flights such as precision agriculture, surveying, real estate photography, and utility and infrastructure inspections (e.g., electrical wires, pipelines, and bridges) into U.S. airspace. But the proposed rules leave prohibited other desired commercial uses (e.g., package delivery, spray operations and nighttime flights) and unanswered key safety, privacy, security, liability, and spectrum questions. Comments to the FAA’s rules are due April 24, 2015 and all affected parties, including businesses and industries hoping to use any-sized UAS, should take advantage of this opportunity to offer their views, concerns, and suggestions to shape the incipient regulatory framework for UAS.