The FAA’s new rule (or Part 107) for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (also known as sUAS or drones) took effect on Monday, August 29, 2016. Existing Section 333 Exemption holders may choose to continue operating under the terms and conditions of their exemption until it expires or operate under Part 107 as long as they comply with the rule’s limitations. Whether to operate under a current Section 333 Exemption or Part 107 is the operator’s choice and depends on the nature of the operation. Continue reading →
To date, the FAA has limited Section 333 exemptions for commercial operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to daytime hours. The FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes rules that limit small UAS (sUAS) commercial operations to daytime hours. But, the NPRM recognizes that certain conditions and mitigation may be appropriate for the FAA to allow nighttime operations. As manufacturers continue to develop technologies that will address the FAA’s concerns about nighttime operations, operators and manufacturers should take the opportunity to submit comments and demonstrate to the FAA that sufficient nighttime conditions can be as safe as daytime operations and provide substantial safety benefits to many industries.
Recently the FAA increased the pace at which it grants Section 333 exemptions by foregoing the public comment process. For example, in early April, the FAA issued 25 exemptions over the span of two days. Those exemptions authorized UAS operations for a variety of purposes, including, among others, closed-set motion picture filming, flare stack and power lines inspections, roof inspections, precision agriculture, and wildlife monitoring. As the FAA works through hundreds of applications, the summary grant process presents a significant opportunity to business owners for accelerated decisions.
For the first time, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) granted Section 333 exemptions that allowed individuals holding a sport or recreational pilot certificate to conduct unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) operations under those exemptions. Previously the FAA required all UAS operations authorized under Section 333 exemptions to be conducted by individuals holding either a commercial or private pilot certificate. Important to businesses seeking to use UAS, the FAA’s decision to open up Section 333 operations to sport and recreational pilots will make it easier for businesses to recruit and train a cadre of qualified UAS pilots, especially given the reduced training requirements and associated reduction in costs. For example, while an individual applying for a private pilot certificate must log at least 40 hours of flight time — 20 hours of which must be flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of which must be solo flight training — an individual seeking a sport pilot certificate need only log 20 hours of flight time, half that required for a private pilot certificate.
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: