FAA’s new rules for small unmanned aircraft systems now in effect

Aug. 30, 2016
WASHINGTON, 30 Aug. 2016. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, are now in effect. Provisions of the new rule, Part 107, are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground, FAA officials explain.
WASHINGTON, 30 Aug. 2016. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA's) first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, are now in effect. Provisions of the new rule, Part 107, are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground, FAA officials explain.

“The FAA’s role is to set a flexible framework of safety without impeding innovation,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says. “With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace.”

The regulations, dating back to 21 June 2016, officially took effect Monday, 29 August, and set in place several processes to help UAS users. See the summary online at http://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf.

“People are captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer, and they are already creating business opportunities in this exciting new field,” Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx says. “These new rules are our latest step toward transforming aviation and society with this technology in very profound ways.”

The agency is offering a process to waive some of the rule’s restrictions if an operator demonstrates the proposed flight will be conducted safely under a waiver. Users must apply for waivers online: www.faa.gov/UAS

The FAA is issuing more than 70 waivers today, based on petitions for Section 333 exemptions. These waivers will be posted on 1 September 2016. The majority of the approved waivers were for night operations under Part 107.

Users can operate their unmanned aircraft in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace without air traffic control permission. Operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspace need air traffic approval. Users must request access to controlled airspace at www.faa.gov/UAS.

The FAA will evaluate airspace authorization requests using a phased approach. Operators may submit their requests starting today, but air traffic facilities will receive approved authorizations, if granted, according to the following tentative schedule:

Class D & E Surface Area October 3, 2016

Class C October 31, 2016

Class B December 5, 2016

The FAA will make every effort to approve requests as soon as possible, but the actual processing time will vary, depending on the complexity of an individual request and the volume of applications the FAA receives. The agency is urging users to submit requests at least 90 days before they intend to fly in controlled airspace.

The FAA will use safety data from each phase to ensure appropriate mitigations are in place as small UAS operations are integrated into controlled airspace.

Testing centers nationwide can now administer the Aeronautical Knowledge Test required under Part 107. After an operator passes the test, he or she must complete an FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application to receive a remote pilot certificate at: https://iacra.faa.gov/IACRA/Default.aspx

It may take up to 48 hours for the website to record that the applicant has passed the knowledge test. The FAA expects to validate applications within 10 days. Applicants will then receive instructions for printing a temporary airman certificate, which is good for 120 days. The FAA will mail a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate within 120 days.

In the future, the FAA also will address operations not covered by Part 107 without a waiver, including operations over people, beyond line of sight operations, extended operations, flight in urban areas, and flight at night.

Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft. Model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (which is now codified in part 101), including the stipulation they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Click here for more information on hobby or recreation uses.

Industry insights:

    DroneDeploy officials in San Francisco, California, call the FAA Part 107 ruling “a highly anticipated new regulatory milestone that will make it much easier to use drones commercially, whether you are flying as a service provider or are looking to start your own internal drone operations at an established company.”

    According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

    DroneDeploy Co-founder and CEO Mike Winn comments on the long-anticipated and historic ruling:

    “We had already seen remarkable growth in the commercial drone industry the last few months, and before the Part 107 implementation, the amount of data generated by our users had been doubling every four months. For example, among the newer industries to adopt drones, mining, inspection and oil and gas have been our fastest-growing sectors. We’ve also seen rapidly growing interest in using drones for inspection in insurance, particularly when assessing a claim. One insurance company used a DroneDeploy map to assess a fire at a resort in France, ultimately saving the company €99,985,000 (nearly $111 million USD).

    “In fact, we recently hit a milestone of DroneDeploy customers mapping more than five million acres -- equivalent to the country of Wales -- across 130 countries. Part 107 is the rule many businesses have been waiting for, before beginning to explore or investing further in drone operations. Not only does Part 107 reduce the previous barriers to starting a commercial drone operation, it also makes it easier for large enterprises to scale their drone activities with more pilots, more efficient use of personnel and fewer regulatory hurdles.

    “We are extremely optimistic that today’s FAA changes will not only accelerate U.S. commercial drone adoption, but could also positively influence other nations where drones are being leveraged for business.”

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