FAA posts draft UAV regulations

A Summary of the FAA draft regulation are here :

 Operating Limits: 

  • 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.
  • May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
  • First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-andavoid” 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 ATC permission.
  • 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:
    • Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
    • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
    • Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
    • Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
    • Be at least 17 years old.
    • 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.
    • Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
    • 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 section 336 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 NAS.

Micro UAS Classification

  • The unmanned aircraft used in the operation would weigh no more than 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms).
  • The unmanned aircraft would be made out of frangible materials that break, distort, or yield on impact so as to present a minimal hazard to any person or object that the unmanned aircraft collides with.
  • During the course of the operation, the unmanned aircraft would not exceed an airspeed of 30 knots.
  • During the course of the operation, the unmanned aircraft would not travel higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL).
  • The unmanned aircraft would be flown within visual line of sight; first-person view would not be used during the operation; and the aircraft would not travel farther than 1,500 feet away from the operator.
  • The operator would maintain manual control of the flight path of the unmanned aircraft at all times, and the operator would not use automation to control the flight path of the unmanned aircraft.
  • The operation would be limited entirely to Class G airspace.
  • The unmanned aircraft would maintain a distance of at least 5 nautical miles from any airport.

The FAA’s micro UAS approach would allow micro UAS to operate directly over people not involved in the operation. Under the FAA’s micro UAS approach, the operator of a micro UAS also would be able to operate using a UAS airman certificate with a different rating (an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a micro UAS rating) than the airman certificate that would be created by proposed part 107. No knowledge test would be required in order to obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a micro UAS rating; instead, the applicant would simply submit a signed statement to the FAA stating that he or she has familiarized him or herself with all of the areas of knowledge that are tested on the initial aeronautical knowledge test that is proposed under part 107.

The FAA is also considering whether to require, as part of the micro UAS approach, that the micro UAS be made out of frangible material. A UAS that is made out of frangible material presents a significantly lower risk to persons on the ground, as that UAS is more likely to shatter if it should impact a person rather than injuring that person. Without the risk mitigation provided by frangible-material construction, the FAA would be unable to allow micro UAS to operate directly over a person not involved in the operation.

The full draft FAA regulations can be see here.

Here are some short excerpts from the draft legislation to answer some of the most likely questions:

Operator Certification: Under the proposed rule, the person who manipulates the flight controls of a small UAS would be defined as an “operator.”  The operator must pass a test every 24 months, administered by the FAA or an approved FAA testing center.

Visual Observer: Under the proposed rule, an operator would not be required to work with a visual observer, but a visual observer could be used to assist the operator with the proposed visual-line-of-sight and see-and-avoid requirements by maintaining constant visual contact with the small unmanned aircraft in place of the operator.  A small UAS operation would not be limited in the number of visual observers involved in the operation, but the operator and visual observer(s) must remain situated such that the operator and any visual observer(s) are all able to view the aircraft at any given time.  The operator and visual observer(s) would be permitted to communicate by radio or other communication-assisting device, so they would not need to remain in close enough physical proximity to allow for unassisted oral communication. Since the operator and any visual observers would be required to be in a position to maintain or achieve visual line of sight with the aircraft at all times, the proposed rule would effectively prohibit a relay or “daisy-chain” formation of multiple visual observers by requiring that the operator must always be capable of seeing the small unmanned aircraft. Such arrangements would potentially expand the area of a small UAS operation and pose an increased public risk if there is a loss of aircraft control.


Airworthiness: Pursuant to section 333(b)(2) of Public Law 112-95, the Secretary has determined that small UAS subject to this proposed rule would not require airworthiness certification because the safety concerns associated with small UAS operation would be mitigated by the other provisions of this proposed rule. Rather, this proposed rule would require the operator to ensure that the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation by conducting an inspection prior to each flight. Public Law 112-95, Sec. 333(b)(2) provides the US Secretary of Transportation with discretionary power as to whether airworthiness certification should be required for certain small UAS.  Subsection 333(b)(2) allows for the determination that airworthiness certification is not necessary for certain small UAS. The key determinations that must be made in order for UAS to operate under the authority of section 333 are: (1) the operation must not create a hazard to users of the national airspace system or the public; and (2) the operation must not pose a threat to national security.

