FAA Builds Reasonable, Flexible UAS Framework
On June 21, the FAA announced the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). The rule, which has since been published in the Federal Register, establishes 14 CFR part 107 to govern the broad category of aircraft commonly referred to as “drones.” Through its first effort at such oversight, the agency effectively established a limited framework within which to regulate operations.
In 2015, ARSA submitted comments to the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), adding its voice to thousands of others – 4,665 total – with an interest in UAS regulation. Efforts to integrate the aircraft into the national air space draw considerable attention from Congress and general public, with potential applications in everything from retail shopping to real estate.
ARSA’s comments implored the agency to restrain its certification and oversight responsibility. “In regulating [small UAS] and, eventually, all UAS operations, the FAA cannot afford to divert attention from its existing oversight responsibilities,” the association’s submission said. “Additionally, the agency must limit burden on small businesses and prevent obstruction of the fast-moving market for emerging unmanned technologies.”
In response, the final rule creates a basic structure for UAS operations but allows for considerable flexibility and limits burdens on both the FAA and the public. Individual users may obtain waivers from operational restrictions by approval of the administrator. The agency limited any “undue burden” on both itself and industry by exempting sUAS from airworthiness certification.
This is a significant first step in controlling the use of sUAS by serious aviators and the general public. The aviation industry has long been a small community of knowledgeable certificate holders and aviation safety inspectors carrying the responsibility for air safety. The comparatively simple requirements for sUAS represent acknowledgement of the new challenge posed by having the general population – as it will be in most sUAS users – as both operator and maintenance provider.
To review the final rule, click here.
Previously from ARSA...
April 29, 2015
On April 23, ARSA submitted comments to the FAA’s proposed rule regarding its control of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The association added its voice to the thousands who provided guidance to the agency in its pursuit of new regulations to oversee the use of the vehicles commonly referred to as “drones.”
While its comments recognized the congressional imperative that the FAA “integrate” UAS into American air space, ARSA expressed concern about the agency’s ability to manage the additional substantive regulatory burden. As guidance for the creation of a final rule, the association encouraged regulators to adhere to three basic principles: properly manage governmental resources, minimize impact on small businesses and refrain from micromanaging the aviation market.
“In regulating [small UAS] and, eventually, all UAS operations, the FAA cannot afford to divert attention from its existing oversight responsibilities,” the association’s submission said. “Additionally, the agency must limit burden on small businesses and prevent obstruction of the fast-moving market for emerging unmanned technologies.”
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill turn their attention to the FAA’s next authorization– the current FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 expires this Fall – ARSA’s comments are part of a broad effort to remind aviation system stakeholders of the many demands placed on the agency. Failing to provide regulators with sufficient resources, particularly while mandating increased oversight, results in administrative delays and ultimately undermines the U.S. aviation industry’s competitiveness.
“Both the aviation community and the flying public depend on the agency to smoothly and efficiently uphold its end of the regulatory bargain,” said Brett Levanto, ARSA’s director of operations. “The emergence of unmanned systems is exciting for the market but shouldn’t become a drag on the businesses already in place because regulators have to funnel their focus away from existing essential responsibilities.”
August 18, 2014
ARSA is always looking to expand its members’ business opportunities. While no one is certain how the FAA will regulate the design, production, operation and maintenance of unmanned aircraft systems, there is no doubt the agency considers them aircraft. In order to occupy certain airspace, it seems that regulators will establish rules for all normal elements of aircraft design, construction, operation (including pilots) and repairs or alterations.
To that end, the association has kept abreast of regulatory developments, including reviewing exemptions, certificates of waiver and authorization (COA) and recently issued FAA guidance. This month ARSA submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FAA, seeking copies of recently-issued COAs issued primarily to public UAS operators. The FAA web site has many such documents available for downloading; however, these were issued prior to 2012 and some of the conditions and limitations have changed to reflect current agency thinking.
The association will remain engaged with the agency as it works to determine how to regulate UAS operations. Will your company build grow into this new market? Tell us about it.
To stay on top of all of the ways ARSA communicates with the FAA on behalf of our members, please visit our ARSA Works page.