1 United States

13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white. There is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, 5-pointed stars arranged in 9 offset horizontal rows of 6 stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of 5 stars. The 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Blue stands for loyalty, devotion, truth, justice, and friendship, red symbolizes courage, zeal, and fervency, while white denotes purity and rectitude of conduct. Commonly referred to by its nickname of Old Glory.

Flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Google Earth

Stalactites and stalagmites, made of travertine, can be seen on the Frozen Niagara tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Travertine, or traveling stone, is made of limestone that has crystalized out of dripping water.

Photo Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

The United States is a member of ICAO and JARUS.
Last updated on June 25, 2024

Government

According to Britannica, the Constitution of the United States, written to redress the deficiencies of the country’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (1781-89), defines a federal system of government in which certain powers are delegated to the national government and others are reserved to the states. The national government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches that are designed to ensure, through separation of powers and through checks and balances, that no one branch of government is able to subordinate the other two branches. All three branches are interrelated, each with overlapping yet quite distinct authority.

The US Constitution, the world’s oldest written national constitution still in effect, was officially ratified on June 21, 1788 (when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document), and formally entered into force on March 4, 1789, when George Washington was sworn in as the country’s first president. Although the Constitution contains several specific provisions (such as age and residency requirements for holders of federal offices and powers granted to Congress), it is vague in many areas and could not have comprehensively addressed the complex myriad of issues (e.g., historical, technological, etc.) that have arisen in the centuries since its ratification. Thus, the Constitution is considered a living document, its meaning changing over time as a result of new interpretations of its provisions. In addition, the framers allowed for changes to the document, outlining in Article V the procedures required to amend the Constitution. Amending the Constitution requires a proposal by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress or by a national convention called for at the request of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in as many states.

In the more than two centuries since the Constitution’s ratification, there have been 27 amendments. All successful amendments have been proposed by Congress, and all but one, the Twenty-First Amendment (1933), which repealed Prohibition, have been ratified by state legislatures. The first 10 amendments, proposed by Congress in September 1789 and adopted in 1791, are known collectively as the Bill of Rights, which places limits on the federal government’s power to curtail individual freedoms.

The First Amendment, for example, provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Though the First Amendment’s language appears absolute, it has been interpreted to mean that the federal government (and later the state governments) cannot place undue restrictions on individual liberties but can regulate speech, religion, and other rights.

The First Amendment provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Presidential Memorandum: Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems – 2015

Secure Your Drone: Privacy and Data Protection Guidance – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed this guidance to equip drone users and stakeholders with recommendations to protect their data and minimize privacy risks before, during, and after flying their drone. The guidance also includes an overview of the connected components of a drone – components that gather and communicate information via the internet or Bluetooth and are vulnerable to exploitation. Lastly, the guidance points to additional tools and resources, such as cybersecurity best practices, FAA information, and reporting recommendations.- 2023

 

The Second and Third amendments, which, respectively, guarantee the people’s right to bear arms and limit the quartering of soldiers in private houses, reflect the hostility of the framers to standing armies.

 

The Fourth through Eighth amendments establish the rights of the criminally accused, including safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures, protection from double jeopardy (being tried twice for the same offense), the right to refuse to testify against oneself, and the right to a trial by jury.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. The government may not conduct any searches without a warrant, and such warrants must be issued by a judge and based on probable cause. This right is infringed upon when the government invades an area where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. According to the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS), your home is reasonable per Silverman v. US. Over the years judges have deemed that law enforcement personnel may not need to obtain a warrant in the case of emergency or exigent circumstances where people may be hurt or evidence may be destroyed. Also, to name a few others, a warrant is unnecessary:
(1) if a person who has authority over the area voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently gives consent to the search;
(2) when the search is incident to a lawful arrest;
(3) when law enforcement has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity they can stop and frisk;
(4) when law enforcement is lawfully in a location and sees it in plain view; and
(5) in an automobile if law enforcement has probable cause.
If law enforcement obtains evidence unlawfully, it is considered fruit of the poisonous tree, and is excluded from court. In Florida v. Riley and California v. Ciraolo the SCOTUS held that aerial surveillance of private homes and its curtilage (the immediate surrounding area) was not a search. And in Dow Chemical Co. v. US the SCOTUS held that aerial surveillance of a business property was not a search. SCOTUS held the opposite was true in Kyllo v. US because the government employed an uncommonly used device! In US v. Jones, the SCOTUS applied the same logic to GPS and in Carpenter v. US, to cell site location information. The opposite is true however when we voluntarily consent to providing said information to third party providers, according to Smith v. Maryland.

 

The Ninth and Tenth amendments underscore the general rights of the people. The Ninth Amendment protects the unenumerated residual rights of the people (i.e., those not explicitly granted in the Constitution), and the Tenth Amendment reserves to the states or to the people those powers not delegated to the US nor denied to the states.

The guarantees of the Bill of Rights are steeped in controversy, and debate continues over the limits that the federal government may appropriately place on individuals. One source of conflict has been the ambiguity in the wording of many of the Constitution’s provisions, such as the Second Amendment’s right “to keep and bear arms” and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Also problematic is the Tenth Amendment’s apparent contradiction of the body of the Constitution; Article I, Section 8, enumerates the powers of Congress but also allows that it may make all laws “which shall be necessary and proper,” while the Tenth Amendment stipulates that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The distinction between what powers should be left to the states or to the people and what is a necessary and proper law for Congress to pass has not always been clear.

Between the ratification of the Bill of Rights and the American Civil War (1861–65), only two amendments were passed, and both were technical in nature. The Eleventh Amendment (1795) forbade suits against the states in federal courts, and the Twelfth Amendment (1804) corrected a constitutional error that came to light in the presidential election of 1800, when Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each won 73 electors because electors were unable to cast separate ballots for president and vice president. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments were passed in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Thirteenth (1865) abolished slavery, while the Fifteenth (1870) forbade denial of the right to vote to formerly enslaved men. The Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship rights to formerly enslaved people and guaranteed to every citizen due process and equal protection of the laws, was regarded for a while by the courts as limiting itself to the protection of formerly enslaved people, but it has since been used to extend protections to all citizens. Initially, the Bill of Rights applied solely to the federal government and not to the states. In the 20th century, however, many (though not all) of the provisions of the Bill of Rights were extended by the Supreme Court through the Fourteenth Amendment to protect individuals from encroachments by the states.

Notable amendments since the Civil War include the Sixteenth (1913), which enabled the imposition of a federal income tax; the Seventeenth (1913), which provided for the direct election of US senators; the Nineteenth (1920), which established woman suffrage; the Twenty-fifth (1967), which established succession to the presidency and vice presidency; and the Twenty-sixth (1971), which extended voting rights to all citizens 18 years of age or older.

The executive branch is headed by the president, who must be a natural-born citizen of the US, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the country for at least 14 years. A president is elected indirectly by the people through the Electoral College system to a four-year term and is limited to two elected terms of office by the Twenty-second Amendment (1951). The president’s official residence and office is the White House, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. in Washington, D.C. The formal constitutional responsibilities vested in the presidency of the US include serving as commander in chief of the armed forces; negotiating treaties; appointing federal judges, ambassadors, and cabinet officials; and acting as head of state. In practice, presidential powers have expanded to include drafting legislation, formulating foreign policy, conducting personal diplomacy, and leading the president’s political party.

The members of the president’s cabinet, the attorney general and the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Education, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, are appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate; although they are described in the Twenty-fifth Amendment as “the principal officers of the executive departments,” significant power has flowed to non-cabinet-level presidential aides, such as those serving in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Council of Economic Advisers, the National Security Council (NSC), and the office of the White House Chief of Staff; cabinet-level rank may be conferred to the heads of such institutions at the discretion of the president. Members of the cabinet and presidential aides serve at the pleasure of the president and may be dismissed by him at any time.

The executive branch also includes independent regulatory agencies such as the Federal Reserve System and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Governed by commissions appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate (commissioners may not be removed by the president), these agencies protect the public interest by enforcing rules and resolving disputes over federal regulations. Also part of the executive branch are government corporations (e.g., the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation [Amtrak], and the US Postal Service), which supply services to consumers that could be provided by private corporations, and independent executive agencies (e.g., the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), which comprise the remainder of the federal government.

The US Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Powers granted to Congress under the Constitution include the power to levy taxes, borrow money, regulate interstate commerce, impeach and convict the president, declare war, discipline its own membership, and determine its rules of procedure.

With the exception of revenue bills, which must originate in the House of Representatives, legislative bills may be introduced in and amended by either house, and a bill, with its amendments, must pass both houses in identical form and be signed by the president before it becomes law. The president may veto a bill, but a veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses. The House of Representatives may impeach a president or another public official by a majority vote; trials of impeached officials are conducted by the Senate, and a two-thirds majority is necessary to convict and remove the individual from office. Congress is assisted in its duties by the General Accounting Office (GAO), which examines all federal receipts and expenditures by auditing federal programs and assessing the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, and by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a legislative counterpart to the OMB, which assesses budget data, analyzes the fiscal impact of alternative policies, and makes economic forecasts.

The House of Representatives is chosen by the direct vote of the electorate in single-member districts in each state. The number of representatives allotted to each state is based on its population as determined by a decennial census; states sometimes gain or lose seats, depending on population shifts. The overall membership of the House has been 435 since the 1910s, though it was temporarily expanded to 437 after Hawaii and Alaska were admitted as states in 1959. Members must be at least 25 years old, residents of the states from which they are elected, and previously citizens of the United States for at least seven years. It has become a practical imperative, though not a constitutional requirement, that a member be an inhabitant of the district that elects him. Members serve two-year terms, and there is no limit on the number of terms they may serve. The speaker of the House, who is chosen by the majority party, presides over debate, appoints members of select and conference committees, and performs other important duties; he is second in the line of presidential succession (following the vice president). The parliamentary leaders of the two main parties are the majority floor leader and the minority floor leader. The floor leaders are assisted by party whips, who are responsible for maintaining contact between the leadership and the members of the House. Bills introduced by members in the House of Representatives are received by standing committees, which can amend, expedite, delay, or kill legislation. Each committee is chaired by a member of the majority party, who traditionally attained this position on the basis of seniority, though the importance of seniority has eroded somewhat since the 1970s. Among the most important committees are those on Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Rules. The Rules Committee, for example, has significant power to determine which bills will be brought to the floor of the House for consideration and whether amendments will be allowed on a bill when it is debated by the entire House.

Each state elects two senators at large. Senators must be at least 30 years old, residents of the state from which they are elected, and previously citizens of the United States for at least nine years. They serve six-year terms, which are arranged so that one-third of the Senate is elected every two years. Senators also are not subject to term limits. The vice president serves as president of the Senate, casting a vote only in the case of a tie, and in his absence the Senate is chaired by a president pro tempore, who is elected by the Senate and is third in the line of succession to the presidency. Among the Senate’s most prominent standing committees are those on Foreign Relations, Finance, Appropriations, and Governmental Affairs. Debate is almost unlimited and may be used to delay a vote on a bill indefinitely. Such a delay, known as a filibuster, can be ended by three-fifths of the Senate through a procedure called cloture. Treaties negotiated by the president with other governments must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. The Senate also has the power to confirm or reject presidentially appointed federal judges, ambassadors, and cabinet officials.

The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of the United States, which interprets the Constitution and federal legislation. The Supreme Court consists of nine justices (including a chief justice) appointed to life terms by the president with the consent of the Senate. It has appellate jurisdiction over the lower federal courts and over state courts if a federal question is involved. It also has original jurisdiction (i.e., it serves as a trial court) in cases involving foreign ambassadors, ministers, and consuls and in cases to which a US state is a party.

Most cases reach the Supreme Court through its appellate jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act of 1925 provided the justices with the sole discretion to determine their caseload. In order to issue a writ of certiorari, which grants a court hearing to a case, at least four justices must agree (the “Rule of Four”). Three types of cases commonly reach the Supreme Court: cases involving litigants of different states, cases involving the interpretation of federal law, and cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The court can take official action with as few as six judges joining in deliberation, and a majority vote of the entire court is decisive; a tie vote sustains a lower-court decision. The official decision of the court is often supplemented by concurring opinions from justices who support the majority decision and dissenting opinions from justices who oppose it.

Because the Constitution is vague and ambiguous in many places, it is often possible for critics to fault the Supreme Court for misinterpreting it. In the 1930s, for example, the Republican-dominated court was criticized for overturning much of the New Deal legislation of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the area of civil rights, the court has received criticism from various groups at different times. Its 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which declared school segregation unconstitutional, was harshly attacked by Southern political leaders, who were later joined by Northern conservatives. A number of decisions involving the pretrial rights of prisoners, including the granting of Miranda rights and the adoption of the exclusionary rule, also came under attack on the ground that the court had made it difficult to convict criminals. On divisive issues such as abortion, affirmative action, school prayer, and flag burning, the court’s decisions have aroused considerable opposition and controversy, with opponents sometimes seeking constitutional amendments to overturn the court’s decisions.

