FAA drone registration is now part of the law

FAA drone registration is now part of the law

Get ready to fork up a few dollars to register that hefty but totally innocent drone of yours. The FAA’s requirement to have drones of certain weights registered is now back and this time it has some staying power. More than just an FAA rule, it has become part of the US law. That is partly due to the fact that the registration requirement is just a very small part of a larger, and more expensive, National Defense Authorization Act that US President Trump just signed into law.

 The Federal Aviation Administration’s 2015 rules requiring owners of drones weighing between 0.5 and 55 lbs to register their flying robots was shot down just last May by a D.C. appeals court. The court argued that the FAA didn’t have the authority to regulate such products, which it categorized under model aircraft. The FAA, naturally, said it would think of another strategy.

That strategy might have been to sneak in the requirement into a broader law, one that Trump would undoubtedly sign. The $700 billion act was, after all, in line with Trump’s goal of boosting the US’ military chops. He might have been willing to overlook a minuscule part of the Act that would have repercussions for unassuming consumers.

The FAA is naturally happy about the turn of events, but it’s not going to be smooth-sailing forward. Before the courts shot down its registration rule, the FAA already collected $5 from the 838,620 owners who already registered. The agency already started refunding those in response to the ruling. Now both the FAA and drone owners are left in limbo on how to proceed now that the requirement has been reinstated.

While many consumers, especially those with tiny drones, will be none too happy, it’s not exactly surprising that the law has headed in this direction. The number of drones taking to the skies is growing rapidly, and some of them flying into places they have no business being in. Unsurprisingly, there are even those, including US officials, who have come to see drones as potential weapons or, at the very least, spying machines for other governments.

by JC Torres


2017-12-13T10:21:12-07:00 December 13th, 2017|Aviation News, Aviation Safety, Blog, drones, FAA|

White House Announces Drone Regulation Pilot Program

AeroVironment Qube quadcopter

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will conduct a pilot program to evaluate how state and local governments might participate in regulating drone traffic at low altitudes—a role the FAA now serves. The department expects to select at least five industry-government partnerships to test the proposition.

According to the October 25 announcement, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum directing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to begin the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. The DOT will issue an official public notice in the Federal Register in the coming days with details about the application process. Selections will be made within 180 days of the notice for what is planned as a three-year program.

Participating local governments and drone operators will have “regulatory certainty and stability” to conduct various operations, including night flights, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight and package delivery, the DOT said. The program also will serve as a testbed for detect-and-avoid and counter-UAStechnologies.

Importantly, the partnerships will evaluate the issue of federal preemption as applied to drones—testing where and when a community should regulate low-flying aircraft relative to the FAA. The federal government has claimed sovereignty of the airspace since 1926, but drones have complicated that understanding.

The pilot program will draw on the findings of a “roles and responsibilities” work group of the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) called Task Group 1. In July, AIN reported that state and local governments largely were not participating on the work group, apparently due to concerns that industry was over-represented. More recently, The Washington Post, citing internal documents and emails, reported that the process “has been riven by suspicion and dysfunction.” One of the newspaper’s sources complained that a representative of Shenzhen, China-based DJI, the world’s leading small-drone manufacturer, co-chairs the task group.

Plans call for Task Group 1 and other work groups to summarize their findings at the next full DAC meeting, which is scheduled for November 8 at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. Pre-registration is required to attend the meeting, according to federal advisory organization RTCA, which manages the committee.

2017-10-26T10:23:34-06:00 October 26th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, FAA, UAV|

A federal appeals court shoots down the FAA’s drone registry requirement

The FAA’s drone database hit a major snag this week, courtesy of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. The D.C.-based court sided with drone hobbyist John Taylor, who argued that the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t have jurisdiction over what the law classifies as model aircraft.

“Taylor does not think that the FAA had the statutory authority to issue the Registration Rule and require him to register,” Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the statement. “Taylor is right.”

The court argued that the drone registration database violates 2012’s FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which states that the body, “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.”

The database was proposed in 2015 to addressing growing drone ownership in the U.S., which has brought with it a number of privacy and safety concerns in the government. The FAA will likely appeal the decision – or take another approach toward setting up a similar system.

“We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats. We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.”