(p91) The FAA does not propose to require a type certificate, a production certificate, a PMA or TSO authorization for small UAS or any part installed on the small UAS. However, to provide manufacturers with flexibility, manufacturers would not be prohibited from installing parts that are FAA-certificated, have received PMA, or are TSO-authorized for manned-aircraft use on the small UAS, provided the small unmanned aircraft remains under 55 pounds after the installation of the part

The approach of the proposal is meant to address low risk operations; to the greatest extent possible, it takes a data-driven, risk-based approach to defining specific regulatory requirements for small UAS operations.

Sense and Avoid  (p67)The FAA considered proposing that a UAS operator be permitted to exercise his or her see-and-avoid responsibilities through technological means, such as onboard cameras. We recognize that technology is developing that could provide an acceptable substitute for direct human vision in UAS operations. FAA does not, however, believe this technology has matured to the extent that would allow it to be used safely in small UAS operations in lieu of visual line of sight. The FAA has not identified an acceptable technological substitute for the safety protections provided by direct human vision in small UAS operations at this time.

The FAA notes that this proposed requirement does not require the person maintaining visual line of sight to constantly watch the unmanned aircraft for every single 68 second of that aircraft’s flight. The FAA understands and accepts that this person may lose sight of the unmanned aircraft for brief moments of the operation. This may be necessary either because the small UAS momentarily travels behind an obstruction or to allow the person maintaining visual line of sight to perform actions such as scanning the airspace or briefly looking down at the small UAS control station. The visual-line-of-sight requirement of this proposed rule would allow the person maintaining visual line of sight brief moments in which he or she cannot directly see the small unmanned aircraft provided that the person is able to see the surrounding operational area sufficiently well to carry out his or her visual-line-of-sight-related responsibilities. Anything more than brief moments during which the person maintaining visual line of sight is unable to see the small unmanned aircraft would be prohibited under this proposed rule.

The FAA has determined that technology has not matured to the extent that would allow small UAS to be used safely in lieu of visual line of sight without creating a hazard to other users of the NAS or the public, or posing a threat to national security. (page 31).

Air Carrier Operations  The FAA notes that some industries may desire to transport property via UAS. 29 Proposed part 107 would not prohibit this type of transportation so long as it is not done for compensation and the total weight of the aircraft, including the property, is less than 55 pounds. For example, research and development operations transporting property could be conducted under proposed part 107, as could operations by corporations transporting their own property within their business under the other provisions of this proposed rule.  The FAA is seeking comment on whether UAS should be permitted to transport property for payment within the other proposed constraints of the rule, e.g., the ban on flights over uninvolved persons, the requirements for line of sight, and the intent to limit operations to a constrained area. The FAA also seeks comment on whether a special class or classes of air carrier certification should be developed for UAS operations.

Flight Termination (p74)  This proposed rule would not mandate the use of a flight termination system nor would this proposed rule mandate the equipage of any other navigational aid technology.

Drug and Alcohol Management Plans (DAMP) (p92)  Proposed § 107.27 would require small UAS operators and visual observers to comply with the alcohol and drug use prohibitions that are currently in place in part 91 of the FAA’s regulations. Small UAS operators and visual observers would also be subject to the existing regulations of § 91.19, which prohibit knowingly carrying narcotic drugs, marijuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances.

Medical Conditions (p94)  This proposed rule would not require a small UAS operator or visual observer to hold an airman medical certificate.

Applicability (p96) The FAA is proposing to require that individuals obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating as a prerequisite to operating a small UAS.

International Operations.  The FAA proposes, for the time being, to limit the applicability of proposed part 107 to small UAS operations that are conducted entirely within the United States. The FAA envisions that international operations would be dealt with in a future FAA rulemaking. UAS operations in foreign countries may not take place without the required authorizations and permission of that country

Foreign-Owned Aircraft That Are Ineligible for U.S. Registration. The FAA proposes to limit the scope of this rulemaking to U.S.-registered aircraft.

Moored Balloons, Kites, Amateur Rockets, and Unmanned Free Balloons.  Proposed part 107 would not apply to moored balloons, kites, amateur rockets, and unmanned free balloons. These types of aircraft currently are regulated by the provisions of 14 CFR part 101. Because these aircraft are already incorporated into the NAS through part 101 and because the safety risks associated with these specific aircraft are already mitigated by the regulations of part 101, there is no need to make these aircraft subject to the provisions of proposed part 107.