At the lowest level of the federal court system are district courts. Each state has at least one federal district court and at least one federal judge. District judges are appointed to life terms by the president with the consent of the Senate. Appeals from district-court decisions are carried to the US courts of appeals. Losing parties at this level may appeal for a hearing from the Supreme Court. Special courts handle property and contract damage suits against the United States (United States Court of Federal Claims), review customs rulings (United States Court of International Trade), hear complaints by individual taxpayers (United States Tax Court) or veterans (United States Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims), and apply the Uniform Code of Military Justice (United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces).

Because the US Constitution establishes a federal system, the state governments enjoy extensive authority. The Constitution outlines the specific powers granted to the national government and reserves the remainder to the states. However, because of ambiguity in the Constitution and disparate historical interpretations by the federal courts, the powers actually exercised by the states have waxed and waned over time. Beginning in the last decades of the 20th century, for example, decisions by conservative-leaning federal courts, along with a general trend favoring the decentralization of government, increased the power of the states relative to the federal government. In some areas, the authority of the federal and state governments overlap; for example, the state and federal governments both have the power to tax, establish courts, and make and enforce laws. In other areas, such as the regulation of commerce within a state, the establishment of local governments, and action on public health, safety, and morals, the state governments have considerable discretion. The Constitution also denies to the states certain powers; for example, the Constitution forbids states to enter into treaties, to tax imports or exports, or to coin money. States also may not adopt laws that contradict the US Constitution.

The governments of the 50 states have structures closely paralleling those of the federal government. Each state has a governor, a legislature, and a judiciary. Each state also has its own constitution.

Mirroring the US Congress, all state legislatures are bicameral except Nebraska’s, which is unicameral. Most state judicial systems are based upon elected justices of the peace (although in many states this term is not used), above whom are major trial courts, often called district courts, and appellate courts. Each state has its own supreme court. In addition, there are probate courts concerned with wills, estates, and guardianships. Most state judges are elected, though some states use an appointment process similar to the federal courts and some use a nonpartisan selection process known as the Missouri Plan.

State governors are directly elected and serve varying terms (generally ranging from two to four years); in some states, the number of terms a governor may serve is limited. The powers of governors also vary, with some state constitutions ceding substantial authority to the chief executive (such as appointment and budgetary powers and the authority to veto legislation). In a few states, however, governors have highly circumscribed authority, with the constitution denying them the power to veto legislative bills.

Most states have a lieutenant governor, who is often elected independently of the governor and is sometimes not a member of the governor’s party. Lieutenant governors generally serve as the presiding officer of the state Senate. Other elected officials commonly include a secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction.

State governments have a wide array of functions, encompassing conservation, highway and motor vehicle supervision, public safety and corrections, professional licensing, regulation of agriculture and of intrastate business and industry, and certain aspects of education, public health, and welfare. The administrative departments that oversee these activities are headed by the governor.

Each state may establish local governments to assist it in carrying out its constitutional powers. Local governments exercise only those powers that are granted to them by the states, and a state may redefine the role and authority of local government as it deems appropriate. The country has a long tradition of local democracy (e.g., the town meeting), and even some of the smallest areas have their own governments. There are some 85,000 local government units in the United States. The largest local government unit is the county (called a parish in Louisiana or a borough in Alaska). Counties range in population from as few as 100 people to millions (e.g., Los Angeles county). They often provide local services in rural areas and are responsible for law enforcement and keeping vital records. Smaller units include townships, villages, school districts, and special districts (e.g., housing authorities, conservation districts, and water authorities).

Municipal, or city, governments are responsible for delivering most local services, particularly in urban areas. At the beginning of the 21st century there were some 20,000 municipal governments in the United States. They are more diverse in structure than state governments. There are three basic types: mayor-council, commission, and council-manager governments. The mayor-council form, which is used in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and thousands of smaller cities, consists of an elected mayor and council. The power of mayors and councils vary from city to city; in most cities the mayor has limited powers and serves largely as a ceremonial leader, but in some cities (particularly large urban areas) the council is nominally responsible for formulating city ordinances, which the mayor enforces, but the mayor often controls the actions of the council. In the commission type, used less frequently now than it was in the early 20th century, voters elect a number of commissioners, each of whom serves as head of a city department; the presiding commissioner is generally the mayor. In the council-manager type, used in large cities such as Charlotte (North Carolina), Dallas (Texas), Phoenix (Arizona), and San Diego (California), an elected council hires a city manager to administer the city departments. The mayor, elected by the council, simply chairs the council and officiates at important functions.

As society has become increasingly urban, politics and government have become more complex. Many problems of the cities, including transportation, housing, education, health, and welfare, can no longer be handled entirely on the local level. Because even the states do not have the necessary resources, cities have often turned to the federal government for assistance, though proponents of local control have urged that the federal government provide block-grant aid to state and local governments without federal restrictions.

The framers of the US Constitution focused their efforts primarily on the role, power, and function of the state and national governments, only briefly addressing the political and electoral process. Indeed, three of the Constitution’s four references to the election of public officials left the details to be determined by Congress or the states. The fourth reference, in Article II, Section 1, prescribed the role of the Electoral College in choosing the president, but this section was soon amended (in 1804 by the Twelfth Amendment) to remedy the technical defects that had arisen in 1800, when all Democratic-Republican Party electors cast their votes for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, thereby creating a tie because electors were unable to differentiate between their presidential and vice presidential choices. (The election of 1800 was finally settled by Congress, which selected Jefferson president following 36 ballots.)

In establishing the Electoral College, the framers stipulated that “Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.” In 1845 Congress established that presidential electors would be appointed on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; the electors cast their ballots on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December. Article I, establishing Congress, merely provides (Section 2) that representatives are to be “chosen every second Year by the People of the several States” and that voting qualifications are to be the same for Congress as for the “most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” Initially, senators were chosen by their respective state legislatures (Section 3), though this was changed to popular election by the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913. Section 4 leaves to the states the prescription of the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives” but gives Congress the power “at any time by Law [to] make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.” In 1875 Congress designated the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even years as federal election day.

This table below summarizes the three branches of US Government

Executive branch Legislative branch Judicial branch
POTUS issues:

Executive Orders

Presidential Memoranda

Proclamations

Published in Federal Register

2 chambers – house and senate

House – 435 members elected

Senate 100 members elected

Several committees and subcommittees perform the work creating bills that become law

SCOTUS – supreme law of the land

Courts of Appeal (13)

Federal District Courts (94)

 

US Constitution Article II Section 3 US Constitution Article I US Constitution Article III Section 1

Civil / National Aviation Authority (CAA/NAA)

The CAA/NAA for the US is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

You may find a brief history of the FAA quite fascinating!

The FAA provides air traffic services for the NAS.

The FAA has a Dynamic Regulatory System which is a comprehensive knowledge center of regulatory and guidance material from the Office of Aviation Safety and other Services and Offices.

 

 

The FAA has the authority to create a comprehensive regulatory system governing the safe and efficient management of UAS and AAM operations, including non-commercial operations at ground-level altitudes, above private property, and within state boundaries following the laws Congress has passed under its Constitutional Commerce Clause powers.

In addition, following the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the state and local laws affecting the field of aviation safety and the efficient use of airspace are federally preempted, (FAA Office of the Chief Counsel, State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems UAS Fact Sheet), although non-federal government entities may still issue specific laws pertaining to UAS that do not touch this federally preempted field.

The US DOT has communicated it is the FAA’s “long-held position that . . . [FAA] has the responsibility to regulate aviation safety and the efficiency of the airspace within the navigable airspace, which may extend down to the ground.” This authority and responsibility to regulate all aircraft operations down to the ground are based in part on 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(1), from Congress’s Air Commerce Act of 1926 legislation enacted in the context of crewed aircraft. As currently codified, that provision authorizes the FAA to regulate “the use of the navigable airspace . . . to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of [that] airspace,” and “navigable airspace” is defined as the airspace above minimum safe flight altitudes prescribed by FAA regulations.

Although the FAA has not issued regulations prescribing minimum safe flight altitudes for UAS or AAM, DOT officials have told the Government Accountability Office in interviews, “It is the Department’s stance that, for purposes of the definition of the term navigable airspace, zero feet (‘the blades of grass’) is the minimum altitude of flight for UAS.” (Government Accountability Office, 2020.) UAS operations at ground level also are supported by 49 U.S.C. § 44701(a)(5) which directs the FAA to issue “air commerce” safety regulations. The officials noted that because “air commerce,” in contrast to “navigable airspace,” is not defined by a minimum altitude, FAA may regulate UAS and other “aircraft” in the stream of interstate commerce even when they are on the ground. Support also comes from 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(2), which among other things directs FAA to issue air traffic regulations for “protecting individuals and property on the ground.”

The FAA points to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, to rule that state and local laws affecting the field of aviation safety and the efficient use of airspace are federally preempted although non-federal government entities may still issue laws and ordinances pertaining to UAS and AAM that are not in this preempted category. In particular, according to the FAA, it is responsible for air safety “from the ground up,” including for UAS and AAM operations. In addition, “navigable airspace,” “air commerce,” and “national airspace system” statutes and rules are cited by FAA as supporting its regulation of UAS and AAM operations from the ground up. The agency refers throughout the preamble to one of its UAS rulemakings to the regulation of UAS operations now as in the general “airspace of the United States” (Fed. Reg. 72438 (Dec. 31, 2019).

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 – established that “the FAA, was passed by Congress for the purpose of centralizing in a single authority the power to frame rules for the safe and efficient use of the nation’s air space.”

Federal code 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(5) allows the FAA to prescribe regulations and minimum standards necessary for safety in air commerce and national security,” and this allowance leaves “some room for state and local UAS laws, albeit recommending that state authorities first consult federal aviation authorities in such matters.” Jurisprudence on the Federal Aviation Act shows that where there are pervasive regulations in an area, the Federal Aviation Act preempts all state claims in that area, particularly air safety.

 

Airspace

ICAO countries publish an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). This document is divided into three parts: General (GEN), En Route (ENR) and Aerodromes (AD). ENR 1.4 details the types of airspace classes they chose to adopt from classes A through G.

The airspace over the USA, per ENR 1.4, contains the following two categories of airspace or airspace areas:

(1) Regulatory (Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, restricted, and prohibited areas) and

(2) Non regulatory (military operations areas (MOAs), warning areas, alert areas, controlled firing areas (CFAs), and National Security Areas (NSAs).

Within these two categories there are four types:

(1) Controlled (A, B, C, D, E);

(2) Uncontrolled (G);

(3) Special Use; and

(4) Other airspace.

The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK), Chapter 15 explains in more detail.

US Airspace Classification

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

 

Controlled Airspace

Class A Airspace

Generally the airspace from 18,000 feet MSL up to and including flight level (FL) 600, including the airspace overlying the waters within 12 nautical miles (NM) of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska.

Unless otherwise authorized, all operation in Class A airspace is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Class B Airspace

Generally airspace from the surface to 10,000 feet MSL surrounding the nation’s busiest airports in terms of airport operations or passenger enplanements.

The configuration of each Class B airspace area is individually tailored, consists of a surface area and two or more layers (some Class B airspace areas resemble upside-down wedding cakes), and is designed to contain all published instrument procedures once an aircraft enters the airspace.

ATC clearance is required for all aircraft to operate in the area, and all aircraft that are so cleared receive separation services within the airspace.

Class C Airspace

Generally airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower, are serviced by a radar approach control, and have a certain number of IFR operations or passenger enplanements.

Although the configuration of each Class C area is individually tailored, the airspace usually consists of a surface area with a five NM radius, an outer circle with a ten NM radius that extends from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation.

Each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter must maintain those communications while within the airspace.

Class D Airspace

Generally airspace from the surface to 2,500 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower.

The configuration of each Class D airspace area is individually tailored and, when instrument procedures are published, the airspace is normally designed to contain the procedures.

Arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures (IAPs) may be Class D or Class E airspace.

Unless otherwise authorized, each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while in the airspace.

Class E Airspace

The controlled airspace not classified as Class A, B, C, or D airspace.

A large amount of the airspace over the United States is designated as Class E airspace.

This provides sufficient airspace for the safe control and separation of aircraft during IFR operations.

Chapter 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) explains the various types of Class E airspace.

Sectional and other charts depict all locations of Class E airspace with bases below 14,500 feet MSL.

In areas where charts do not depict a class E base, class E begins at 14,500 feet MSL.

In most areas, the Class E airspace base is 1,200 feet AGL.

In many other areas, the Class E airspace base is either the surface or 700 feet AGL.

Some Class E airspace begins at an MSL altitude depicted on the charts, instead of an AGL altitude.

