The New FAA Drone Law
On Sunday the 15th of February the FAA held a press conference where they finally announced their draft proposals for operating drones in the United States.
The context for this situation is that the USA has been lagging behind many nations when it comes to putting in place legislation for commercial UAV operations. The FAA placed a moratorium on any commercial UAV flights back in 2011. Since then only specialist exemptions have been allowed for government agencies, research institutes and recently a select few commercial operators (less than twenty).
The reasoning for the delay is that the FAA is in charge of the most complex and congested airspace in the world. It has a responsibility to ensure that the skies are safe for all operators. Given the manned aviation interests it is a real surprise to see such progressive and open regulations being presented.
Here are the key points of the proposed new FAA drone law:
- Drone operators will not be required to hold a private or commercial pilots license. Operators will need to undergo a test an approved FAA centre however the process will be much more accessible and affordable than the manned aviation routes.
- A granular system based on aircraft weights – heavier systems pose a greater risk and lighter systems less of a risk.
- No airworthiness requirement – this means that systems will remain comparatively cheap and accessible. Airworthiness is not necessarily suitable for small drones operating in close proximity to the operator.
- Line of sight operations only – flights will only be allowed within line of site initially – however there is scope for making long distance sorties possible. This is likely to remain the case until a proven and capable remote sense and avoid system can be deployed.
- No nighttime flights – flights must be carried out within 30minutes of civil twilight.
There are alot of similarities with the UK’s CAA’s regulations (CAP722 – which is about be refreshed for the sixth time!).
The draft rulemaking outlined by the FAA will now be open to consultation from stakeholders, agencies and the public. Hopefully the new regulations will be in place at the beginning of next year.
You can read the Press Release here:
We recommend following Brendan Schulman on Twitter – he is providing excellent insight to the current FAA drone law process.