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Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Commercial UAS Cleared for Takeoff by FAA

Comprehensive regulations for routine non-recreational use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have been announced by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA).

The provisions of the new rule – formally known as Part 107 – are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground.

The FAA has put several processes in place to help take advantage of the rule.

  • Waivers: If your proposed operation doesn’t quite comply with Part 107 regulations, you’ll need to apply for a waiver of some restrictions. You’ll have to prove the proposed flight will be conducted safely under a waiver. Users must apply for these waivers at the online portal located at www.faa.gov/UAS
  • Airspace Authorization: You can fly your drone in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace without air traffic control authorization, but operations in any other airspace need air traffic approval. You must request access to controlled airspace via the electronic portal at www.faa.gov/UAS, not from individual air traffic facilities.

You may submit your requests now, FAA said, but air traffic facilities will receive approved authorizations according to the following tentative schedule:

  • Class D & E Surface Area    October 3, 2016
  • Class C    October 31, 2016
  • Class B     December 5, 2016

“We will try to approve requests as soon as possible, but the actual time will varydepending on the complexity of an individual request and the volume of applications we receive,” the FAA said, noting, “You should submit a request at least 90 days before you intend to fly in controlled airspace.

Aeronautical knowledge testing centers nationwide can now administer the Aeronautical Knowledge Test required under Part 107. After you pass the test, you must complete an FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application to receive your remote pilot certificate at: https://iacra.faa.gov/IACRA/Default.aspx

FAA said, “It may take up to 48 hours for the website to record you passed the test. We expect to validate applications within 10 days. You will then receive instructions for printing a temporary airman certificate, which is good for 120 days. We will mail you a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate within 120 days.”

“The new regulations don’t apply to model aircraft operations that meet 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,” the FAA said.

‘With regulations governing civil and commercial operations of unmanned aircraft systems now in effect, more businesses and innovators are poised to take flight and unlock the tremendous economic benefits of the technology, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) President and CEO Brian Wynne said at a press conference this week.

Wynne joined Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to mark the “historic moment that has opened up the US skies to more commercial UAS.”

“The United States has been a pioneer in aviation since the Wright Brothers first took to the skies more than 100 years ago,” Wynne said. “Today we’ve reached another significant milestone. With the small UAS rule now in effect, the commercial drone industry is cleared for takeoff.”

Wynne added that the UAS industry is poised to be one of the fastest-growing in American history. AUVSI’s economic report has forecasted that the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the economy in the first decade following UAS integration into the national airspace.

“The small UAS rule establishes a clear regulatory framework and helps to reduce many barriers to civil and commercial operations,” Wynne said. “In reducing those barriers, the rule allows businesses and innovators to harness the tremendous potential of UAS and unlock the many economic and societal benefits the technology offers.”

Wynne pointed to the flood of exemption requests the FAA has received as strong evidence that the commercial UAS market is poised for incredible growth. In Sept. 2014, the FAA started granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS applications under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

AUVSI said it “analyzed the more than 5,500 exemptions approved by the FAA before the small UAS rule went into effect,” and that “the results highlight both the wide number of industries adopting the technology, as well as foreshadow the exciting potential of the industry.”

Specifically, AUVSI’s report found:

  • Approved exemptions cover 42 types of business operations. Aerial photography was the most popular with companies noting this application 4,594 times. Real estate was the next most popular, with operators requesting this application 3,274 times, followed by aerial inspection at 2,976.
  • Exemptions were approved for operators in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. California received the most with 639, followed by Florida with 571 and Texas with 468.
  • Most commercial UAS operators are small businesses. About 90 percent of the operators and companies receiving exemptions make less than $1 million in annual revenue and have fewer than 10 employees.

AUVSI said, “There is still work to be done in order for businesses to take full advantage of UAS technology, and the UAS industry continues to look toward the future to make full UAS integration a reality. In August, the AUVSI Foundation partnered with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for a workshop on drones and the future of aviation. A report on insights from the government, academic and industry representatives who participated in the workshop is expected to be released soon.”

“We look forward to continued industry-government collaboration that advances UAS research and paves the way for a true, holistic plan for full UAS integration, including beyond line of sight operations, flights over people, access to higher altitudes and platforms above 55 pounds,” Wynne said.

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