Thursday, 2 October 2014

FAA and UAS: Recent developments

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has granted regulatory exemptions to six aerial photo and video production companies to use Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the US National Aerospace System (NAS). In a parallel development, the FAA has been reported to have issued an email to the industry requiring all commercial UAS to bear an aircraft registration number when applying for a regulatory exemption.

Pending special rules, the FAA is currently permitting the use of civil UAS in the NAS only upon issuance of a regulatory exemption from the general rules applied to manned civil aircraft. Such exemption is called Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) and is foreseen by Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

The Hollywood filming industry had applied for COAs on the grounds that the UAS it uses operate in limited private spaces, away from the public and always within the Line of Sight (LOS) of the person operating them, who holds a private pilot license. The FAA examined the application and granted the exemptions, adding that the UAS will not be allowed to operate at night and requiring an inspection of the aircraft before each flight.

At the same time, the FAA issued an e-mail to all operators of UAS, both private entities and public authorities (with the exception of the US Armed Forces), that the UAS must have been registered in the US aircraft registry before applying for a COA. Current holders of a COA must register their UAS within 90 days from the receipt of the e-mail. The registration number must be painted on the UAS or affixed by any other means ensuring a similar degree of permanence. For small UAS the owner or operator may propose an alternative marking procedure to the FAA.

You can find more information on the FAA and UAS here.

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