Safe DRONE Act of 2017

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The Safe DRONE Act of 2017 is being introduced by four U.S. senators in a bipartisan bill designed to advance the development of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry and ensure the U.S. keeps pace in the development and implementation of the technology. The Safe DRONE Act of 2017 is being introduced by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner, D-Va.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; and Dean Heller, R-Nev.

There are several Sections to the Bill however, in regards to Hobby and Recreational use the following is being introduced before Congress.

(a) In GENERAL. — Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, a person may operate an unmanned aircraft without specific operating authority from the Federal Aviation Administration if — (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use and the aircraft is operated in accordance with the safety guidelines of a community-based organization that have been published in a publically accessible format by the Federal Aviation Administration; (3) the aircraft is not flown beyond visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or persons colocated with and in direct communication with the person operating the aircraft; (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft and does not pose undue hazard to any other aircraft, obstacle, or person; (5)(A) the operator— (i) obtains prior authorization from air traffic control before operating in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport and (ii) complies with all temporary and permanent airspace restrictions in place for the furtherance of security and law enforcement interests; or (B) in the case of an operator conducting operations from a permanent location within such airspace or a community-based organization conducting a sanctioned event at a fixed site within such airspace, establishes a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport); (6) the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level, except under special conditions and programs established by a community-based organization;
(7) the aircraft is registered and marked in accordance with chapter 441 of title 49, United States Code, and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a law enforcement agency upon request; and (8) the operator has completed an online safety course administered by the Federal Aviation Administration for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems under this section, and proof of completion of safety course is made available to the Administrator or a law enforcement agency upon request.

Some of the Key Points of The Safe DRONE Act of 2017:

  • Develops a Trained UAS Workforce.  Directs the Secretary of Transportation to designate a consortium of Community and Technical Colleges aimed at expanding the capacity of those colleges to train students for career opportunities in the UAS industry, including maintenance and repair, flight operations related to specific applications and data analysis.
  • Coordinates Federal UAS Spectrum Policy. Establishes an inter-agency working group, with a broad array of stakeholders, tasked with developing a cohesive federal policy to address the near-term and long-term communications and spectrum needs to facilitate safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system.
  • Advances Unmanned Traffic Management. Directs the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with NASA, to develop an implementation plan within one year to achieve full operational capability of UAS traffic management.
  • Enhances UAS Safety and Security. Establishes an inter-agency working group involving relevant federal security agencies to develop recommendations for enhanced safety and security of expanded small UAS operations beyond visual line of sight and over people, and requires the FAA release rules within one year of enactment.
  • Provides UAS Registration Authority. Gives Congressional authorization for FAA to continue registration and marking requirement for small UAS to promote safe and responsible use, but provides certain exemptions for the model aircraft community.
  • Extends Research Opportunities at UAS Test Sites. Extends Congressional authorization of FAA-designated UAS test sites through FY 2024, and allocates $14 million in federal funding for research and development through the test sites.
  • Supports Emergency Operations Guidelines.  Emphasizes Congressional support for clearly defined FAA rules allowing for civil and public operators to utilize UAS in assisting emergency response operations, such as firefighting, search and rescue and post-disaster infrastructure restoration efforts.
  • Continues Development of UAS Industry. Exempts rules primarily related to UAS operations from the President’s “one-in, two-out” Executive Order to allow for continued development of the UAS industry through establishing new federal rules for operations.

The full text of this bill can be found here.

8 Comments on “Safe DRONE Act of 2017”

  1. I am in the process of receiving my recreational drone certificate and only will use it for recreational purposes. I do understand my restrictions and understand my enjoyment does not supersede SAFETY.

  2. When registering I noticed as I finished I would be able to download and print the UAS rules and regulations. How do I do that?

  3. Two Questions: I am a 107 Licensed Commercial UAS Pilot. Can I fly as both a hobbyist and for commercial near an airport by contacting the tower and be granted permission to fly as only a hobbyist? I am purchasing another DJI Quadcopter. Can I use the same registration number I obtained for my first DJI Mavic Pro for the new one even if I plan to use them as a hobbyist or do I have to obtain a new registration number for the new drone?

  4. I just recently renewed my 3yr drone registration, takeing the quizz I failed one question, I believed recreational drones were permitted to fly at night, no waiver required, according to the quizz I was wrong, I’m seeing conflicting statements saying it is permitted, I cannot find anything on the FAA site explaining yes or no, comments?

    1. As of today, you will require a waiver to operate a drone after dark. There are ongoing discussions to allow drone operators to fly at night without first acquiring a waiver however, this has not become law yet.

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