This is an update to these previous blogs:
- Mass Layoff of Media Photographers to Increase Business Efficiency,
- There’s a Drone for You: For Photography, Selfies and Iceberg/Whale Watching, and
- Photographers’ Alert: Drone Dangers.
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a framework of regulations (pdf) that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – a.k.a. drones – in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.
- The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations.
The FAA is proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules to allow the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System. These changes would address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, certification of their operators, registration, and display of registration markings. The proposed rule would also find that airworthiness certification is not required for small unmanned aircraft system operations that would be subject to this proposed rule. Lastly, the proposed rule would prohibit model aircraft from endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.
The proposed provisions in the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) include the following.
- Unmanned aircraft 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.
- 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 person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
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 Administration.
- 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.
- 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.
This video presents FAA proposes rules to regulate drone use.
- The FAA is proposing a number of rules to deal with the growing interest from businesses looking to use drones.
Professional photographers received good news over the weekend as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new guidelines that would seem to pave the way for widespread legal use of small drones in the U.S. While the details are far from complete, the proposal would seem to open the door for professional photographers to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as an additional offering for their clients. However, that door is not open just yet….
And there could be even more positive news on the horizon for PPA members as the FAA has agreed to look at more relaxed regulations for micro-drones, a class of unmanned aircraft weighing less than 4.4 lbs. That is significant to photographers since many are already using these smaller drones outside of their business….
The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at:
- The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule.
- The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”
FAA Wants Your Comments
- Dates: Send comments on or before April 24, 2015.
- Addresses: Send comments identified by docket number FAA–2015–0150 using any of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
- Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M–30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12–140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590–0001.
- Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
- Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202–493–2251.
- Privacy: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL– 14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy.
- Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov at any time.
- Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to the Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
- For Further Info Contact: For technical questions concerning this action, contact Lance Nuckolls, Office of Aviation Safety, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, AFS–80, Federal Aviation Administration, 490 L’Enfant Plaza East, SW., Suite 3200, Washington, DC 20024; telephone (202)267–8447; email UASfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- For legal questions concerning this action, contact Alex Zektser, Office of Chief Counsel, International Law, Legislation, and Regulations Division, AGC–220, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267–3073; email Alex.Zektser@faa.gov.
DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
February 15, 2015
Regulations will facilitate integration of small UAS into U.S. aviation system
WASHINGTON – The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.
The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.
The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”
The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at www.regulations.gov. Separate from this proposal, the FAA intends to hold public meetings to discuss innovation and opportunities at the test sites and Center of Excellence. These meetings will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.
“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The proposed rule would require an operator to maintain visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses). The FAA is asking for comments on whether the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”
Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months. A small UAS operator would not need any further private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot license or medical rating).
The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:
- A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.
- The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.
- A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
- A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.
- Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.
- Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).
The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS.
Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. For example, an operator would have to perform a preflight inspection that includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with FAA-certificated components also could be subject to agency airworthiness directives.
The new rules would not apply to model aircraft. However, model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Generally speaking, the new rules would not apply to government aircraft operations, because we expect that these government operations will typically continue to actively operate under the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) process unless the operator opts to comply with and fly under the new small UAS regulations.
In addition to this proposal, earlier today, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections for the Federal Government’s use of UAS in the national airspace system which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAS use.
The current unmanned aircraft rules remain in place until the FAA implements a final new rule. The FAA encourages new operators to visit:
You can view the FAA’s Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later today at:
An overview of the Small UAS rule can be viewed at:
You can view the fact sheet at:
Press Conference audio is available here.
For more information on the FAA and UAS, visit: http://www.faa.gov/uas/