Class E airspace typically extends up to, but not including, 18,000 feet MSL (the lower limit of Class A airspace).

All airspace above FL 600 is Class E airspace.

Uncontrolled Airspace

Class G Airspace

Uncontrolled airspace or Class G airspace is the portion of the airspace that has not been designated as Class A, B, C, D, or E.

It is therefore designated uncontrolled airspace.

Class G airspace extends from the surface to the base of the overlying Class E airspace.

Although ATC has no authority or responsibility to control air traffic, pilots should remember there are visual flight rules (VFR) minimums that apply to Class G airspace.

Special Use Airspace

Special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO) is the designation for airspace in which certain activities must be confined, or where limitations may be imposed on aircraft operations that are not part of those activities.

Certain special use airspace areas can create limitations on the mixed use of airspace.

The special use airspace depicted on instrument charts includes the area name or number, effective altitude, time and weather conditions of operation, the controlling agency, and the chart panel location.

On National Aeronautical Charting Group (NACG) en route charts, this information is available on one of the end panels.

Special use airspace usually consists of:

• Prohibited areas

• Restricted areas

• Warning areas

• Military operation areas (MOAs)

• Alert areas

• Controlled firing areas (CFAs)

Prohibited Areas

Contain airspace of defined dimensions within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited.

Such areas are established for security or other reasons associated with the national welfare.

These areas are published in the Federal Register and are depicted on aeronautical charts.

The area is charted as a “P” followed by a number (e.g., P-40).

Examples of prohibited areas include Camp David and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the White House and the Congressional buildings are located.

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

Restricted Areas

Areas where operations are hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft and contain airspace within which the flight of aircraft, while not wholly prohibited, is subject to restrictions.

Activities within these areas must be confined because of their nature, or limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities, or both.

Restricted areas denote the existence of unusual, often invisible, hazards to aircraft (e.g., artillery firing, aerial gunnery, or guided missiles).

IFR flights may be authorized to transit the airspace and are routed accordingly.

Penetration of restricted areas without authorization from the using or controlling agency may be extremely hazardous to the aircraft and its occupants.

ATC facilities apply the following procedures when aircraft are operating on an IFR clearance (including those cleared by ATC to maintain VFR on top) via a route that lies within joint-use restricted airspace:

1. If the restricted area is not active and has been released to the FAA, the ATC facility allows the aircraft to operate in the restricted airspace without issuing specific clearance for it to do so.

2. If the restricted area is active and has not been released to the FAA, the ATC facility issues a clearance that ensures the aircraft avoids the restricted airspace.

Restricted areas are charted with an “R” followed by a number (e.g., R-4401) and are depicted on the en route chart appropriate for use at the altitude or FL being flown.

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

FAA Restricted Airspace – Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA)

The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area (DC SFRA) is roughly a circular area with a 30 nautical mile (about 33 statute miles) radius around Washington, D.C., and surrounds the Flight-Restricted Zone (FRZ). The Leesburg Executive Airport is located on the boundary of the SFRA. The Leesburg Maneuvering Area was developed to ease access into and out of Leesburg airport. The current Code of Federal Regulations detail proper procedures to access the area. Flight exercise operations at non-controlled tower airports within the SFRA (but not within the DC FRZ) must be conducted in accordance with 14 CFR section 93.339 (C).

There are a number of requirements for aircraft flying within the SFRA:

  • Pilots must obtain an advanced clearance from FAA air traffic control to fly within, into, or out of the SFRA.
  • Aircraft flying within the SFRA must have an altitude-encoding transponder and it must be operating.
  • FAA air traffic control must assign a four-digit number that identifies the aircraft by call sign or registration number when it gives a pilot clearance to fly in the SFRA.
  • While flying within the SFRA, the pilot must be in direct contact with air traffic control unless cleared to the local airport traffic advisory frequency.

The Flight-Restricted Zone (FRZ) extends approximately 15 nautical miles (about 17 statute miles) around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The airport is located in Arlington County, VA, four miles from downtown Washington, D.C.  The FRZ has been in effect since September 11, 2001.

The only non-governmental flights allowed within the FRZ without a waiver are scheduled commercial flights into and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Airlines operating charter flights that support the U.S. government may land at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airports without a waiver and under certain conditions per FDC NOTAM 8/3032.

Certain general aviation flights may be authorized to fly within the FRZ.

Waiver applications and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorizations

Pilots who have been vetted by the TSA are allowed to fly in and out of the three Maryland general aviation airports. Other commercial air carrier flights can be vectored into the FRZ by air traffic controllers. Some approved news and traffic-reporting aircraft are allowed to operate under certain conditions within the FRZ. Contact TSA Maryland Three Program mdthree@tsa.dhs.gov for any questions.

Prohibited Area 56 (P-56) – P-56A & B – are prohibited areas surrounding the White House, the National Mall, and the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The only aircraft that are allowed to fly within these prohibited areas are specially authorized flights that are in direct support of the U.S. Secret Service, the Office of the President, or one of several government agencies with missions that require air support within P-56. These prohibited areas have been in effect for about 50 years.

P-56A covers approximately the area west of the Lincoln Memorial (Rock Creek Park) to east of the Capitol (Stanton Square) and between Independence Avenue and K Street up to 18,000 feet.

P-56B covers a small circle with a radius of about one nautical mile (about 1.2 statute miles) surrounding the Naval Observatory on Massachusetts Avenue up to 18,000 feet.

Visual Warning System for the SFRA – In some situations, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) uses a warning signal to communicate with pilots who fly into the SFRA or FRZ without authorization. The signal uses highly focused red and green lights in an alternating red/ red/green signal pattern. This signal is directed at specific aircraft suspected of making unauthorized entry into the SFRA/FRZ that are on a heading or flight path that may be interpreted as a threat, or that operate contrary to the operating rules for the SFRA/FRZ.

The beam will not injure the eyes of pilots, aircrews or passengers, regardless of altitude or distance from the source.

If pilots are in communication with air traffic control and this signal is directed at their aircraft, they are advised to immediately tell air traffic control that they are being illuminated by a visual-warning signal. If this signal is directed at a pilot who is not communicating with air traffic control, that pilot should turn to a heading away from the center of the FRZ/SFRA as soon as possible and immediately contact air traffic control on an appropriate frequency. If a pilot is unsure of the frequency, he or she should contact air traffic control on VHF guard frequency 121.5 or UHF guard 243.0.

Failure to follow these procedures may result in interception by military aircraft and/or the use of force. This applies to all aircraft operating within the SFRA, including Department of Defense, law enforcement, and aeromedical operations.

FAASTeam Course ALC-405 – Free course

Drones and Space Launches

 

 

Warning Areas

Similar in nature to restricted areas; however, the US government does not have sole jurisdiction over the airspace.

A warning area is airspace of defined dimensions, extending from 3 NM outward from the coast of the United States, containing activity that may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft.

The purpose of such areas is to warn nonparticipating pilots of the potential danger.

A warning area may be located over domestic or international waters or both.

The airspace is designated with a “W” followed by a number (e.g., W-237).

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

Military Operation Areas (MOAs)

MOAs consist of airspace with defined vertical and lateral limits established for the purpose of separating certain military training activities from IFR traffic.

Whenever an MOA is being used, nonparticipating IFR traffic may be cleared through an MOA if IFR separation can be provided by ATC. Otherwise, ATC reroutes or restricts nonparticipating IFR traffic.

MOAs are depicted on sectional, VFR terminal area, and en route low altitude charts and are not numbered (e.g., “Camden Ridge MOA”).

However, the MOA is also further defined on the back of the sectional charts with times of operation, altitudes affected, and the controlling agency.

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

Alert Areas

Depicted on aeronautical charts with an “A” followed by a number (e.g., A-211) to inform nonparticipating pilots of areas that may contain a high volume of pilot training or an unusual type of aerial activity.

Pilots should exercise caution in alert areas.

All activity within an alert area shall be conducted in accordance with regulations, without waiver, and pilots of participating aircraft, as well as pilots transiting the area, shall be equally responsible for collision avoidance.

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

Controlled Firing Areas (CFAs)

CFAs contain activities that, if not conducted in a controlled environment, could be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft.

The difference between CFAs and other special use airspace is that activities must be suspended when a spotter aircraft, radar, or ground lookout position indicates an aircraft might be approaching the area.

There is no need to chart CFAs since they do not cause a nonparticipating aircraft to change its flight path.

Other Airspace Areas

General term referring to the majority of the remaining airspace.

It includes:

• Local airport advisory (LAA)

• Military training route (MTR)

• Temporary flight restriction (TFR)

• Parachute jump aircraft operations

• Published VFR routes

• Terminal radar service area (TRSA)

• National security area (NSA)

• Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) land and water based and need for Defense VFR (DVFR) flight plan to operate VFR in this airspace

• Intercept Procedures and use of 121.5 for communication if not on ATC already Flight Restricted Zones (FRZ) in vicinity of Capitol and White House

• Special Awareness Training required by 14 CFR 91.161 for pilots to operate VFR within 60 NM of the Washington, DC VOR/DME

• Wildlife Areas/Wilderness Areas/National Parks and request to operate above 2,000 AGL

• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Areas off the coast with requirement to operate above 2,000 AGL

• Tethered Balloons for observation and weather recordings that extend on cables up to 60,000

Local Airport Advisory (LAA)

An advisory service provided by Flight Service Station (FSS) facilities, which are located on the landing airport, using a discrete ground-to-air frequency or the tower frequency when the tower is closed.

LAA services include local airport advisories, automated weather reporting with voice broadcasting, and a continuous Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS)/Automated Weather Observing Station (AWOS) data display, other continuous direct reading instruments, or manual observations available to the specialist.

Military Training Routes (MTRs)

MTRs are routes used by military aircraft to maintain proficiency in tactical flying.

These routes are usually established below 10,000 feet MSL for operations at speeds in excess of 250 knots.

Some route segments may be defined at higher altitudes for purposes of route continuity.

Routes are identified as IFR (IR), and VFR (VR), followed by a number.

MTRs with no segment above 1,500 feet AGL are identified by four number characters (e.g., IR1206, VR1207).

MTRs that include one or more segments above 1,500 feet AGL are identified by three number characters (e.g., IR206, VR207).

IFR low altitude en route charts depict all IR routes and all VR routes that accommodate operations above 1,500 feet AGL.

IR routes are conducted in accordance with IFR regardless of weather conditions.

VFR sectional charts depict military training activities, such as IR, VR, MOA, restricted area, warning area, and alert area information.

Photo from FAA PHAK, Chapter 15

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR)

A flight data center (FDC) Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is issued to designate a TFR.

The NOTAM begins with the phrase “FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS” followed by the location of the temporary restriction, effective time period, area defined in statute miles, and altitudes affected. The NOTAM also contains the FAA coordination facility and telephone number, the reason for the restriction, and any other information deemed appropriate.

The pilot should check the NOTAMs as part of flight planning.

Some of the purposes for establishing a TFR are:

• Protect persons and property in the air or on the surface from an existing or imminent hazard.

• Provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft.

• Prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing aircraft above an incident or event, that may generate a high degree of public interest.

• Protect declared national disasters for humanitarian reasons in the State of Hawaii.

• Protect the President, Vice President, or other public figures.

• Provide a safe environment for space agency operations.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the use of TFRs has become much more common.

There have been a number of incidents of aircraft incursions into TFRs that have resulted in pilots undergoing security investigations and certificate suspensions.

It is a pilot’s responsibility to be aware of TFRs in their proposed area of flight.

One way to check is to visit the FAA website, and verify that there is not a TFR in the area.

Parachute Jump Aircraft Operations

Published in the Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory). Sites that are used frequently are depicted on sectional charts.

Published VFR Routes

For transitioning around, under, or through some complex airspace.

Terms such as VFR flyway, VFR corridor, Class B airspace VFR transition route, and terminal area VFR route have been applied to such routes.

These routes are generally found on VFR terminal area planning charts.

Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSAs)

TRSAs are areas where participating pilots can receive additional radar services.

The purpose of the service is to provide separation between all IFR operations and participating VFR aircraft.

The primary airport(s) within the TRSA become(s) Class D airspace.

The remaining portion of the TRSA overlies other controlled airspace, which is normally Class E airspace beginning at 700 or 1,200 feet and established to transition to/ from the en route/terminal environment.

TRSAs are depicted on VFR sectional charts and terminal area charts with a solid black line and altitudes for each segment.

The Class D portion is charted with a blue segmented line.

Participation in TRSA services is voluntary; however, pilots operating under VFR are encouraged to contact the radar approach control and take advantage of TRSA service.

National Security Areas (NSAs)

NSAs consist of airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security and safety of ground facilities.

Flight in NSAs may be temporarily prohibited by regulation under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 99, and prohibitions are disseminated via NOTAM.

Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through these depicted areas.

