Because of the potential societally beneficial applications of small UAS, the FAA has been seeking to incorporate the operation of these systems into the national airspace system (NAS) since 2008. Small UAS or Drones also have safety concerns which must be carefully considered and rules provided. In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95). Section 333 of Public Law 112-95 directed the Secretary to determine whether UAS operations posing the least amount of public risk and no threat to national security could safely be operated in the NAS and, if so, to establish requirements for the safe operation of these systems in the NAS, prior to completion of the UAS comprehensive plan and rulemakings required by section 332 of Public Law 112-95.
On February 23, 2015, as part of its ongoing efforts to integrate UAS operations in the NAS and in accordance with section 333 of Public Law 112-95, the FAA issued the NPRM proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small UAS in the NAS.
Over 4,600 public comments were submitted in response to the NPRM. The FAA has considered the comments, and now issues this final rule to integrate small UAS into the NAS. Based on its consideration of the comments submitted in response to the NPRM, and its experience with the certification, exemption, and COA process, the FAA has developed the framework in this rule to enable certain small UAS operations to commence upon adoption of this rule and accommodate technologies as they evolve and mature. This 10 framework allows small UAS operations for many different non-recreational purposes, such as the ones discussed previously, without requiring airworthiness certification, exemption, or a COA.
B. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action
This rule will add a new part 107 to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) to allow for routine civil operation of small UAS in the NAS and to provide safety rules for those operations. Consistent with the statutory definition, this rule will define small UAS as UAS that use unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds. To mitigate risk, the rule will limit small UAS to daylight and civil twilight operations with appropriate collision lighting, confined areas of operation, and visual-line-of-sight operations. This rule will also address airspace restrictions, remote pilot certification, visual observer requirements, and operational limits in order to maintain the safety of the NAS and ensure that small UAS do not pose a threat to national security. Because UAS constitute a quickly changing technology, a key provision of this rule is a waiver mechanism to allow individual operations to deviate from many of the operational restrictions of this rule if the Administrator finds that the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.
Below is a summary of the major provisions of the rule.
The following are examples of possible small UAS operations that can be conducted under the framework in this rule:
• Crop monitoring/inspection;
• Research and development;
• Educational/academic uses;
• Power-line/pipeline inspection in hilly or mountainous terrain;
• Antenna inspections;
• Aiding certain rescue operations;
• Bridge inspections;
• Aerial photography; and
• Wildlife nesting area evaluations.
• 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 remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer.
• At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people 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 participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
• Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
• Must yield right of way to other aircraft.
• 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 groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
• Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.
• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.
• No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
• No operations from a moving aircraft.
• No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
• No careless or reckless operations.
• No carriage of hazardous materials.
• Requires preflight inspection by the remote pilot in command.
• 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.
• Foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft are allowed to operate under part 107 if they satisfy the requirements of part 375.
• External load operations are allowed if the object being carried by the unmanned aircraft is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.
• Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed provided that:
The aircraft, including its attached systems, payload and cargo weigh less than 55 pounds total;
The flight is conducted within visual line of sight and not from a moving vehicle or aircraft; and
The flight occurs wholly within the bounds of a State and does not involve transport between (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.
• Most of the restrictions discussed above are waivable if the applicant demonstrates that his or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.
Remote Pilot in Command Certification and Responsibilities
• Establishes a remote pilot in command position.
• A person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).
• To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:
Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either: Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or
Hold a part 61 pilot certificate other than student pilot, complete a flight review within the previous 24 months, and complete a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA.
Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
Be at least 16 years old.
• Part 61 pilot certificate holders may obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon submission of their application for a permanent certificate. Other applicants will obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate upon successful completion of TSA security vetting. The FAA anticipates that it will be able to issue a temporary remote pilot certificate within 10 business days after receiving a completed remote pilot certificate application.