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is similarly disappointed in the ruling. A rep from the organization provided TechCrunch with a comment from its CEO, Brian Wynne, stating,

AUVSI is disappointed with the decision today by the U.S. Court of Appeals to reject the FAA’s rule for registering recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A UAS registration system is important to promote accountability and responsibility by users of the national airspace, and helps create a culture of safety that deters careless and reckless behavior. We plan to work with Congress on a legislative solution that will ensure continued accountability across the entire aviation community, both manned and unmanned.

Drone sales have been growing at an impressive rate in the U.S. According to NPD, they effectively doubled between February 2016 and 2017 in the States. Within the first year of the rule, 550,000 drones were registered, an act that carries a $5 fee and potential criminal charges for non-compliance.

The ruling is being considered a victory for hobbyists themselves, who have balked at the manner of limitations these sorts of regulations would impose. But some drone makers, like DJI, which is expected to unveil something big (or small, rather) next week, is actually on the FAA’s side on this one.

“The FAA’s innovative approach to drone registration was very reasonable, and registration provides for accountability and education to drone pilots,” the company’s VP of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman said in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “I expect the legal issue that impedes this program will be addressed by cooperative work between the industry and policymakers.”

by TechCrunch   5/19/2017


2017-06-13T02:14:16-06:00 May 20th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA, FAA Authorization, UAS, UAV|

FAA Issues Part 107 Waivers, Airspace Authorizations

FAA Issues Part 107 Waivers, Airspace Authorizations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began issuing Part 107 waivers and airspace authorizations to drone operators starting August 29, 2016, the effective date of the new rule.  As of October 24, 2016, the agency has approved 81 authorizations for flights in Class D and E airspace, and has issued 36 waivers of Part 107 provisions to drone operators who applied after the rule’s effective date.

However, the agency has found that many applications have incorrect or incomplete information. Many applicants request too many waivers or request waivers for flights in types of airspace for which the FAA is not yet granting approvals. As a result, the agency has had to reject 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace applications.

It’s important for applicants to understand the information needed to make a successful safety case for granting a waiver. Refer to the performance-based standards (PDF) on our website.

For example, we clearly spell out the information required for a waiver to fly at night – one of the most common requests:

  • Applicant must provide a method for the remote pilot to maintain visual line of sight during darkness.
  • Applicant must provide a method for the remote pilot to see and avoid other aircraft, people on the ground, and ground-based structures and obstacles during darkness.
  • Applicant must provide a method by which the remote pilot will be able to continuously know and determine the position, altitude, attitude, and movement of their small unmanned aircraft (sUA).
  • Applicant must assure all required persons participating in the sUA operation have knowledge to recognize and overcome visual illusions caused by darkness, and understand physiological conditions which may degrade night vision.
  • Applicant must provide a method to increase conspicuity of the sUA to be seen at a distance of 3 statute miles unless a system is in place that can avoid all non-participating aircraft.

The other performance-based standards also list exactly what the FAA needs to consider a waiver. Operators must make waiver requests at:

Without a detailed description of how the applicant intends to meet these standards, the FAA can’t determine if a waiver is possible. Operators should select only the Part 107 regulations that need to be waived for the proposed operation. Applicants also should respond promptly to any request we make for additional information. If the agency does not receive a response after 30 days, it will withdraw the request.

Operators must apply for airspace authorizations on the same web page. The required information is spelled out in the waiver/airspace authorization instructions document (PDF).

As the FAA previously announced, operators who want to fly in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace don’t need FAA authorization. The agency is currently processing requests to operate in Class D and Class E airport surfaces. We will begin to consider requests for Class C drone flights after October 31 and for Class B airspace after December 5. Applications to fly in those areas before the indicated dates won’t be approved.

The Part 107 regulations provide a flexible framework for unmanned aircraft operations. Waivers and airspace authorizations are an important part of making the new rule work as intended. Applicants can help speed the process by making sure they make a solid, detailed safety case for any flights not covered under the small drone rule.

by FAA

2017-06-13T02:14:21-06:00 February 23rd, 2017|Blog, drones, FAA, FAA Authorization|

Section 333 vs. Part 107: What Works for You?


The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new small drone rule – formally known as Part 107 – is effective on August 29. You may also be wondering what happens to your Section 333 exemption grant or petition for exemption. View the video here.

The biggest question is whether you are better off flying under the provisions of Part 107, or should continue using your existing exemption?