 

It is worth noting that the Armed Forces follow Title 10 of the US Code, and military UAS integration occurs with other government departments.

 

This Initial Concept of Operations for an Info-Centric National Airspace System (NAS) is informed by the FAA’s draft vision document, Charting Aviation’s Future: Operations in an Info-Centric National Airspace System. This concept describes future operations in the NAS, with initial capabilities expected to be operational by approximately 2035. It provides a high level description of the integrated future environment.

The Info-Centric NAS Concept of Operations (ConOps) is the Level 1 concept for the enterprise in accordance with the FAA’s Operational Concept Hierarchy. As such, it is broad in scope and describes NAS operations in general terms, serving as the frame of reference for lower-level concepts. As an enterprise level concept, this document provides a description of future operations that aims to be neutral regarding specific technologies and solutions.

This document is expected to be used by NAS stakeholders as a framework to use for the development of lower level ConOps that provide more specific details regarding services, solutions, and capabilities as well as research and development planning. As they are developed, lower level ConOps will trace to this Initial Concept of Operations for an Info-Centric NAS to ensure that they account for future interactions between other new services and capabilities. Readers both internal and external to the FAA, particularly researchers and concept developers, will use this document to understand future NAS operations and the enterprise context of the future environment, operations, participants, and their interactions. The ConOps will facilitate alignment, consistency, interoperability, and technology integration across the NAS.

 

 

History of UAS Laws

In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA) of 2012, PL 112-95. Section 333 of PL 112-95 directed the Secretary of Transportation to determine whether UAS operations posing the least amount of public risk and no threat to national security could safely be operated in the NAS and, if so, to establish requirements for the safe operation of these systems in the NAS.

In 2016, Congress enacted the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act (FESSA) which amended the definition of an SUAS and provided for numerous security, R&D, and usage provisions. It also introduced the concept of remotely identifying operators of UA, as well as gave birth to what we now know as the Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process for expediting approvals for emergency response operations.

As part of its ongoing efforts to integrate UAS operations in the NAS and in accordance with Section 333, in June 2016, the FAA issued a final rule adding part 107, integrating civil small UAS into the NAS. Part 107 allows small UAS operations for many different purposes without requiring airworthiness certification, exemption, or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA).

As of August 2023, Section 2209 of FESSA has not yet been implemented. It is quoted directly below:

SEC. 2209. APPLICATIONS FOR DESIGNATION.

(a) Applications for Designation.

–Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall establish a process to allow applicants to petition the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to prohibit or restrict the operation of an unmanned aircraft in close proximity to a fixed site facility.

(b) Review Process.

— (1) Application procedures.

(A) In general.

–The Administrator shall establish the procedures for the application for designation under subsection (a).

(B) Requirements.

–The procedures shall allow operators or proprietors of fixed site facilities to apply for designation individually or collectively.

(C) Considerations.

–Only the following may be considered fixed site facilities:

(i) Critical infrastructure, such as energy production, transmission, and distribution facilities and equipment.

(ii) Oil refineries and chemical facilities.

(iii) Amusement parks.

(iv) Other locations that warrant such restrictions.

(2) Determination.

(A) In general.

–The Secretary shall provide for a determination under the review process established under subsection (a) not later than 90 days after the date of application, unless the applicant is provided with written notice describing the reason for the delay.

(B) Affirmative designations.–An affirmative designation shall outline–

(i) the boundaries for unmanned aircraft operation near the fixed site facility; and

(ii) such other limitations that the Administrator determines may be appropriate.

(C) Considerations.

–In making a determination whether to grant or deny an application for a designation, the Administrator may consider

(i) aviation safety;

(ii) protection of persons and property on the ground;

(iii) national security; or

(iv) homeland security.

(D) Opportunity for resubmission.

–If an application is denied, and the applicant can reasonably address the reason for the denial, the Administrator may allow the applicant to reapply for designation.

(c) Public Information.

–Designations under subsection (a) shall be published by the Federal Aviation Administration on a publicly accessible website.

(d) Savings Clause.

–Nothing in this section may be construed as prohibiting the Administrator from authorizing operation of an aircraft, including an unmanned aircraft system, over, under, or within a specified distance from that fixed site facility designated under subsection (b).

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 repealed the Special Rule for Model Aircraft of FMRA 2012 and replaced it with the Exception for limited recreational operations; and also repealed Section 333 of FMRA 2012 and replaced it with a risk-based approach under Section 44807.

However, those rules under Part 107 did not permit SUA operations at night or over people without a waiver. On February 13, 2019, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) titled Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems over People, which proposed to modify these regulations to permit routine operations of SUA over people and at night under certain conditions. The FAA received over 900 comments to the NPRM by the closing of the comment period on April 15, 2019. The Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People final rule was the next incremental step towards further integration of UA in the NAS. The final rule allows routine operations over people and routine operations at night under certain circumstances. The rule will eliminate the need for typical operations to receive individual part 107 certificate of waivers from the FAA. The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2021. Corrections to the final rule were published in the Federal Register on March 10, 2021, delaying the effective date from March 16, 2021, to April 21, 2021.

Safety and security are top priorities for the FAA and remote identification (remote ID) of drones is crucial to this integration effort. Remote ID is the ability in flight to provide identification and location information that can be received by other parties. Remote ID helps the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies find the control station when a drone appears to be flying in an unsafe manner or where it is not allowed to fly. Remote ID also lays the foundation of the safety and security groundwork needed for more complex drone operations. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2021, with an original effective date of March 16, 2021. Corrections made to the rule and published in the Federal Register on March 10, 2021, delayed the effective date to April 21, 2021. Almost all the final rule on remote ID became effective April 21, 2021. The subpart covering the process for FRIA applications from community-based organizations and educational institutions became effective September 16, 2022. Drone manufacturers must comply with the final rule’s requirements by September 16, 2022. By September 16, 2023, all drone pilots must meet the operating requirements of 14 CFR Part 89, For most operators, this means flying a Standard Remote ID Drone, equipping with a broadcast module, or flying at a FRIA.

Section 2209 of FESSA was again mentioned in this FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 as shown below:

SEC. 369. APPLICATIONS FOR DESIGNATION.

Section 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (Public Law 114–190; 130 Stat. 615) is amended

(1) in subsection (b)(1)(C)(i), by striking ‘‘and distribution facilities and equipment’’ and inserting ‘‘distribution facilities and equipment, and railroad facilities’’; and

(2) by adding at the end the following: ‘‘(e) DEADLINES.— ‘‘(1) Not later than March 31, 2019, the Administrator shall publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to carry out the requirements of this section. ‘‘(2) Not later than 12 months after publishing the notice of proposed rulemaking under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall issue a final rule.’’.

As of August 2023, no such rule has been issued.

 

In May 2024 – H.R.3935 – Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act was enacted, reauthorizing the FAA through FY2028, including activities and programs related to airport planning and development, facilities and equipment, and operations. The NTSB is also reauthorized through FY2028. The bill also addresses a wide range of issues. For example, the bill

  • directs the FAA to increase air traffic controller hiring targets;
  • establishes a workforce development program to support the education, recruitment, and retention of aviation professionals;
  • establishes an FAA Ombudsman to coordinate the response to submissions of inquiries or objections relating to issues such as aircraft certifications and registrations, pilot certificates, and operational approvals, waivers, or exemptions;
  • raises the commercial airline pilot retirement age to 67 (currently 65);
  • prohibits aircraft dispatchers from working remotely, with limited exceptions for emergencies;
  • requires the DOT to establish standards to ensure the aircraft boarding and deplaning process is accessible for individuals with disabilities, including for individuals who use wheelchairs;
  • requires DOT to establish a policy directing certain air carriers to seat a young child next to an accompanying adult if adjacent seats are available without charging an additional fee;
  • prohibits the FAA from requiring mask wearing or COVID-19 vaccines for passengers, air carrier employees, or FAA employees;
  • requires the FAA to issue rules to update the requirements for testing and operating unmanned aircraft (i.e., drones), including for drones operating beyond the visual line of sight; and
  • requires the FAA to issue rules for certifying pilots for powered-lift aircraft (i.e., capable of vertical takeoff and landing) and operational rules for powered-lift aircraft.

Drone Regulations

The FAADroneZone is the FAA’s official website for managing your drones whether you fly for recreation, education, government, or business. You use this to register, apply for waivers and airspace authorizations, get recognized as a community-based organization, submit an accident report, among other things.

Regulations may be found on the FAA UAS Web Pages.

Penalties, under Administrative Law, for violating these regulations may be found in FAA Order 2150.3 FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program

With respect to drone operator documents, drone operators flying in the NAS are required to show certain documents to law enforcement, the NTSB, the TSA, and the FAA upon request. The rules governing the particular flight and the official making the request determine what documents a drone pilot must present. A recreational flyer operating in accordance with 49 USC § 44809 is required to show their drone registration and proof of TRUST completion to law enforcement upon request. These requirements are listed in 49 USC § 44809 paragraphs (a)(7) and (a)(8). They are not required to show photo identification or airspace authorization to law enforcement. A remote pilot operating in accordance with 14 CFR part 107 must provide their remote pilot certificate, drone registration, and photo identification upon request from law enforcement. These requirements are listed in 14 CFR §107.7.

The FAA recognizes 4 kinds of drone flyer

 

The FAA recognizes 4 kinds of drone flyer:

(1) Recreational

The law requires that all recreational flyers pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of passage if asked by law enforcement or FAA personnel. The Recreational UAS Safety Test, TRUST, was developed to meet this requirement.

(2) Educational

(3) Government and Public Safety

This includes Federal, State, Tribal, and Territorial Agencies, law enforcement, and public safety entities. These are defined in AC 00-1.1B – Public Aircraft Operations – Manned and Unmanned.

(4) Commercial

 

 

Learn how the FAA processes UAS requests with JO 7200.23C – Processing of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requests. This order provides guidance for Headquarters, Service Centers, and Air Traffic Managers on air traffic policies and prescribes procedures for the planning, coordination, and services involving the processing of applications for the operation of UAS in the NAS. Unless otherwise indicated in this order, all applications are processed at the Service Centers. However, in the case of certain high priority applications, the Headquarters may choose to process the application. This order establishes air traffic policy for the processing of authorization and waiver requests for UAS operations in the NAS. An unmanned aircraft system that is operated underground for mining purposes must not be subject to regulation or enforcement by the FAA under title 49, United States Code, Section 355.

 

 

Register your Drone

How to Register Your Drone: Register your drone at FAA DroneZone either under part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers. If you are not sure what kind of a drone flyer you are, check out our User Identification Tool or visit our Getting Started webpage to learn more.

  • All drones must be registered, except those that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.
  • Drones registered under part 107 may be flown for recreational purposes as well as under part 107.
  • Drones registered under the Exception for Recreational Flyers cannot be flown for Part 107 operations.

Remote Identification and Your Drone: Beginning September 16, 2023, all drone pilots required to register their drone must operate their aircraft in accordance with the remote ID rule for pilots, which gives drone owners sufficient time to upgrade their aircraft.

September 2023 – FAA Extends Remote ID Enforcement Date Six Months

Drone pilots who are unable to comply with the broadcast requirement of the Remote ID Rule will now have until March 16, 2024, to equip their aircraft. After that date, operators could face fines and suspension or revocation of pilot certificates. In making this decision, the FAA recognizes the unanticipated issues that some operators are experiencing finding some remote identification broadcast modules.

Federal Register – Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft; Delay

 

Drone manufacturers had until September 16, 2022 to produce drones with built-in standard remote ID. View Remote ID for Industry. The FAA also encourages the early production of remote ID broadcast modules.

How to Register: Information Needed to Register

  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Make and model of your drone
  • Specific Remote ID serial number provided by the manufacturer (if applicable)
  • Credit or debit card

Registration Fees

  • Part 107 registration costs $5 per drone and is valid for three (3) years.
  • The Exception for Recreational Flyers registration costs $5 and is valid for three (3) years.
  • Once registered, drone registration cannot be transferred between types (part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers).

Registration Requirements

  • 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the drone)
  • U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • For foreign operators, FAA will consider the certificate issued to be a recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft registration.

Where to Register

After You Register

Once you register your drone, you will receive an FAA registration certificate. You must have your registration certificate (either a paper copy or digital copy) in your possession when you fly. If another individual operates your drone, they must have your drone registration certificate (either a paper or digital copy) in their possession. Federal law requires drone operators who are required to register, to show their certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked.

Failure to register a drone that requires registration may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three (3) years.

Label Your Drone

The FAA requires that you mark all drones with your registration number before you fly them. Here is how to label your drone:

  • Label your drone (PDF)
  • Must be maintained in a condition that is legible.
  • Must be affixed to the small unmanned aircraft by any means necessary to ensure that it will remain affixed for the duration of each operation.
  • Must be legibly displayed on an external surface of the small unmanned aircraft.

