Over the weekend the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The framework is designed to maintain flexibility to accommodate today's aviation system and future technological innovations.
The FAA's proposed safety rules are for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rules limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. The rules also address height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits designed to minimize risk to other aircraft as well as people and property on the ground.
Proposed operating limitations include:
- A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.
- The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.
- A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
- A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.
- Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.
- Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).
The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at www.regulations.gov. Separate from this proposal, the FAA intends to hold public meetings to discuss innovation and opportunities at the test sites and Center of Excellence. These meetings will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.
In addition to this proposal, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections for the Federal Government’s use of UAS in the national airspace system which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAS use.