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 !!