All inventors, developers, entrepreneurs and investors interested in the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, or more commonly referred to as “drones,” take note; this morning the FAA announced the release of the long awaited regulations governing the commercial use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems – to be promulgated in 14 C.F.R. Part 107 (the “Commercial UAS Regulations”). The new Commercial UAS Regulations make it much easier and less expensive for businesses to use drones to support their commercial operations. Highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows: Continue Reading FAA Releases New Commercial UAS Regulations
On Tuesday June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced the release of the long awaited regulations for the commercial operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“sUAS”) – to be promulgated in 14 C.F.R. Part 107 (the “Commercial UAS Regulations”). The Commercial UAS Regulations will be effective sixty (60) days from the date of their publication in the Federal Register. Highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows:
On May 18, 2016 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) released a set of voluntary best practices for commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) use. That best practice guide was the end result of a development process involving input from individuals and entities in the commercial, academic, civil, and government sectors. Some of these best practices include requiring drone operators to:
- Minimize operations over or within private property without consent of the property owner or appropriate legal authority;
- Have a detailed data collection policy and limit data collection to what is outlined in that policy;
- Not knowingly make the personal information of others public unless permission is first obtained; and
- Not use or share personal information for marketing purposes without first gaining permission.
The FAA issued a major announcement yesterday on the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) for educational institutions (link). Students of educational institutions no longer need a Section 333 exemption or other authorization to fly under certain conditions, provided that they follow the rules for model aircraft.
Day Two of the FAA’s 2016 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium built onto the discussions from Day One. Day Two was spent in breakout sessions intended to allow the FAA to listen to industry and stakeholder concerns, questions and ideas. The breakout sessions were filled with robust dialogue and information sharing.
While the breakout sessions covered multiple topics, including certification, airspace management, and research and technology issues, a few common themes emerged:
On April 19, 2016, FAA hosted the first day of its 2016 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium. The purpose of the Symposium is to provide a forum for UAS industry and stakeholders to provide input to FAA decision-makers on topics related to UAS integration.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta opened the Symposium by discussing, in part, the agency’s three main goals with respect to UAS integration: (1) safely enabling UAS operations in the National Airspace System (“NAS”); (2) facilitating the integration of future technological advancements; and (3) ensuring that the United States retains a leadership role with respect to the development and operation of UAS. Importantly, he also mentioned that the new small UAS rules may be available by the end of “spring”.
The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) has submitted its report and recommendations to FAA. The ARC identified four small UAS categories. Whereas Category 1 includes UAS which weigh less than 250 grams, micro UAS fall within categories 2 through 4 based on the likelihood of causing injury “as expressed in the rule by not exceeding an impact energy threshold defined by the FAA in J/cm2.” Each category would be subject to any restrictions that may be promulgated under the proposed 14 C.F.R. Part 107 “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems”, including by not limited to altitude and time of operations restrictions. The recommended categories are as follows:
On March 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised the maximum permissible operating altitude for commercial and governmental unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds from 200 feet to 400 feet. This increase is for the “blanket” Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (“COA”) under Section 333. Until now, commercial and governmental UAS required special authorization to operate above 200 feet.
On March 9, 2016, the Senate introduced the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658), and it contains the following provisions related to unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) regulation and consumer protection:
- Directs the FAA to develop an online knowledge and safety test which operators of UAS must pass before flying.
- Directs the FAA and NASA to develop a pilot program for a UAS traffic management system, with 6 test sites.
- Directs both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Comptroller General to develop a report on UAS privacy best-practices.
- Creates a new commercial and governmental UAS registration database.
- Creates a civil penalty of up to $20,000 to operate UAS in a way which interferes with firefighting, law enforcement, or emergency response activities.
On February 24, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced that it would establish a Performance Standards and Requirements for Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the “Micro UAS ARC”). The entities that have been invited to participate are listed here, and include members of the aviation community and industry organizations, manufacturers, and researchers who have a vested interest in Micro UAS.