Your exemption is valid until it expires – usually two years after it was issued. Even after Part 107 becomes effective, you may choose to fly following the conditions and limitations in your exemption.

However, if you want to operate under the new Part 107 regulations, you’ll have to obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow all of the rule’s operating provisions. You must apply for a waiver if some parts of your operation don’t meet the rule’s requirements.

If you already have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization under your Section 333 exemption – a “COA” – you can continue to fly under the COA limitations until it expires. If you don’t already have a COA, you probably won’t need one when the new drone rules go into effect.

However, if you want to fly in controlled airspace, you will need permission from FAA air traffic control. Details about obtaining that permission will be online at when the small drone rule is effective on August 29, 2016.

If you applied for a Section 333 exemption but haven’t received it yet, you should have received a letter from the FAA with specific information about the status of your petition.  Generally, if your petition is pending and falls within the provisions of the rule, you should follow the steps outlined in the rule.

Whether you choose to fly under your exemption or under the new small drone rule is your choice, depending on how you want to operate your aircraft. You’ll have to compare the conditions and limitations in your exemption to the operating requirements in the rule to determine which one best addresses your needs.


2017-06-13T02:14:25-06:00 October 25th, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA, UAS, UAV|

Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team Holds First Meeting

Phantom 2 City

People are captivated by the limitless possibilities the drone industry offers, but with them comes a host of safety challenges, as hundreds of thousands of drones take to the sky. At the Federal Aviation Administration, we realize we can’t solve these challenges alone. We need the expertise and collaboration of key industry and government stakeholders.

Enter the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), which held its first meeting October 18-19 in Washington, DC.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the creation of the UAST at the White House Drone Day on August 2. The group, which includes a wide variety of stakeholders from the drone and aviation industries, as well as the government, will gather and analyze data to enhance safety and operations of drones in the nation’s airspace.

The UAST is modeled on the highly successful Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) and General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC). CAST and the GAJSC use a data-driven, consensus-based approach to analyze safety data and develop specific interventions that will mitigate the root causes of accidents. Recommendations from both groups have significantly improved traditional aviation safety, and we expect the UAST to do the same for unmanned aircraft.

Although this first meeting was primarily organizational, team participants were enthusiastic about participating on the UAST and advancing the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.


2017-06-13T02:14:26-06:00 October 25th, 2016|Blog, drones, FAA, UAS, UAV|

New rules on small drones: What you need to know

That’s when rules kicked in that free them from having to request special permission from the federal government for any commercial drone endeavor — a waiver process that often took months.

Although industry experts say the Federal Aviation Administration’s new rules on commercial drones largely make it easier for companies to use the unmanned aerial vehicles, there are still a lot of constraints.

Here’s what you need to know.

What do the rules say?

Under the new commercial-drone rules, operators must keep their drones within visual line of sight — that is, the person flying the drone must be able to see it with the naked eye — and can fly only during the day, though twilight flying is permitted if the drone has anti-collision lights. Drones cannot fly over people who are not directly participating in the operation or go higher than 400 feet above the ground. The maximum speed is 100 mph.

As drones fill the California skies, lobbying efforts in a budding industry push back against drone regulations »

Drones can carry packages as long as the combined weight of the drone and the load is less than 55 pounds.

Before Monday, people needed a pilot’s license to fly a commercial drone. Under the new rules, people over age 16 can take an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved facility and pass a background check to qualify for a remote pilot certificate.

What if companies have plans that would break those rules?

Businesses can apply for a waiver of most of the operational restrictions as long as they can prove their proposal will be safe.

The FAA has already approved 76 such waivers, most of which involve commercial operations at night, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters Monday.

The new set of rules “just standardizes the exemption process and lowers the barrier to entry,” said Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

But, he said, the new waiver process will probably help regulators understand how companies want to use drones beyond these initial, limited regulations. That could one day lead to rules for more complex drone operations, such as those proposed by Amazon or Google.

What types of industries will benefit most from these rules?

Real estate, aerial photography, construction and other industries that want to use drones for basic functions, such as taking a few photos or videos of a property, probably will benefit the most because their plans align more closely with the regulations, industry experts said.