Renew Your Drone Registration

When your drone registration expires, you need to renew your registration at the FAA DroneZone. If you are having trouble logging into the DroneZone, you may need to reset your password (PDF). Be sure to use the email address you used when you originally registered your drone with the FAA.

Drone Registration Data and Additional Information

14 CFR Part 89

14 CFR Part 89

AC 89-1

AC 89-2

AC 89-3

 

 

UAS Safety Risk Management (SRM) Policy

The FAA has been tasked with safely integrating UAS operations in the NAS. FAA Order 8040.6A, UAS Safety Risk Management (SRM) Policy supplements FAA Order 8040.4, Safety Risk Management Policy by establishing a methodology for conducting SRM when required. This Order establishes governance and triage steps for all requests to operate UAS received by FAA lines of business (LOB) and defines SRM steps for the Aviation Safety (AVS) organization. SRM is one of the four components of a Safety Management System (SMS). The objective of SRM is to provide information regarding hazards, safety risks, and safety risk controls to decision-makers to enhance the FAA’s ability to address safety risks in the NAS.

Duty to See and Avoid Other Aircraft

The FAA has issued AC 90-48E to assist pilots with their regulatory obligation to see and avoid other aircraft. Specifically, this AC looks to alert pilots to human contributors to midair collisions and near midair collisions (NMAC), and recommend improvements to pilot education, operating practices, procedures, and improved scanning techniques to reduce midair conflicts. This AC is not mandatory and does not constitute a regulation. The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way, and the document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. Specifics to UAS pilots are as follows:

Section 11.1.5 Avoiding Collisions With Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Pilots should remain vigilant of UAS at or below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace and at all times in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). All pilots should remain vigilant of all aircraft if they are able to see them, and take measures to avoid them.

InFO 18001 – Reflective Vests

The FAA publishes All Information for Operators (InFOs). An InFO contains valuable information for operators that should help them meet certain administrative, regulatory, or operational requirements with relatively low urgency or impact on safety.

In 2018, the FAA published InFO 18001, Use of Reflective Vests by Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Remote Pilots. This InFO serves to inform sUAS remote pilots on techniques for clearly identifying themselves to the general public. The FAA set forth regulations in 2016 that enable additional sUAS operations. In order to help bolster public awareness of sUAS operations and reduce the number of distractions for remote pilots and others participating in sUAS operations, the FAA recommends remote pilots in command, anyone operating the flight controls of the sUAS, visual observers, and any other person providing assistance in the sUAS operation wear brightly colored and reflective vests during flight operations.

The vest should have wording on the back identifying the individual as the remote pilot, visual observer, or other person involved in the sUAS operation. The vests should have wording such as “Drone Pilot Please Do Not Disturb”, “Drone Pilot Stand Clear”, “Drone Pilot”, “Designated Visual Observer” or similar for purposes of identification and to caution against distraction. A vest as described above is easily distinguishable and often used by other safety-centric personnel such as construction and utility workers, airport ground crews, and railway personnel. The vest may reduce the likelihood someone will approach or query a person involved in sUAS operations. While the use of highly visible reflective vests is intended to aid in the identification of sUAS remote pilots and others participating in sUAS operations and minimize the likelihood of distractions during such operation, their use does not negate the need to respond to requests from law enforcement in an urgent manner. Title 49 USC 44103(d) requires operators of aircraft (to include UAS) to make available for inspection a certificate of registration for the aircraft when requested by a United States Government, State, or local law enforcement officer. Operators must heed law enforcement requests for documentation and should abide by other requests from law enforcement officials.

The FAA recommends remote pilots and other persons participating in the sUAS operation wear brightly colored and reflective vests during such operation. The vest should have wording on the back identifying the individual as the remote pilot, visual observer, or other person participating in the sUAS operation and include a caution against distracting the person wearing such vest.

Type Certification of Certain UAS

On September 18, 2020, the FAA published Type Certification of Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a policy for the type certification of certain unmanned aircraft systems as a special class of aircraft that went into effect the same day. In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95). Section 332 of Public Law 112-95 (codified at 49 U.S.C. 44802) directed the FAA to develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). As part of that plan, the FAA issued the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems final rule (81 FR 42064, June 28, 2016), which added 14 CFR part 107 to the FAA’s regulations in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR).

The FAA establishes airworthiness criteria and issues type certificates to ensure the safe operation of aircraft in accordance with 49 U.S.C. 44701(a) and 44704. Section 44704 requires the Administrator to find an aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance is properly designed and manufactured, performs properly, and meets the regulations and minimum standards prescribed under section 44701(a) before issuing a type certificate for it.

14 CFR part 21 contains the FAA’s procedural requirements for airworthiness and type certification. When the FAA promulgated part 21 as part of its re-codification to combine and streamline the Civil Air Regulations, it originally required applicants for a type certificate to show that the product met existing airworthiness standards (29 FR 14562, October 24, 1964). Existing airworthiness standards for aircraft and other products, issued as a separate part of the FAA’s regulations, are: Normal category airplanes under 14 CFR part 23, transport category airplanes under 14 CFR part 25, normal category rotorcraft under 14 CFR part 27, transport category rotorcraft under 14 CFR part 29, manned free balloons under 14 CFR part 31, aircraft engines under 14 CFR part 33, and propellers under 14 CFR part 35. Part 107 sets forth rules for the operation of small UAS that do not require FAA airworthiness certification. Under part 107, operations may not occur over persons, at night, generally above an altitude of 400 feet above ground level, or beyond visual line-of-sight, without a waiver issued by the FAA. UAS weighing 55 pounds or more and small UAS operating outside the limitations imposed by part 107 must receive airworthiness certification, a waiver, or an exemption as appropriate.

The FAA subsequently amended part 21 to add procedural requirements for the issuance of type certificates for special classes of aircraft (52 FR 8040, March 13, 1987). In the final rule (amendment 21-60), the FAA explained that it intended the special class category to include, in part, those aircraft that would be eligible for a standard airworthiness certificate but for which certification standards do not exist due to their unique, novel, or unusual design features. The FAA further stated that the “decision to type certificate an aircraft in either the special class aircraft category or under… the FAR is entirely dependent upon the aircraft’s unique, novel, and/or unusual design features.” (52 FR 8041).

Specifically, the final rule (amendment 21-60) revised § 21.17(b) to include the certification procedure for special classes of aircraft. For special classes of aircraft, for which airworthiness standards have not been issued, the applicable airworthiness requirements will be the portions of those existing standards contained in parts 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, and 35 found by the FAA to be appropriate for the aircraft and applicable to a specific type design, or such airworthiness criteria as the FAA may find provide an equivalent level of safety to those parts.

An “unmanned aircraft” is an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. See 49 U.S.C. 44801(11); 14 CFR 1.1. Unmanned aircraft include all classes of airplanes, rotorcraft, and powered-lift aircraft. Many UAS elements, while essential for safe operation, are part of the UAS system but are not permanent features of the unmanned aircraft. For example, instead of traditional landing gear with wheels and brakes, many UAS have a launch and recovery system. Additionally, because the pilot is not situated within the aircraft, unique configurations and applications of airframes, powerplants, fuels, and materials are possible and can result in flight characteristics different from those of conventional aircraft. These features specific to UAS are the very unique, novel, and/or unusual features the special class category was designed to accommodate.

A notice of policy and request for comments regarding the type certification of certain UAS was published in the Federal Register on February 3, 2020 (85 FR 5905). The public comment period for the notice closed on March 4, 2020. The notice proposed that some UAS with no occupants onboard may be type certificated as a special class of aircraft under § 21.17(b). The notice also proposed that for airplane and rotorcraft designs, when appropriate, the FAA may still issue type certificates under § 21.17(a).

The FAA has determined that some UAS may be type certificated as a “special class” of aircraft under § 21.17(b). The FAA will issue type certificates for UAS with no occupants onboard under the process in § 21.17(b). However, the FAA may still issue type certificates under § 21.17(a) for airplane and rotorcraft UAS designs where the airworthiness standards in part 23, 25, 27 or 29, respectively, are appropriate for the certification basis. This policy applies only to the procedures for the type certification of UAS, and is not intended to establish policy impacting other FAA rules pertaining to unmanned aircraft, such as operations, pilot certification, or maintenance.

The FAA will seek public comment on the particularized airworthiness criteria for each applicant as certification standards for this new special class evolve. Once generally applicable standards are identified, the FAA may conduct rulemaking. The FAA’s part 107 rulemaking on small UAS was only the first step in the FAA’s plan to integrate UAS into the NAS. Many long-term activities are required for full integration of present and future UAS operations, which will include the delivery of packages and transportation of people. The UAS affected by this policy will include those used for package delivery. Future FAA activity, through either further policy or rulemaking, will address type certification for UAS carrying occupants. This policy does not have the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

FAA Order 8130.34D – Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Optionally Piloted Aircraft

Order 8130.34D – Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Optionally Piloted Aircraft

  • Establishes procedures for issuing special airworthiness certificates in the experimental category to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), optionally piloted aircraft (OPA), and aircraft intended to be flown as either a UAS or an OPA under the designation “OPA/UAS”
  • Establishes procedures for issuing special flight permits to UAS for the purpose of production flight testing
  • Procedures in this order apply to FAA aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and private persons delegated authority to
    issue special airworthiness certificates

 

Commercial Drone Rules

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Part 107 guidelines. To ensure you can fly under Part 107 rules, first use the FAA user identification tool. Some operations will require a waiver. You can become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test. To be eligible to get your Remote Pilot Certificate, you must be:

  • At least 16 years old
  • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS

Review Knowledge Test Suggested Study Materials provided by the FAA. Create an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile prior to registering for the knowledge test. Take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center. Once you’ve passed your test, for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) login the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA) to complete FAA form 8710-13. Review the full process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.

One last thing. Register your Drone with the FAA. Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years. You will need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy in order to register. Create an account and register your drone at FAADroneZone. Select “Fly sUAS under Part 107.” Once you have registered, mark your drone with your registration number in case it gets lost or stolen. You can learn more about Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft, 14 CFR part 48.

You should become familiar with Title 14 – Aeronautics and Space

Chapter I – Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation

Subchapter F – Air Traffic and General Operating Rules

Part 107 Waivers Issued

BVLOS – Obstruction Shielding Waivers

Tactical BVLOS Waivers

SGI – Special Government interest Waivers

 

 

 

14 CFR Part 107 – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Subpart A – General

§ 107.1 Applicability.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, this part applies to the registration, airman certification, and operation of civil SUAS within the US. This part also applies to the eligibility of civil SUAS to operate over human beings in the US.

(b) This part does not apply to the following:

(1) Air carrier operations;

(2) Any aircraft subject to the provisions of 49 USC 44809;

(3) Any operation that the holder of an exemption under section 333 of Public Law 112-95 or 49 USC 44807 elects to conduct pursuant to the exemption, unless otherwise specified in the exemption; or

(4) Any operation that a person elects to conduct under part 91 of this chapter with a SUAS that has been issued an airworthiness certificate.

§ 107.2 Applicability of certification procedures for products and articles.

The provisions of part 21 of this chapter do not apply to SUAS operated under this part unless the SUAS will operate over human beings in accordance with § 107.140.

§ 107.3 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this part. If there is a conflict between the definitions of this part and definitions specified in § 1.1 of this chapter, the definitions in this part control for purposes of this part:

Control station means an interface used by the remote pilot to control the flight path of the SUA.

Corrective lenses means spectacles or contact lenses.

Declaration of compliance means a record submitted to the FAA that certifies the SUA conforms to the Category 2 or Category 3 requirements under subpart D of this part.

Small unmanned aircraft means an UA weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft.

Small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) means a SUA and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the SUA) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the SUA in the NAS.

Unmanned aircraft means an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Visual observer means a person who is designated by the RPIC to assist the RPIC and the person manipulating the flight controls of the SUAS to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground.

§ 107.5 Falsification, reproduction, or alteration.

(a) No person may make or cause to be made –

(1) Any fraudulent or intentionally false record or report that is required to be made, kept, or used to show compliance with any requirement under this part.

(2) Any reproduction or alteration, for fraudulent purpose, of any certificate, rating, authorization, record, or report under this part.

(b) The commission by any person of an act prohibited under paragraph (a) of this section is a basis for any of the following:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate or a certificate of waiver;

(2) Denial of a DOC;

(3) Suspension or revocation of any certificate, waiver, or DOC issued or accepted by the Administrator under this part and held by that person; or

(4) A civil penalty.

§ 107.7 Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.

(a) A RPIC, owner, or person manipulating the flight controls of a SUAS must –

(1) Have in that person’s physical possession and readily accessible the remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating and identification when exercising the privileges of that remote pilot certificate.

(2) Present his or her remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating and identification that contains the information listed at § 107.67(b)(1) through (3) for inspection upon a request from –

(i) The Administrator;

(ii) An authorized representative of the NTSB;

(iii) Any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer; or

(iv) An authorized representative of the TSA.