Enjoy !!

Drone No-Fly Zone for Homeowners

A California-based company is trying to give American homeowners a way to protect their privacy from drones ahead of flight regulations from the federal government. 

NoFlyZone has launched a global database where private residents can register their property as a no-drone fly area.

How it works: residents enter their address in an online database on NoFlyZone.org and create a virtual barrier, or geo-fence, around their property. Drone companies participating in NoFlyZone’s consortium then honor the request for privacy.

In the next 10 years, company CEO Ben Marcus expects drones to be used as commonly as cellphones, but he said the ever-advancing technology comes with legitimate privacy concerns.

“[The Federal Aviation Administration] does a tremendous job of managing safety, but it’s never had privacy as a mandate,” he said. “This is an issue our industry wants to take on and solve using the technology we have available to us rather than regulation.”

The company said seven manufacturers and suppliers — EHANG, DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath, RCFlyMaps and Horizon Hobby — have already agreed to honour requests and create exclusion zones.

“We can be self regulating on this issue,” Marcus said. “We already have the technology to create geofence exclusion zones like the one around White House, but now we’re expanding that technology to private property.”


Read More

Courtesy: UAS Vision


Taking Connectivity to the Next Level @ Internet.org.

The Connectivity Lab at Facebook is developing ways to make affordable Internet access possible in communities around the world. The team is exploring a variety of technologies, including high-altitude long-endurance planes, satellites and lasers.
Hear from Mark Zuckerberg on the challenges and opportunities of a new generation of connectivity platforms. Read the paper
See more @ internet.org

Skycatch partners with one of the largest and most innovative heavy machinery makers, Komatsu.

Komatsu, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy machinery for construction and mining and the first company to commercialize the Autonomous Haul System, announced plans to integrate Skycatch’s autonomous aerial data capture solution into their construction business. First announced at a press release in  Shibuya-ku, Tokyo today, Komatsu’s Smart Construction branch will leverage Skycatch’s fully autonomous UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) solution and sophisticated data analytics tools to operate safer, cheaper, and smarter than ever before.

This partnership is a significant milestone for the global construction industry in moving forward with automation fueled by data.

Read More

Source – Skycatch Blog


The exciting potential for sensors and drones to combat global hunger

January 27

In 2013, I made my first trip to Ethiopia. Knowing a bit about the country’s economic circumstances, I fully expected the grim poverty that I’d later encounter. After all, like millions of Americans, I watched the devastating famine there unfold on television in the 1980s.

At the same time, Ethiopia has made great strides since then. Ethiopia halved the number of its undernourished people from 75 percent to 35 percent in two decades, according to the United Nations. Still, that 35 percent is considerable – the U.N.’s World Food Programme estimates that3.2 million Ethiopians need food relief assistance.

So imagine my surprise when I entered a restroom in a small town outside Addis, the capital, and found sensorized urinals – the kind that self-flush. I don’t normally notice urinals, but in Ethiopia, where electricity and indoor plumbing are unreliable at best, sensorized urinals catch your attention. To find something as relatively advanced as a sensorized machine in a small Ethiopian town doesn’t necessarily say much about the country; but it says a lot about the machine.

In particular, it illustrates the potential of sensors and how they could hold the key to significantly reducing the world’s hunger problem. Sensors are everywhere and in everything, at least in developed nations such as the United States. They’ve revolutionized our mobile phones, and are now powering the next wave of wearable tech devices. Sensors are the reason the automotive industry is poised to deliver a driverless car.

The best thing about sensors, aside from their potential? They’re dirt cheap. The average smartphone holds five to seven sensors that cost about $5 combined. In 2007, an accelerometer, which comes standard in all smartphones today, cost $7 — now it costs less than 50 cents. The steep price decline, which has been in place since the early 1990s, is a function of strong competition in the smartphone arena and the growing number of applications using sensor technology. But nothing mandates that sensors are for smartphones only.

Which brings us back to Ethiopia. Now that you see how cheap sensors are today, the notion that a small, dusty town in Ethiopia can afford a sensorized urinal doesn’t seem all that remarkable. But let’s take this one step further. Sensorized devices are multiplying across every sector of the economy. Heavy industry uses sensors to increase productivity. Airplanes employ sensors in their “fly-by-wire” systems. Physicians can prescribe digestible sensors to monitor and wirelessly transmit biometric data.