NEWSLETTER: Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj »

But companies with more ambitious or capital-intensive plans, such as oil and gas firms that want to investigate pipelines, or farmers who want to look at large fields, will largely be limited by restrictions such as the visual line-of-sight rule. Even security companies that want to have drones patrol after dark will need to apply for a waiver if they want to operate.

What about drone delivery companies?

Although the new rules allow drones to carry loads, the visual line-of-sight rule and the weight restriction will keep more ambitious companies with plans for long-distance travel, such as Amazon, from making significant deliveries that way.

Will these rules lead to a huge increase in commercial use of drones?

The FAA thinks it might. The agency has predicted there could be as many as 600,000 drones used for commercial operations during the next year. As of Friday, it said, there were only 18,940 registered for commercial purposes.

But it’s hard to tell because the industry is so new, Holland Michel of the Center for the Study of the Drone said.

The elimination of the pilot’s license requirement lowers the barrier to entry — operators just need to get their remote pilot certificate and register their drone — but it’s not clear whether users will think it’s worthwhile to invest in drone operations with the current restrictions, he said.

Gretchen West, senior advisor at law firm Hogan Lovells and co-executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance advocacy group, said she expects to see an uptick in use once the rules take effect.

Regulations, however, are only one obstacle to wider adoption of commercial drones, she said. Many enterprise companies are averse to risk, and issues surrounding privacy and public perception still need to be addressed.

“There’s still a lot of challenges we have to overcome as an industry to prove the value of drones, even outside the regulatory environment,” West said.

Do these rules apply to people who fly drones for fun?

The new rules do not apply to people who are flying drones strictly for recreational purposes. The FAA has a separate set of rules for those drone operators.

What’s next for commercial drone regulations?

The FAA said Monday that by the end of the year, it plans to release a rule on flying commercial drones over people.

Looking ahead, NASA is also researching prototype technology that could be used for an air traffic control system for low-flying commercial drone operations. This system would not require humans to monitor each drone continuously.

Field testing of some operations for firefighting and agriculture finished last year, and further testing of operations that go beyond visual line-of-sight will start in October, according to the NASA website.

Samantha Masunaga, LA Times


2017-06-13T02:14:28-06:00 August 30th, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA, FAA Authorization, UAS, UAV|

FAA Releases Final Small UAS Rule

Rule represents a major step forward, but work remains.

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its Final Rule governing commercial operations of small UAS, often referred to as Part 107. Many commercial UAS operators will be able to achieve their business objectives within the parameters of the rule, reducing the need to petition for Section 333 exemptions. Importantly, the rule permits transportation of property for compensation or hire under certain circumstances and removes a requirement that UAS pilots receive manned aircraft flying experience. The rule will go into effect 60 days after it is posted in the Federal Register, sometime in late August.

The Small UAV Coalition welcomes the Final Rule, but looks forward to continuing to work with regulators and lawmakers to develop a robust regulatory framework that will ensure that the United States remains the world’s UAS leader and does not fall behind global competitors who are increasingly embracing the benefits of this rapidly developing technology.


Key Components of the Final Rule

  • Maximum weight: 55 pounds.
  • Maximum altitude: 400 feet above ground level (but may operate over a structure if it remains within 400 feet of the structure and does not operate over 400 feet above the structure).
  • Maximum speed: 87 knots/100 mph.
  • Minimum age: 16.
  • Operations may only be conducted during daytime.
  • Operations may only be conducted within the visual line of sight.
  • Operations over people permitted only over those participating in the operation.
  • Transportation of property for compensation or hire permitted, as long as the total weight is no more than 55 pounds and the operation is conducted within a state.
  • Part 61 pilot certificate holders can take an online training course; others will take an aeronautical knowledge test at a designated FAA center.
  • Waiver provisions: Operations from moving vehicle, visual line of sight, operations near aircraft, operations near people, operating limitations for altitude and ground speed, minimum visibility, minimum distance from clouds, daylight operations, visual observer operations of multiple UAS.


The FAA is currently reviewing pending Section 333 petitions and intends to notify those outstanding petitioners whose proposed operations will fall under the rule. Those who do not comply with or would be waivable under the rule will still be reviewed under the Section 333 exemption process.

