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.
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.