According to the Digital Universe report from the International Data Corporation, the total number of “connectable things” – everyday objects that can be linked to the Internet – in the world is around 200 billion. Of those, about 20 billion are actually wired and talking to the Internet right now. They’re able to do so through a network of roughly 50 billion sensors that track, monitor and feed data to those connected devices. And the IDC estimates that by 2020, the number of connected things will increase by 50 percent to 30 billion, while the network of sensors will number in the trillions.

So, what does this have to do with solving the global food crisis? There’s enough food in the world to feed every person on the earth, yet through a combination of inefficiencies, supply-chain obstacles and oppressive government regulation, hundreds of millions of people are undernourished. Indeed, many food shortages arise because of misallocation of information. Suppliers of food are unaware of shortages and unaware of market prices. I’ve heard stories of food rotting on African farms only miles away from desolate starvation.

Equipping food-supply material such as storage containers, warehouses and shelves with sensors allows us to know instantly the moment a shortage exists. And I mean instantly in the literal sense. With sensors, we don’t need to wait for a person to count hundreds of containers to realize that there won’t be enough food for the community –a time-consuming process that too often doesn’t happen anyway. Sensors help remove those layers of inefficiency, shortening data’s transmission chain, skipping potential inhibitors and triggering faster response times.

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DuBravac is the chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association and the author of the book, “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate” (Regnery, 2015). Follow him on Twitter

Courtesy: Washington Post

Germany creates laws for driverless cars

The German transport minister will be laying down legal guidelines for the use of driverless cars on the country’s autobahns.

Alexander Dobrindt said driverless or robot cars would probably become a feature on German roads within a few years, but insisted that some rules needed to be in place first.

He has created a committee including figures from research, industry and politics, to draw up a legal framework that would make it permissible and would like a draft of key points to be ready before the Frankfurt car fair in September.

Current rules do not allow self-drive or robot cars on German roads, because a human being always has to be at the controls, according to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic to which Germany is signed up, along with 72 other countries.

Questions to be clarified include who would be responsible when the car’s computer fails causing an accident, how is a robot car is to be insured and how licences should be regulated?

A few days ago Dobrindt announced he was designating a stretch of Germany’s busy A9 autobahn in Bavaria for testing robot car prototypes.

Director of Unmanned Systems Australia, Mr Phil Swinsburg in Google's 'driverless' car recently.
Director of Unmanned Systems Australia, Mr Phil Swinsburg in Google’s ‘driverless’ car recently.

The German car industry has been working on driverless cars for years and expects the first commercially available models to be introduced by 2020.

But the industry has become nervous about competing technology from Google, leading to a campaign within industry and politics in Germany to remain independent but ahead of the field. Nevertheless, the competition appears to be keeping everyone in the industry on their toes.

Read More

Courtesy The Guardian

See related Articles:

UK pass laws for testing driverless Cars

Googles Driverless Cars

Driverless cars transform safety and mobility





Planting drone to fight deforestation

The drone was designed by a crack team of scientists and researchers assembled by Oxford-based BioCarbon Engineering.

 Thousands of square kilometres of the world’s forests are burned and cut down every day to make room for agricultural zones and new urban developments. But a new drone design may be able to combat industrial deforestation by dispersing seeds from the air and planting up to a billion trees yearly.

The drone – which is among the 39 semi-finalists in this week’s UAE Drones for Good Award – was designed by a crack team of scientists and researchers assembled by Oxford-based BioCarbon Engineering.

The system works in two separate phases. In the first, a drone is used to gather mapping data for use in 3D maps of areas chosen for reforestation. In the second phase, “planting” drones use a pressurised air system to propel biodegradable seedpods to the ground, each containing both germinated seeds and necessary nutrients.

Traditional reforestation techniques are slow and labour intensive. One NGO in Kenya, for example, manages to plant 200 trees a day using a 15-person team, working five hours daily. In contrast, planting drones, each operated by two people, would be able to plant an estimated 36,000 trees a day, at 10 per cent of the current cost. If 50 planting drones were operational, BioCarbon Engineering believes they would have the capacity to plant a billion trees a year.

Former NASA engineer Lauren Fletcher, the founder and CEO of BioCarbon Engineering, told Khaleej Times that the team is already working with a reforestation NGO in the vast Brazilian Amazon.