While the rule marks a turning point for commercial UAS operations in the United States, there are numerous regulatory roadblocks that must still be addressed to fully embrace the economic benefits of this technology. Business of all sizes and across all sectors utilizing UAS must be permitted to conduct operations beyond the visual line of sight and at night and to operate within an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system to fully and safely realize the the immense potential of UAS to create efficiencies and maximize revenue. A proposed rulemaking informed by the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee recommendations expected later this year and will address another key component of a robust commercial UAS regulatory framework, operations over people.

The Coalition looks forward to continuing to work with regulators, lawmakers, and industry in support of policies that will allow the United States to remain the world’s leader in UAS.

by  Small UAV Coalition

2017-06-13T02:14:32-06:00 June 27th, 2016|Blog, drones, FAA, FAA Authorization, UAS, UAV|

Amazon’s Prime Air VP outlines proposed UAS airspace system


Questioned about when we can trust technology that enables the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace, Gur Kimchi asks people to think about whether they’ve ever been on an airliner landing in bad weather with limited visibility.

“We already trust automation every day in the world’s worst conditions,” said Kimchi, vice president of Amazon’s Prime Air UAS package delivery project. “Why don’t we trust it the rest of the time?”

Speaking earlier this month at Xponential 2016 in New Orleans, he said, “We should be inspired by commercial aviation and the amazing level of safety it’s created.”

As a keynote speaker at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) annual conference and exposition, Kimchi provided a look at the approach Amazon has proposed to integrate small UAS into the national airspace below 500 feet. He described the concept as not only beneficial to Amazon, but also one that would enable the UAS industry to quickly implement an automated, integrated airspace.

After listing key UAS applications such as videography, photography, mapping and surveying, Kimchi noted, “What’s important, though, is to have a model that’s heterogeneous—it supports all these applications at once. It supports them from day one.”

Kimchi proposes overlapping traffic areas managed by what he described as “federated controllers,” a network similar to a cellular phone network.

“Your phone connects to your phone network. Your phone network talks to other phone networks connected to other phones.—they federate,” he explained. “Your drones will connect to your controller. My drones will connect to my controller. These controllers will federate. They’ll cooperate and communicate following standard protocols.”

Just as cell phones and laptops can communicate with each other almost anywhere in the world, Kimchi said a UAS traffic management system using standardized protocols could work internationally.

“Regulators will have their own high-level controllers that have visibility and oversight over the airspace that they manage,” Kimchi continued. “You don’t have to manage the airspace as the regulator; you have visibility and oversight over it. You know what’s happening at any given time. You can set controls. You can set policy.”

The UAS traffic management concept Kimchi outlined includes a buffer from 400 feet to 500 feet between manned aircraft and small UAS. An air corridor between 200 and 400 would be reserved for high-speed UAS equipped with sense-and-avoid systems, permanent Internet communications and that met industry-established standards. The airspace from ground level to 200 feet would be used by local traffic including hobbyists and commercial operators.

Kimchi described examples of a high-speed drone descending to deliver a package. Drones operating below 200 feet would be notified and cleared out of the airspace until the delivery is completed. In similar fashion, an air ambulance helicopter would receive priority clearance when landing or taking off from an urban setting.

He emphasized that at some point, the airspace would get crowded, which is why he recommends a system designed from the beginning to scale with increased UAS traffic using proven technology.

“We want to enable safe integration of the low-altitude airspace,” Kimchi said. “The concept of automated, federated traffic controls will build a scalable and robust capability. You really make it future-proof. The Internet doesn’t require a big re-plumbing—it just keeps scaling. Telephone networks keep scaling because of their architecture.”

He recommends testing the automated system in rural areas where its safety can be demonstrated.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Kimchi said. “The only way this will work is by everybody speaking the same language. We need interoperable protocols, and they have to be global, just like your phone, just like your laptop.”


By Patrick C. Miller | May 25, 2016


2017-06-13T02:14:35-06:00 June 1st, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, Section 333, UAS, UAV|

British drone-freezing ray gets US airports trial







A UK-developed system capable of jamming signals to small drones is to be trialled by the US aviation authority. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expanding efforts to source technology that can detect small, unmanned aerial vehicles near airports. Three British companies developed the Anti-UAV Defense System (Auds), due to be included in new trials. It works by jamming signals to drones, making them unresponsive. A thermal imaging camera allows the Auds operator to target the unwanted drone before signal jamming, via a high-powered radio signal, is activated. Auds was designed by Enterprise Control Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems and Chess Dynamics.

