On February 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking setting forth the requirements commercial operators must meet in order to fly small (i.e., less than 55 pounds) unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones. If adopted, the rules would address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, certification of their operators, registration and display of registration markings. Below is a summary of the major provisions of the proposed rulemaking. The entire notice of proposed rulemaking can be found at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ60_NPRM_2-15-2015_joint_signature.pdf. While final rules are likely years away, the proposed rules provide a good indication of the matters upon which the FAA intends to focus.
|SUMMARY OF MAJOR PROVISIONS|
|Operational Limitations||· Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).· Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.· At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
· Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation.
· Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official
sunset, local time).
· Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
· May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
· First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and- avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
· Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
· Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
· Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
· No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet
& above) airspace.
· Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
· Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without
· No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
· No operations from a moving vehicle or aircraft, except from a watercraft on the water.
· No careless or reckless operations.
· Requires preflight inspection by the operator.
· A person may not operate a small unmanned
aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of
any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
· Proposes a microUAS category that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, and would require airman to self-certify that they are familiar with the aeronautical knowledge testing areas.
|Operator Certification and Responsibilities||· Pilots of a small UAS would be considered“operators”.· Operators would be required to:
o Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
o Be vetted by the Transportation Security
o Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
o Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
o Be at least 17 years old.
o Make available to the FAA, upon request,
the small UAS for inspection or testing, and
any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
o Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
o Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
|Aircraft Requirements||· FAA airworthiness certification not required.However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft).· Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft
simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.
|Model Aircraft||· Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section336 of Public Law 112-95.· The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the Nation Airspace System.|