(3) Make available, upon request, to the Administrator any document, record, or report required to be kept under the regulations of this chapter.

(b) The RPIC, VO, owner, operator, or person manipulating the flight controls of a SUAS must, upon request, allow the Administrator to make any test or inspection of the SUAS, the RPIC, the person manipulating the flight controls of a SUAS, and, if applicable, the VO to determine compliance with this part.

(c) Any person holding an FAA-accepted DOC under subpart D of this part must, upon request, make available to the Administrator:

(1) The DOC required under subpart D of this part; and

(2) Any other document, record, or report required to be kept under the regulations of this chapter.

(d) Any person holding an FAA-accepted DOC under subpart D of this part must, upon request, allow the Administrator to inspect its facilities, technical data, and any manufactured SUAS and witness any tests necessary to determine compliance with that subpart.

§ 107.9 Accident reporting.

No later than 10 calendar days after an operation that meets the criteria of either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, a RPIC must report to the FAA, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator, any operation of the SUA involving at least:

(a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or

(b) Damage to any property, other than the SUA, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1) The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or

(2) The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss.

Subpart B – Operating Rules

§ 107.11 Applicability.

This subpart applies to the operation of all civil SUAS subject to this part.

§ 107.12 Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may manipulate the flight controls of a SUAS unless:

(1) That person has a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating issued pursuant to subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of § 107.65; or

(2) That person is under the direct supervision of a RPIC and the RPIC has the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the SUA.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may act as a RPIC unless that person has a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating issued pursuant to Subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of § 107.65.

(c) The Administrator may, consistent with international standards, authorize an airman to operate a civil foreign-registered SUA without an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating.

§ 107.13 Registration.

A person operating a civil SUAS for purposes of flight must comply with the provisions of § 91.203(a)(2) of this chapter.

§ 107.15 Condition for safe operation.

(a) No person may operate a civil SUAS unless it is in a condition for safe operation. Prior to each flight, the RPIC must check the SUAS to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation.

(b) No person may continue flight of the SUA when he or she knows or has reason to know that the SUAS is no longer in a condition for safe operation.

§ 107.17 Medical condition.

No person may manipulate the flight controls of a SUAS or act as a RPIC, VO, or direct participant in the operation of the SUA if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the SUAS.

§ 107.19 Remote pilot in command.

(a) A RPIC must be designated before or during the flight of the SUA.

(b) The RPIC is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of the SUAS.

(c) The RPIC must ensure that the SUA will pose no undue hazard to other people, other aircraft, or other property in the event of a loss of control of the SUA for any reason.

(d) The RPIC must ensure that the SUAS operation complies with all applicable regulations of this chapter.

(e) The RPIC must have the ability to direct the SUA to ensure compliance with the applicable provisions of this chapter.

§ 107.21 In-flight emergency.

(a) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the RPIC may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent necessary to meet that emergency.

(b) Each RPIC who deviates from a rule under paragraph (a) of this section must, upon request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.

§ 107.23 Hazardous operation.

No person may:

(a) Operate a SUAS in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another; or

(b) Allow an object to be dropped from a SUA in a manner that creates an undue hazard to persons or property.

§ 107.25 Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft.

No person may operate a SUAS –

(a) From a moving aircraft; or

(b) From a moving land or water-borne vehicle unless the SUA is flown over a sparsely populated area and is not transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire.

§ 107.27 Alcohol or drugs.

A person manipulating the flight controls of a SUAS or acting as a RPIC, or VO must comply with the provisions of §§ 91.17 and 91.19 of this chapter.

§ 107.29 Operation at night.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, no person may operate a SUAS at night unless –

(1) The RPIC of the SUA has completed an initial knowledge test or training, as applicable, under § 107.65 after April 6, 2021; and

(2) The SUA has lighted anti-collision lighting visible for at least 3 statute miles that has a flash rate sufficient to avoid a collision. The RPIC may reduce the intensity of, but may not extinguish, the anti-collision lighting if he or she determines that, because of operating conditions, it would be in the interest of safety to do so.

(b) No person may operate a SUAS during periods of civil twilight unless the SUA has lighted anti-collision lighting visible for at least 3 statute miles that has a flash rate sufficient to avoid a collision. The RPIC may reduce the intensity of, but may not extinguish, the anti-collision lighting if he or she determines that, because of operating conditions, it would be in the interest of safety to do so.

(c) For purposes of paragraph (b) of this section, civil twilight refers to the following:

(1) Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins 30 minutes before official sunrise and ends at official sunrise;

(2) Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins at official sunset and ends 30 minutes after official sunset; and

(3) In Alaska, the period of civil twilight as defined in the Air Almanac.

(d) After May 17, 2021, no person may operate a SUAS at night in accordance with a certificate of waiver issued prior to April 21, 2021, under § 107.200. The certificates of waiver issued prior to March 16, 2021, under § 107.200 that authorize deviation from § 107.29 terminate on May 17, 2021.

§ 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation.

(a) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the RPIC, the VO (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the SUAS must be able to see the UA throughout the entire flight in order to:

(1) Know the UA’s location;

(2) Determine the UA’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;

(3) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and

(4) Determine that the UA does not endanger the life or property of another.

(b) Throughout the entire flight of the SUA, the ability described in paragraph (a) of this section must be exercised by either:

(1) The RPIC and the person manipulating the flight controls of the SUAS; or

(2) A VO.

§ 107.33 Visual observer.

If a VO is used during the aircraft operation, all of the following requirements must be met:

(a) The RPIC, the person manipulating the flight controls of the SUAS, and the VO must maintain effective communication with each other at all times.

(b) The RPIC must ensure that the VO is able to see the UA in the manner specified in § 107.31.

(c) The RPIC, the person manipulating the flight controls of the SUAS, and the VO must coordinate to do the following:

(1) Scan the airspace where the SUA is operating for any potential collision hazard; and

(2) Maintain awareness of the position of the SUA through direct visual observation.

§ 107.35 Operation of multiple SUA.

A person may not manipulate flight controls or act as a RPIC or VO in the operation of more than one UA at the same time.

§ 107.36 Carriage of hazardous material.

A SUA may not carry hazardous material. For purposes of this section, the term hazardous material is defined in 49 CFR 171.8.

§ 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

(a) Each SUA must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the SUA must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(b) No person may operate a SUA so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.

§ 107.39 Operation over human beings.

No person may operate a SUA over a human being unless –

(a) That human being is directly participating in the operation of the SUA;

(b) That human being is located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling SUA; or

(c) The operation meets the requirements of at least one of the operational categories specified in subpart D of this part.

§ 107.41 Operation in certain airspace.

No person may operate a SUA in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from ATC.

§ 107.43 Operation in the vicinity of airports.

No person may operate a SUA in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base.

§ 107.45 Operation in prohibited or restricted areas.

No person may operate a SUA in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.

§ 107.47 Flight restrictions in the proximity of certain areas designated by notice to air missions.

A person acting as a RPIC must comply with the provisions of §§ 91.137 through 91.145 and 99.7 of this chapter.

§ 107.49 Preflight familiarization, inspection, and actions for aircraft operation.

Prior to flight, the RPIC must:

(a) Assess the operating environment, considering risks to persons and property in the immediate vicinity both on the surface and in the air. This assessment must include:

(1) Local weather conditions;

(2) Local airspace and any flight restrictions;

(3) The location of persons and property on the surface; and

(4) Other ground hazards.

(b) Ensure that all persons directly participating in the SUA operation are informed about the operating conditions, emergency procedures, contingency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and potential hazards;

(c) Ensure that all control links between ground control station and the SUA are working properly;

(d) If the SUA is powered, ensure that there is enough available power for the SUAS to operate for the intended operational time;

(e) Ensure that any object attached or carried by the SUA is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft; and

(f) If the operation will be conducted over human beings under subpart D of this part, ensure that the aircraft meets the requirements of § 107.110, § 107.120(a), § 107.130(a), or § 107.140, as applicable.

§ 107.51 Operating limitations for SUA.

A RPIC and the person manipulating the flight controls of the SUAS must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a SUAS:

(a) The groundspeed of the SUA may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

(b) The altitude of the SUA cannot be higher than 400 feet AGL, unless the SUA:

(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.

(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 sm. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

(d) The minimum distance of the SUA from clouds must be no less than:

(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and

(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.

Subpart C – Remote Pilot Certification

§ 107.52 ATC transponder equipment prohibition.

Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, no person may operate a SUAS under this part with a transponder on.

§ 107.53 Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out prohibition.

Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, no person may operate a SUAS under this part with ADS-B Out equipment in transmit mode.

§ 107.56 Applicability.

This subpart prescribes the requirements for issuing a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating.

§ 107.57 Offenses involving alcohol or drugs.

(a) A conviction for the violation of any Federal or State statute relating to the growing, processing, manufacture, sale, disposition, possession, transportation, or importation of narcotic drugs, marijuana, or depressant or stimulant drugs or substances is grounds for:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of final conviction; or

(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating.

(b) Committing an act prohibited by § 91.17(a) or § 91.19(a) of this chapter is grounds for:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that act; or

(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating.

§ 107.59 Refusal to submit to an alcohol test or to furnish test results.

A refusal to submit to a test to indicate the percentage by weight of alcohol in the blood, when requested by a law enforcement officer in accordance with § 91.17(c) of this chapter, or a refusal to furnish or authorize the release of the test results requested by the Administrator in accordance with § 91.17(c) or (d) of this chapter, is grounds for:

(a) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that refusal; or

(b) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating.

§ 107.61 Eligibility.

Subject to the provisions of §§ 107.57 and 107.59, in order to be eligible for a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating under this subpart, a person must:

(a) Be at least 16 years of age;

(b) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, the FAA may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the SUA;

(c) Not know or have reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a SUAS; and

(d) Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by satisfying one of the following conditions, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator:

(1) Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73; or

(2) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56, complete training covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.74.

§ 107.63 Issuance of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

An applicant for a remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating under this subpart must make the application in a form and manner acceptable to the Administrator.

(a) The application must include either:

(1) Evidence showing that the applicant passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test. If applying using a paper application, this evidence must be an airman knowledge test report showing passage of the knowledge test; or

(2) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56, a certificate of completion of an initial training course under this part that covers the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.74.

(b) If the application is being made pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section:

(1) The application must be submitted to the responsible Flight Standards office, a designated pilot examiner, an airman certification representative for a pilot school, a certificated flight instructor, or other person authorized by the Administrator;

(2) The person accepting the application submission must verify the identity of the applicant in a manner acceptable to the Administrator; and

(3) The person making the application must, by logbook endorsement or other manner acceptable to the Administrator, show the applicant meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 of this chapter.

§ 107.64 Temporary certificate.

(a) A temporary remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating is issued for up to 120 calendar days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.

(b) A temporary remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating expires:

(1) On the expiration date shown on the certificate;

(2) Upon receipt of the permanent certificate; or

(3) Upon receipt of a notice that the certificate sought is denied or revoked.

§ 107.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.

A person may not exercise the privileges of a RPIC with SUAS rating unless that person has accomplished one of the following in a manner acceptable to the Administrator within the previous 24 calendar months:

(a) Passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73;

(b) Completed recurrent training covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73; or

(c) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56, completed training covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.74.

(d) A person who has passed a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test in a manner acceptable to the Administrator or who has satisfied the training requirement of paragraph (c) of this section prior to April 6, 2021, within the previous 24 calendar months is considered to be in compliance with the requirement of paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, as applicable.

§ 107.67 Knowledge tests: General procedures and passing grades.

(a) Knowledge tests prescribed by or under this part are given by persons and in the manner designated by the Administrator.

(b) An applicant for a knowledge test must have proper identification at the time of application that contains the applicant’s:

(1) Photograph;

(2) Signature;

(3) Date of birth, which shows the applicant meets or will meet the age requirements of this part for the certificate and rating sought before the expiration date of the airman knowledge test report; and

(4) Permanent mailing address. If the applicant’s permanent mailing address is a post office box number, then the applicant must also provide a current residential address.

(c) The minimum passing grade for the knowledge test will be specified by the Administrator.

§ 107.69 Knowledge tests: Cheating or other unauthorized conduct.

(a) An applicant for a knowledge test may not:

(1) Copy or intentionally remove any knowledge test;

(2) Give to another applicant or receive from another applicant any part or copy of a knowledge test;

(3) Give or receive assistance on a knowledge test during the period that test is being given;

(4) Take any part of a knowledge test on behalf of another person;

(5) Be represented by, or represent, another person for a knowledge test;

(6) Use any material or aid during the period that the test is being given, unless specifically authorized to do so by the Administrator; and

(7) Intentionally cause, assist, or participate in any act prohibited by this paragraph.