“Sometimes people fly drones in an unsafe manner,” said Marke “Hoot” Gibson, an FAA senior adviser. “Government and industry share responsibility for keeping the skies safe, and we’re pleased these three companies have taken on this important challenge.” The technology will be tested at several airports to be selected by the FAA.

Two other firms – Gryphon Sensors LLC and Sensofusion, both US-based – will also take part.

By BBC News

2017-06-13T02:14:35-06:00 June 1st, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA, Section 333, UAS, UAV|

Drones, sUAS and More: A Basic Guide for Unmanned Aircraft Terminology



Terms referring to drones are often used interchangeably among operators, regulators and manufacturers. Many people use the common term “drone,” while commercial operators, public organizations and associations refer to more specific terms, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), small UAS (sUAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

Below is a description of the different terms to help navigate in the drone (or your preferred term) industry.


The catch-all term for unmanned aircraft that can fly autonomously or be remotely piloted, “drone” is the broadest terminology. It is also the most common.

Unmanned Aircraft (UA) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

Although used less frequently, UA or RPA is the flying component of a drone. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines an unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft which is intended to operate with no pilot on board.

Under the FAA framework, the UA is the “flying portion of the system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links and any additional equipment that is necessary for the UA to operate safely.”

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

UAS is a term mostly used in the U.S. and in the UK by the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVSA).

The FAA defines the UAS as the “UA and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.” Section 333 exemption specifies that a UAS is composed of an “unmanned aircraft and associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.”

The UK Civil Aviation Authority explains that “the term Unmanned Aircraft (UA) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) are used to describe the aircraft itself, whereas the term Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is generally used to describe the entire operating equipment including the aircraft, the control station from where the aircraft is operated and the wireless data link.”

Small UAS (sUAS)

The FAA uses the term sUAS to categorize UAS weighting less than 55 pounds and conducting non-recreational operations.

Micro UAS

The FAA uses the term micro UAS to designate sUAS under 4.4 pounds and composed of materials that will break or yield on impact. Earlier this year, the FAA created the aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to focus on drafting regulations for this new category of UAS. The ARC gave its recommendations last month, which could be included in the FAA rulemaking for small UAS (sUAS) expected in June.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

ICAO was the first to use the term RPAS and defines it as “a remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components as specified in the type design.” EUROCONTROL, the EASA, and the civil aviation authorities in Australia and New Zealand follow ICAO’s use of RPAS.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

UAV is a term used among professionals to refer to a drone for non-recreational purposes. ICAO first used the term UAV in 2004 and defines it as “a pilotless aircraft, in the sense of Article 8 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which is flown without a pilot-in-command on-board and is either remotely and fully controlled from another place (ground, another aircraft, space) or programmed and fully autonomous.”

What about model aircraft?

A model aircraft is a drone or sUAS used for recreational purposes only, subject to applicable requirements. The FAA requires that the drone must weigh no more than 55 pounds, be flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

May 31, 2016

2017-06-13T02:14:35-06:00 June 1st, 2016|Blog, drones, Section 333, UAS, UAV|

U.S. government publishes “voluntary best practices” for drone use

U.S. government publishes “voluntary best practices” for drone use

Companies and individuals should refrain from using drones to spy on their employees or their neighbors, but for news organizations it’s well within their remit to do just that.

At least, according to new guidelines published by the U.S. government on how to use drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), as officials now like to call them.

The government’s advice comes by way of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NTIA has just released a new set of best practice guidelines on drones, with specific advice for companies, individuals and news organizations after a year of consultations with all three groups.

As is suggested by the word “guidelines”, these rules are not legally binding, but a recommendation. Nonetheless, they will serve as the foundation of a much broader effort by the U.S. government on how to regulate drone technology and assess its future impact on citizens and business.

The new NTIA guidelines are in many ways the antithesis of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)’s recently published drone rules – whereas the FAA’s rules seem deliberately precise, the NTIA’s recommendations are somewhat vague; while the FAA threatens people with fines, the NTIA instead preaches for users to take caution; where the FAA often seems unrealistic, the NTIA goes out of its way to be as realistic as possible.

As for the specific guidelines for each of the three groups, the NTIA pays a lot of attention to companies wanting to use drones. It’s guidelines for companies state they should give people advance warning of the fact they intend to fly drones over their homes or place of work. It recommends they provide approximate times and should inform people of the information they will be gathering and what they intend to do with that information. The guidelines further stress that companies should only gather information that is necessary, and they should ensure that data is kept secure.