• Until international standards are developed, foreign- certificated UAS pilots will be required to obtain an FAA issued remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. A remote pilot in command must:
• 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 rule.
• Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.
• Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation.
• Ensure that the small unmanned aircraft complies with the existing registration requirements specified in § 91.203(a)(2). A remote pilot in command may deviate from the requirements of this rule in response to an in-flight emergency.
• FAA airworthiness certification is not required. However, the remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight check of the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.
• Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
• The rule codifies the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.
While this rulemaking was pending, the FAA recognized that there already exists a population of small UAS operators and remote pilots who are ready and able to operate safely. To address the needs of these operators and remote pilots while these regulations were being finalized, the Department issued thousands of exemptions under its section 333 authority to permit civil visual-line-of-sight small UAS operations in the NAS.21 The operations permitted under those exemptions are similar to those that will be enabled by part 107. This however, does not mean that a Section 333 Exemption or waiver will no longer be required in addition if your operation falls outside of the current definition of the Part 107 ruling as stated; “Most of the restrictions discussed above are waivable if the applicant demonstrates that his or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.”
Some of the guidelines in the ruling which may in particular require an exemption are as follows;
- Flying indoors.
- No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
- No careless or reckless operations.
- Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only, unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
- May not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
- Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
The FAA also agrees with the SBA Office of Advocacy and other commenters who pointed out that: (1) the rulemaking process for higher-risk UAS operations may lag behind new and emerging technologies; and (2) certain individual operating environments may provide unique mitigations for some of the safety concerns underlying this rule. To resolve these issues, this rule will, in § 107.200, include the option to apply for a certificate of waiver. This certificate of waiver will allow a small UAS operation to deviate from certain provisions of part 107 if the Administrator finds that the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of that certificate of waiver. This is similar to the standard that the FAA utilizes to consider waivers to the requirements of 14 CFR part 91.29 A discussion as to whether a provision of part 107 is waivable can be found in the preamble section discussing that provision.
To obtain a certificate of waiver, an applicant will have to submit a request containing a complete description of the proposed operation and a justification, including supporting data and documentation as necessary, that establishes that the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of the requested certificate of waiver. The FAA expects that the amount of data and analysis required as part of the application will be proportional to the specific relief that is requested. Similarly, the FAA anticipates that the time required for it to make a determination regarding waiver requests will vary based on the complexity of the request. For example, a request for a major deviation from part 107 for an operation that takes place in a congested metropolitan area with heavy air traffic will likely require significantly more data and analysis than a request for a minor deviation for an operation that takes place in a sparsely populated area with minimal air traffic. If a certificate of waiver is granted, that certificate may include additional conditions and limitations designed to ensure that the small UAS operation can be conducted safely.
The certificate-of-waiver process will allow the FAA to assess case-specific information concerning a small UAS operation that takes place in a unique operating environment and consider allowing additional operating flexibility that recognizes safety mitigations provided by the specific operating environment. The FAA anticipates that this process will also serve as a bridging mechanism for new and emerging technologies; allowing the FAA to permit testing and use of those technologies, as appropriate, before the pertinent future rulemaking is complete.
Like information collected from § 333 exemptions, the FAA plans to collect useful data derived from waiver application and issuance such as what part 107 provisions have the greatest number of waiver requests, what technology is being utilized to enhance safety, and what safe operating practices are most effective. To evaluate the effectiveness of operating practices, the FAA plans to compare the mitigations imposed by waiver grants against accident and incident reports and observations made as part of the FAA’s oversight. For example, an FAA inspector conducting an inspection of a small UAS that is operating under a waiver will be able to observe potential safety issues that may arise during the operation. This information will used to assess risk and be shared with various organizations in the FAA to inform policy decisions and rulemaking efforts. drone-registration.net will continue to use our same process as filing a 333 Exemption as will the new Waiver as it is essentially one in the same. If you would like assistance in filing your “Waiver” please see the following link. https://drone-registration.net/333-exemption/