(b) An applicant who the Administrator finds has committed an act prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section is prohibited, for 1 year after the date of committing that act, from:

(1) Applying for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this chapter; and

(2) Applying for and taking any test under this chapter.

(c) Any certificate or rating held by an applicant may be suspended or revoked if the Administrator finds that person has committed an act prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section.

§ 107.71 Retesting after failure.

An applicant for a knowledge test who fails that test may not reapply for the test for 14 calendar days after failing the test.

§ 107.73 Knowledge and training.

An initial aeronautical knowledge test and recurrent training covers the following areas of knowledge:

(a) Applicable regulations relating to SUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(b) Airspace classification, operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting SUA operation;

(c) Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on SUA performance;

(d) SUA loading;

(e) Emergency procedures;

(f) CRM;

(g) Radio communication procedures;

(h) Determining the performance of the SUA;

(i) Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;

(j) ADM and judgment;

(k) Airport operations;

(l) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures; and

(m) Operation at night.

§ 107.74 SUAS training.

Training for pilots who hold a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meet the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 covers the following areas of knowledge:

(a) Applicable regulations relating to SUAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

(b) Effects of weather on SUA performance;

(c) SUA loading;

(d) Emergency procedures;

(e) CRM;

(f) Determining the performance of the SUA;

(g) Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures; and

(h) Operation at night.

§ 107.77 Change of name or address.

(a) Change of name. An application to change the name on a certificate issued under this subpart must be accompanied by the applicant’s:

(1) Remote pilot certificate with SUAS rating; and

(2) A copy of the marriage license, court order, or other document verifying the name change.

(b) The documents in paragraph (a) of this section will be returned to the applicant after inspection.

(c) Change of address. The holder of a remote pilot certificate with SUAS rating issued under this subpart who has made a change in permanent mailing address may not, after 30 days from that date, exercise the privileges of the certificate unless the holder has notified the FAA of the change in address using one of the following methods:

(1) By letter to the FAA Airman Certification Branch, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125 providing the new permanent mailing address, or if the permanent mailing address includes a post office box number, then the holder’s current residential address; or

(2) By using the FAA Web site portal at www.faa.gov providing the new permanent mailing address, or if the permanent mailing address includes a post office box number, then the holder’s current residential address.

§ 107.79 Voluntary surrender of certificate.

(a) The holder of a certificate issued under this subpart may voluntarily surrender it for cancellation.

(b) Any request made under paragraph (a) of this section must include the following signed statement or its equivalent: “I voluntarily surrender my remote pilot certificate with a SUAS rating for cancellation. This request is made for my own reasons, with full knowledge that my certificate will not be reissued to me unless I again complete the requirements specified in §§ 107.61 and 107.63.”

Subpart D – Operations Over Human Beings

§ 107.100 Applicability.

This subpart prescribes the eligibility and operating requirements for civil SUA to operate over human beings or over moving vehicles in the US, in addition to those operations permitted by § 107.39(a) and (b).

§ 107.105 Limitations on operations over human beings.

Except as provided in §§ 107.39(a) and (b) and 107.145, a RPIC may conduct operations over human beings only in accordance with the following, as applicable: § 107.110 for Category 1 operations; §§ 107.115 and 107.120 for Category 2 operations; §§ 107.125 and 107.130 for Category 3 operations; or § 107.140 for Category 4 operations.

§ 107.110 Category 1 operations.

To conduct Category 1 operations –

(a) A RPIC must use a SUA that –

(1) Weighs 0.55 pounds or less on takeoff and throughout the duration of each operation under Category 1, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft; and

(2) Does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being.

(b) No RPIC may operate a SUA in sustained flight over open-air assemblies of human beings unless the operation meets the requirements of either § 89.110 or § 89.115(a) of this chapter.

§ 107.115 Category 2 operations: Operating requirements.

To conduct Category 2 operations –

(a) A RPIC must use a SUA that –

(1) Is eligible for Category 2 operations pursuant to § 107.120(a);

(2) Is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC as eligible for Category 2 operations in accordance with § 107.160; and

(3) Is labeled as eligible to conduct Category 2 operations in accordance with § 107.120(b)(1).

(b) No RPIC may operate a SUA in sustained flight over open-air assemblies of human beings unless the operation meets the requirements of either § 89.110 or § 89.115(a) of this chapter.

§ 107.120 Category 2 operations: Eligibility of SUA and other applicant requirements.

(a) To be eligible for use in Category 2 operations, the SUA must be designed, produced, or modified such that it –

(1) Will not cause injury to a human being that is equivalent to or greater than the severity of injury caused by a transfer of 11 foot-pounds of kinetic energy upon impact from a rigid object;

(2) Does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being; and

(3) Does not contain any safety defects.

(b) The applicant for a DOC for a SUA that is eligible for use in Category 2 operations in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, must meet all of the following requirements for the applicant’s UA to be used in Category 2 operations:

(1) Display a label on the SUA indicating eligibility to conduct Category 2 operations. The label must be in English and be legible, prominent, and permanently affixed to the SUA.

(2) Have remote pilot operating instructions that apply to the operation of the SUAS. The applicant for a DOC must make available these instructions upon sale or transfer of the aircraft or use of the aircraft by someone other than the applicant who submitted a DOC pursuant to § 107.160. Such instructions must address, at a minimum –

(i) A system description that includes the required SUAS components, any system limitations, and the declared category or categories of operation;

(ii) Modifications that will not change the ability of the SUAS to meet the requirements for the category or categories of operation the SUAS is eligible to conduct; and

(iii) Instructions for how to verify and change the mode or configuration of the SUAS, if they are variable.

(3) Maintain a product support and notification process. The applicant for a DOC must maintain product support and notification procedures to notify the public and the FAA of-

(i) Any defect or condition that causes the SUA to no longer meet the requirements of this subpart; and

(ii) Any identified safety defect that causes the SUA to exceed a low probability of casualty.

§ 107.125 Category 3 operations: Operating requirements.

To conduct Category 3 operations, a RPIC –

(a) Must use a SUA that –

(1) Is eligible for Category 3 operations pursuant to § 107.130(a);

(2) Is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC as eligible for Category 3 operations in accordance with § 107.160; and

(3) Is labeled as eligible for Category 3 operations in accordance with § 107.130(b)(1);

(b) Must not operate the SUA over open-air assemblies of human beings; and

(c) May only operate the SUA above any human being if operation meets one of the following conditions:

(1) The operation is within or over a closed- or restricted-access site and all human beings located within the closed- or restricted-access site must be on notice that a SUA may fly over them; or

(2) The SUA does not maintain sustained flight over any human being unless that human being is –

(i) Directly participating in the operation of the SUA; or

(ii) Located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling SUA.

§ 107.130 Category 3 operations: Eligibility of SUA and other applicant requirements.

(a) To be eligible for use in Category 3 operations, the SUA must be designed, produced, or modified such that it –

(1) Will not cause injury to a human being that is equivalent to or greater than the severity of the injury caused by a transfer of 25 foot-pounds of kinetic energy upon impact from a rigid object;

(2) Does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being; and

(3) Does not contain any safety defects.

(b) The applicant for a DOC for a SUA that is eligible for use in Category 3 operations in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, must meet all of the following requirements for the applicant’s SUA to be used in Category 3 operations:

(1) Display a label on the SUA indicating eligibility to conduct Category 3 operations. The label must be in English and be legible, prominent, and permanently affixed to the SUA.

(2) Have remote pilot operating instructions that apply to the operation of the SUAS. The applicant for a DOC must make available these instructions upon sale or transfer of the aircraft or use of the aircraft by someone other than the applicant who submitted a declaration of compliance pursuant to § 107.160. Such instructions must address, at a minimum –

(i) A system description that includes the required SUAS components, any system limitations, and the declared category or categories of operation;

(ii) Modifications that will not change the ability of the SUAS to meet the requirements for the category or categories of operation the SUAS is eligible to conduct; and

(iii) Instructions for how to verify and change the mode or configuration of the SUAS, if they are variable.

(3) Maintain a product support and notification process. The applicant for a DOC must maintain product support and notification procedures to notify the public and the FAA of-

(i) Any defect or condition that causes the SUA to no longer meet the requirements of this subpart; and

(ii) Any identified safety defect that causes the SUA to exceed a low probability of fatality.

§ 107.135 Labeling by RPIC for Category 2 and 3 operations.

If a Category 2 or Category 3 label affixed to a SUA is damaged, destroyed, or missing, a RPIC must label the aircraft in English such that the label is legible, prominent, and will remain on the SUA for the duration of the operation before conducting operations over human beings. The label must correctly identify the category or categories of operation over human beings that the SUA is qualified to conduct in accordance with this subpart.

§ 107.140 Category 4 operations.

(a) RPIC requirements. To conduct Category 4 operations –

(1) A RPIC –

(i) Must use a SUA that is eligible for Category 4 operations pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section; and

(ii) Must operate the SUA in accordance with all operating limitations that apply to the SUA, as specified by the Administrator.

(2) No RPIC may operate a SUA in sustained flight over open-air assemblies of human beings unless the operation meets the requirements of either § 89.110 or § 89.115(a) of this chapter.

(b) SUA requirements for Category 4. To be eligible to operate over human beings under this section, the SUA must –

(1) Have an airworthiness certificate issued under part 21 of this chapter.

(2) Be operated in accordance with the operating limitations specified in the approved Flight Manual or as otherwise specified by the Administrator. The operating limitations must not prohibit operations over human beings.

(3) Have maintenance, preventive maintenance, alterations, or inspections performed in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(c) Maintenance requirements for Category 4. The owner must (unless the owner enters into an agreement with an operator to meet the requirements of this paragraph (c), then the operator must) meet the requirements of this paragraph (c):

(1) Ensure the person performing any maintenance, preventive maintenance, alterations, or inspections:

(i) Uses the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness that are acceptable to the Administrator, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator;

(ii) Has the knowledge, skill, and appropriate equipment to perform the work;

(iii) Performs the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on the SUA in a manner using the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness prepared by its manufacturer, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator;

(iv) Inspects the SUA in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or other instructions acceptable to the Administrator; and

(v) Performs the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations using parts of such a quality that the condition of the aircraft will be at least equal to its original or properly altered condition.

(2) Maintain all records of maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations performed on the aircraft and ensure the records are documented in a manner acceptable to the Administrator. The records must contain the description of the work performed, the date the work was completed, and the name of the person who performed the work.

(3) Maintain all records containing –

(i) The status of life-limited parts that are installed on, or part of, the SUA;

(ii) The inspection status of the aircraft; and

(iii) The status of applicable airworthiness directives including the method of compliance, the airworthiness directive number, and revision date. If the airworthiness directive involves recurring action, the record must contain the time and date of the next required action.

(4) Retain the records required under paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section, as follows:

(i) The records documenting maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations performed must be retained for 1 year from when the work is completed or until the maintenance is repeated or superseded by other work.

(ii) The records documenting the status of life-limited parts, compliance with airworthiness directives, and inspection status of the SUA must be retained and transferred with the aircraft upon change in ownership.

(5) Ensure all records under paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section are available for inspection upon request from the Administrator or any authorized representative of the NTSB.

(d) Compliance with parts 43 and 91 of this chapter. Compliance with part 43 and part 91, subpart E, of this chapter fulfills the requirements in paragraphs (b)(3) and (c) of this section.

§ 107.145 Operations over moving vehicles.

No person may operate a SUA over a human being located inside a moving vehicle unless the following conditions are met:

(a) The operation occurs in accordance with § 107.110 for Category 1 operations; § 107.115 for Category 2 operations; § 107.125 for Category 3 operations; or § 107.140 for Category 4 operations.

(b) For an operation under Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3, the SUA, throughout the operation –

(1) Must remain within or over a closed- or restricted-access site, and all human beings located inside a moving vehicle within the closed- or restricted-access site must be on notice that a SUA may fly over them; or

(2) Must not maintain sustained flight over moving vehicles.

(c) For a Category 4 operation, the SUA must –

(1) Have an airworthiness certificate issued under part 21 of this chapter.

(2) Be operated in accordance with the operating limitations specified in the approved Flight Manual or as otherwise specified by the Administrator. The operating limitations must not prohibit operations over human beings located inside moving vehicles.

§ 107.150 Variable mode and variable configuration of SUAS.

A SUAS may be eligible for one or more categories of operation over human beings under this subpart, as long as a RPIC cannot inadvertently switch between modes or configurations.

§ 107.155 Means of compliance.

(a) Establishment of compliance. To meet the requirements of § 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2, or the requirements of § 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3, the means of compliance must consist of test, analysis, or inspection.

(b) Required information. An applicant requesting FAA acceptance of a MOC must submit the following information to the FAA in a manner specified by the Administrator:

(1) Procedures. Detailed description of the MOC, including applicable test, analysis, or inspection procedures to demonstrate how the SUA meets the requirements of § 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2 or the requirements of § 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3. The description should include conditions, environments, and methods, as applicable.