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The NTIA also advises against certain uses altogether, for example anything to do with employment eligibility, promotion, or retention; credit eligibility; and healthcare treatment eligibility. In other words, the NTIA doesn’t recommend companies spy on their employees (but of course, this is only a “recommendation”).

As far as individual drone flyers go, the NTIA says it’s better to let people know ahead of time if you’re going to be buzzing around their heads, taking pictures and videos of them. It also warns against flying over private property, gathering personal information, and says drone operators should give people a reasonable level of privacy, and delete any data on people if they ask.

Last but not least, news organizations. Quite why the NTIA thought necessary to separate them from the broader “companies” category isn’t entirely made clear, but the document notes that: “Newsgathering and news reporting are strongly protected by United States law, including the First Amendment to the Constitution. The public relies on an independent press to gather and report the news and ensure an informed public.”

As such, the rules do not apply to news organizations, which are instead advised to “operate under the ethics rules and standards of their organization, and according to existing federal and state laws.”

by  | May 22, 2016

2017-06-13T02:14:36-06:00 May 23rd, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, Government Regulation, Section 333, UAS, UAV|

FAA Expands Online Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration

Thursday, March 31 – Starting today, owners of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) used for commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operations will be able to use the FAA’s new, streamlined, web-based registration process to register their aircraft. The web-based process will significantly speed up registration for a variety of commercial, public use and other users. Registration for those users is $5, the same low fee that model aircraft owners pay.

“Registration is an important tool to help us educate aircraft owners and safely integrate this exciting new technology into the same airspace as other aircraft operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

All owners of small UAS used for purposes other than as model aircraft must currently obtain a 333 exemption, a public certificate of authorization or other FAA authorization to legally operate, in addition to registering their aircraft. Before today, the FAA required all non-hobby unmanned aircraft owners to register their aircraft with the FAA’s legacy aircraft registry in Oklahoma City, OK.

Those owners who already have registered in the legacy system do not have to re-register in the new system. However, the FAA is encouraging new owners who are registering for the first time to use the new, web-based registration system. Owners who register under the new system can easily access the records for all of the aircraft they have registered by logging into their on-line account. Small UAS owners who have registered under the web-based system who intend to use their aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft will also need to re-register to provide aircraft specific information.

The FAA first opened up the web-based registration for model unmanned aircraft owners on Dec. 21, 2015. The agency is expanding that existing website to accommodate owners of aircraft used for purposes other than model aircraft. This registration process includes additional information on the manufacturer, model and serial number, in addition to the owner’s physical and email addresses. Like the model aircraft registration process, a certificate is good for three years, but each certificate covers only one aircraft.

Register here.

2016-04-04T08:47:05-06:00 April 4th, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA Authorization, Section 333, UAS, UAV|

FAA Creating Committee to Determine Micro UAS Flying Rules Over People


Today, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it is establishing an aviation rulemaking committee of industry stakeholders that will work on constructing a framework that details how certain UAS could be flown over people not involved with the operation.

The committee will focus on micro UAS but instead of focusing on weight classification, the committee will determine which drones are safe over crowds through a performance-based standard. The committee will weigh human injury thresholds, hazard and risk assessment methodologies and acceptable levels of risk for those not involved in the operation.

“Based on the comments about a ‘micro’ classification submitted as part of the small UAS proposed rule, the FAA will pursue a flexible, performance-based regulatory framework that addresses potential hazards instead of a classification defined primarily by weight and speed,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The committee will then outline how manufacturers can meet this safety requirement. The committee will submit a report to the FAA by April 1. Members of the committee will be appointed by Earl Lawrence, the director of the UAS Integration Office housed inside the FAA, and cochaired by Nancy Egan, general counsel for 3D Robotics. The committee will be modeled after the UAS registration task force, which made a similar quick-turnaround decision on what kind of identification UAS should carry — a process that took about one month.

“The department continues to be bullish on new technology,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, head of the department that oversees the FAA. “We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System. The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”

by AUVSI News

2017-06-13T02:14:38-06:00 March 2nd, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, drones, FAA, FAA Authorization, Section 333, UAS, UAV|