“They are really looking for us to help them access and restore areas that are farther from access roads and are very hard to get to by traditional hand planting methods,” he said. Fletcher said that planting drones could be of use to mining companies in order to restore areas after they end their operations. “We really want to restore entire ecosystems and think that reducing the cost of projects could really drive investment into rebuilding our global forests and jungle ecosystems,” he added.

Fletcher also expressed his appreciation towards the government of the UAE for encouraging the positive use of drone technologies through the UAE Drones for Good Awards.

“His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has seen both the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide huge positive impact on global scales and that a large prize like this is exactly the mechanism that will inspire and motivate bright people to develop truly creative and innovative ideas,” he said.

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Courtesy Khaleej Times

A drone boost for a Canadian Arctic icebreaker and cargo ship

OTTAWA—Even for the world’s biggest icebreaker, the best way through Arctic ice is to go around it.

There’s an art to navigating an obstacle course of ice floes thick enough to smash a hole in a steel hull.

Experienced seamen know how to suss out the softer spots. They watch for young ice, the spongy white floes that haven’t had several years to compress and harden into an Arctic mariner’s worst nightmare.

In daylight, old hands swear they can see the multi-year ice ahead from its distinct blue colour.

What icebreaker captains crave are leads, the stretches of water that open up between floes when warmer weather or heavy storms fracture swaths of sea ice.

The best way to see those lanes in real time is from the air, which is why Coast Guard icebreakers carry helicopters that fly reconnaissance missions.

As more private vessels take a run at Canada’s Northwest Passage, most radio the Coast Guard for updates on where to find the best leads. When mariners get stuck, they call for an icebreaker to free them, at taxpayer expense.

The Canadian owners of MV Nunavik, a bulk carrier built last year to haul nickel through the Arctic, think they’ve got a better idea.

The MV Nunavik is the world’s largest icebreaker but still needs help to navigate ice in Canada’s North. That’s where drones come in.

They are experimenting with small drones, much like the ones popular with hobby flyers, to give the captain an aerial view of hazards that lie ahead.

Aided by a high-resolution camera mounted on a drone, Nunavik Capt. Randy Rose and his crew steered her into the record books in October, when she became the first bulk carrier to transit the Northwest Passage without an escort.

The vessel carried 23,000 tons of nickel concentrate from Deception Bay, on Hudson Strait, to Bayuquan, a port on China’s Bohai Sea coast, east of Beijing.

At 188.8 metres (619 feet) long, with five cargo holds and three deck cranes, the Nunavik is bigger than any other icebreaker in the world, says Tom Paterson, a senior vice-president of Fednav, Canada’s largest owner of ocean-going, dry-bulk ships.

The Nunavik was built in Japan’s Marine United Corp. shipyards to work a 20-year contract for the Chinese-owned mining company Canadian Royalties Inc.

Read More  Courtesy  The star.com

But this is not the first time for UAVs in the Ice

The Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER has been operating with the Russian Coast Guard for over 18 months in the Arctic Circle.


With an endurance of 6 hours as standard or 10 hours with an external fuel tank for the S100 CAMCOPTER, I am not too sure how long the Li-Po batteries in the small quad copters mentioned in the article above would last in the Arctic Circle !! 5 -10 minutes max .

Police Question BBC re Drone in Davos No-Fly Zone

Three BBC journalists have been questioned by Swiss police for breaching high-level security protocols by using a drone at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month.

The journalists, who are understood to have worked with the BBC’s chief business correspondent Linda Yueh, were briefly detained by Swiss authorities after they launched the unmanned aircraft in a strict no-fly zone.

Security at Davos was extremely tight, with 26 miles of secure fencing, 5,000 Swiss troops, and a 25-mile no-fly zone to protect the 2,500 world leaders, royals and dignitaries in attendance.

The BBC admitted the incident after it was approached by the Guardian on Monday. A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that in Davos during the World Economic Forum a BBC team mistakenly took a drone into a no-fly zone area. Three members of staff were briefly questioned by police and it is still to be determined by the Swiss authorities if the BBC will pay a fine.”

The BBC has used drones to impressive effect recently, including to film the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to mark 70 years since it was liberated by Soviet troops.

Read more

Courtesy The Guardian