FAA releases preliminary drone guidelines

February 15, 2015 05:00

By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation found it necessary Sunday to prematurely announce plans to take the next step when it comes to commercial UAS (drones) usage.  So what happened to cause the bureaucracy to hastily hold a briefing on the subject over the President’s Day weekend?   Simply put—it was an apparent government snafu!

An FAA Economic Analysis involving UAS was released early on a government website; regulations.gov.  Although quickly taken down, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx decided to make the official announcement that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is about to be issued.

Here are the major points that the rulemaking will address:
  • Flights will be restricted near airports and other off-limits airspace
  • The rules would apply to UAS that weigh under 55 pounds, fly up to 100 MPH and up to 500 above ground level.
  • Initially, flights would only be allowed during daylight hours and within line-of-sight
  • UAS pilots would be required to obtain an “unmanned operator certificate”
  • The UAS’ would not be required to obtain an airworthiness certificate

The rulemaking process will outline a period for public and industry comment as the next step. Also, the White House is formally involved.  President Obama today issued an Executive Order requiring that best practices for UAS be formulated on issues such as privacy, accountability and transparency.

You can be sure that RTDNA will keep on top of this issue, as we have in the past, and will report on continuing developments.

FAA News Release
Proposed Rulemaking Summary
FAA Fact Sheet