(2) Compliance explanation. Explanation of how application of the MOC fulfills the requirements of § 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2 or the requirements of § 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3.

(c) FAA acceptance. If the FAA determines the applicant has demonstrated compliance with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, it will notify the applicant that it has accepted the MOC.

(d) Rescission.

(1) A MOC is subject to ongoing review by the Administrator. The Administrator may rescind its acceptance of a MOC if the Administrator determines that a MOC does not meet any or all of the requirements of this subpart.

(2) The Administrator will publish a notice of rescission in the FEDERAL REGISTER.

(e) Inapplicability of part 13, subpart D, of this chapter. Part 13, subpart D, of this chapter does not apply to the procedures of paragraph (a) of this section.

§ 107.160 Declaration of compliance.

(a) Required information. In order for an applicant to declare a SUA is compliant with the requirements of this subpart for Category 2 or Category 3 operations, an applicant must submit a DOC for acceptance by the FAA, in a manner specified by the Administrator, that includes the following information:

(1) Applicant’s name;

(2) Applicant’s physical address;

(3) Applicant’s email address;

(4) The SUA make and model name, and series, if applicable;

(5) The SUA serial number or range of serial numbers that are the subject of the DOC;

(6) Whether the DOC is an initial declaration or an amended declaration;

(7) If the DOC is an amended declaration, the reason for the re-submittal;

(8) The accepted MOC the applicant used to fulfill requirements of § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a) or both;

(9) A declaration that the applicant –

(i) Has demonstrated that the SUA, or specific configurations of that aircraft, satisfies § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a) or both, through the accepted MOC identified in paragraph (a)(8) of this section;

(ii) Has verified that the UA does not contain any safety defects;

(iii) Has satisfied § 107.120(b)(3) or § 107.130(b)(3), or both; and

(iv) Will, upon request, allow the Administrator to inspect its facilities, technical data, and any manufactured SUA and witness any tests necessary to determine compliance with this subpart; and

(10) Other information as required by the Administrator.

(b) FAA acceptance. If the FAA determines the applicant has demonstrated compliance with the requirements of this subpart, it will notify the applicant that it has accepted the DOC.

(c) Notification of a safety issue. Prior to initiating rescission proceedings pursuant to paragraphs (d)(1) through (3) of this section, the FAA will notify the applicant if a safety issue has been identified for the DOC.

(d) Rescission.

(1) No person may operate a SUA identified on a DOC that the FAA has rescinded pursuant to this subpart while that DOC is rescinded.

(2) The FAA may rescind a DOC if any of the following conditions occur:

(i) A SUA for which a DOC was accepted no longer complies with § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a);

(ii) The FAA finds a DOC is in violation of § 107.5(a); or

(iii) The Administrator determines an emergency exists related to safety in accordance with the authority in 49 U.S.C. 46105.

(3) If a safety issue identified under paragraph (c) of this section has not been resolved, the FAA may rescind the DOC as follows:

(i) The FAA will issue a notice proposing to rescind the DOC. The notice will set forth the Agency’s basis for the proposed rescission and provide the holder of the DOC with 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of the proposed notice to submit evidentiary information to refute the proposed notice.

(ii) The holder of the DOC must submit information demonstrating how the SUA meets the requirements of this subpart within 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of the proposed notice.

(iii) If the FAA does not receive the information required by paragraph (d)(3)(ii) of this section within 30 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the proposed notice, the FAA will issue a notice rescinding the DOC.

(4) If the Administrator determines that an emergency exists in accordance with paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section, the FAA will exercise its authority under 49 U.S.C. 46105(c) to issue an order rescinding a DOC without initiating the process in paragraph (d)(3) of this section.

(e) Petition to reconsider the rescission of a DOC. A person subject to an order of rescission under paragraph (d)(3) of this section may petition the FAA to reconsider the rescission of a DOC by submitting a request to the FAA in a manner specified by the Administrator within 60 days of the date of issuance of the rescission.

(1) A petition to reconsider the rescission of a DOC must demonstrate at least one of the following:

(i) A material fact that was not present in the original response to the notification of the safety issue and an explanation for why it was not present in the original response;

(ii) The FAA made a material factual error in the decision to rescind the DOC; or

(iii) The FAA did not correctly interpret a law, regulation, or precedent.

(2) Upon consideration of the information submitted under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the FAA will issue a notice either affirming the rescission or withdrawing the rescission.

(f) Inapplicability of part 13, subpart D, of this chapter. Part 13, subpart D, of this chapter does not apply to the procedures of paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section.

§ 107.165 Record retention.

(a) A person who submits a DOC under this subpart must retain and make available to the Administrator, upon request, the information described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section for the period of time described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(1) All supporting information used to demonstrate the SUA meets the requirements of §§ 107.120(a), for operations in Category 2, and 107.130(a), for operations in Category 3.

(2) The following time periods apply:

(i) If the person who submits a DOC produces a SUA, that person must retain the information described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section for two years after the cessation of production of the SUAS for which the person declared compliance.

(ii) If the person who submits a DOC designs or modifies a SUA, that person must retain the information described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section for two years after the person submitted the DOC.

(b) A person who submits a MOC under this subpart must retain and make available to the Administrator, upon request, and for as long as the MOC remains accepted, the detailed description of the MOC and justification showing how the MOC meets the requirements of §§ 107.120(a), for operations in Category 2, and 107.130(a), for operations in Category 3.

Subpart E – Waivers

§ 107.200 Waiver policy and requirements.

(a) The Administrator may issue a certificate of waiver authorizing a deviation from any regulation specified in § 107.205 if the Administrator finds that a proposed SUAS operation can safely be conducted under the terms of that certificate of waiver.

(b) A request for a certificate of waiver must contain a complete description of the proposed operation and justification that establishes that the operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.

(c) The Administrator may prescribe additional limitations that the Administrator considers necessary.

(d) A person who receives a certificate of waiver issued under this section:

(1) May deviate from the regulations of this part to the extent specified in the certificate of waiver; and

(2) Must comply with any conditions or limitations that are specified in the certificate of waiver.

§ 107.205 List of regulations subject to waiver.

A certificate of waiver issued pursuant to § 107.200 may authorize a deviation from the following regulations of this part:

(a) Section 107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

(b) Section 107.29(a)(2) and (b) – Anti-collision light required for operations at night and during periods of civil twilight.

(c) Section 107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

(d) Section 107.33 – Visual observer.

(e) Section 107.35 – Operation of multiple SUAS.

(f) Section 107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.

(g) Section 107.39 – Operation over people.

(h) Section 107.41 – Operation in certain airspace.

(i) Section 107.51 – Operating limitations for SUA.

(j) Section 107.145 – Operations over moving vehicles.

AC 107-2A

AC 107-2A

CHAPTER 1. GENERAL

1.1 Purpose of This Advisory Circular (AC).

This AC provides guidance in the areas of airman (remote pilot) certification, aircraft registration and marking, aircraft airworthiness, and the operation of small UAS in the NAS to promote compliance with the requirements of 14 CFR part 107.

1.1.1 Effects of Guidance.

The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. It does not provide, nor is it intended to provide, a legal interpretation of the regulations. This AC uses mandatory terms, such as “must,” when the language is describing an established statutory or regulatory requirement. This AC does not change, add to, or delete regulatory requirements or authorize deviations from regulatory requirements or restrictions.

1.1.2 Part 107 Provisions.

This AC is not intended to cover every provision of part 107. Rather, this AC is intended to provide guidance on those provisions of part 107 where additional information may be helpful. The FAA emphasizes, however, that persons subject to part 107 are responsible for complying with every applicable provision of part 107, regardless of whether the provision is discussed in this AC.

1.1.3 Privacy-Related Laws.

Part 107 operators should be aware that State and local authorities may enact privacy-related laws specific to UAS operations. The FAA encourages small UAS operators to review those laws prior to operating their UAS. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has also published the Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability (dated May 18, 2016). This document outlines and describes voluntary best practices that small UAS operators could take to advance UAS privacy, transparency, and accountability for the private and commercial use of UAS.

1.2 Where You Can Find This AC.

You can find this AC on the FAA’s website.

1.3 What This AC Cancels.

AC 107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), dated June 21, 2016, is canceled.

1.4 Request for Information.

Direct comments and suggestions for improving this publication to: Federal Aviation Administration General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800) 55 M Street SE, 8th Floor, Zone 1 Washington, DC 20003

CHAPTER 2. REFERENCES

2.1 Related Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts.

The following regulations and parts

2.1.1 Title 14 CFR.

• Part 1, Definitions and Abbreviations.

• Part 43, Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alteration.

• Part 47, Aircraft Registration.

• Part 48, Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft.

• Part 71, Designation of Class A, B, C, D, and E Airspace Areas; Air Traffic Service Routes; and Reporting Points.

• Part 73, Special Use Airspace.

• Part 89, Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft.

• Part 91, General Operating and Flight Rules.

• Part 93, Special Air Traffic Rules.

• Part 99, Security Control of Air Traffic.

• Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

2.1.2 Title 47 CFR. Part 87, Aviation Services.
2.1.3 Title 49 CFR. Part 830, Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or Incidents and Overdue Aircraft, and Preservation of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail, Cargo, and Records.

2.2 Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM).

Information on how to obtain NOTAMs

2.2.1 Additional resources to create NOTAMs, check weather, and prepare flight plans

2.3 Related Reading Material.

The following listed reference materials contain additional information necessary to ensure safe operations in the NAS. A small UAS operator may want to consider seeking out additional publications to supplement the lists below.

2.3.1 FAA ACs and Directives (current editions).

You can find the current editions of the following publications on the FAA websites

• AC 00-6, Aviation Weather.

• AC 00-45, Aviation Weather Services.

• AC 60-28, FAA English Language Standard for an FAA Certificate Issued Under 14 CFR Parts 61, 63, 65, and 107.

• AC 61-141, Flight Instructors as Certifying Officials for Student Pilot and Remote Pilot Applicants.

• AC 120-92, Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers.

• FAA Order JO 7110.10, Air Traffic Organization Policy, Flight Services.

• FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Organization Policy, Air Traffic Control.

• FAA Order JO 7200.23, Air Traffic Organization Policy, Processing of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requests.

• FAA Order JO 7210.3, Air Traffic Organization Policy, Facility Operation and Administration.

• FAA Order JO 7400.11, Air Traffic Organization Policy, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points.

• FAA Order 8130.34, Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Optionally Piloted Aircraft.

• FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 16, Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

2.3.3 FAA Handbooks, Manuals, and Other Publications.

You can find the following handbooks, manuals, and other publications on the FAA website

Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)

Aeronautical Charts (Digital)

Pilot/Controller Glossary

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Risk Management Handbook

Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standards (ACS)

• Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operating Handbook

2.3.4 Statutory Resources.

• Public Law (PL) 112-95 (Feb. 14, 2012), Title III, Subtitle B—Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

• PL 114-190 (July 15, 2016), Title II, Subtitle B—UAS Safety.

• PL 115-254 (Oct. 5, 2018), Title III, Subtitle B—Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

CHAPTER 3. BACKGROUND
3.1 PL 112-95, Title III, Subtitle B. In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, PL 112-95. Section 333 of PL 112-95 directed the Secretary of Transportation to determine whether UAS operations posing the least amount of public risk and no threat to national security could safely be operated in the NAS and, if so, to establish requirements for the safe operation of these systems in the NAS. As part of its ongoing efforts to integrate UAS operations in the NAS and in accordance with Section 333, in June 2016, the FAA issued a final rule adding part 107, integrating civil small UAS into the NAS. Part 107 allows small UAS operations for many different purposes without requiring airworthiness certification, exemption, or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA).
3.2 Organization of Part 107. The FAA addresses aviation safety in three key areas: personnel, equipment, and operations. The FAA assesses each of these areas both independently to meet current regulations and standards, as well as collectively to ensure no conflicts exist overall that would create an unsafe condition. This approach allows the FAA to be flexible in responding to the needs of the aviation community while still being able to establish standards for future growth and development. To that end, part 107 contains subparts that focus on each of these key aviation safety areas specific to small UAS, and the chapters in this AC are organized in the same manner.
CHAPTER 4. PART 107 SUBPART A, GENERAL

4.1 Applicability.

This chapter provides guidance regarding the applicability of part 107 to civil small unmanned aircraft operations conducted within the NAS. However, part 107 does not apply to the following:

1. Limited recreational operations of UAS that occur in accordance with Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 448091;

2. Operations conducted outside the United States;

3. Amateur rockets;

4. Moored balloons;

5. Unmanned free balloons;

6. Kites;

7. Public aircraft operations; and

8. Air carrier operations.

Note: Title 49 U.S.C. § 44809(a) states that a person may operate a small unmanned aircraft without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA if the operation adheres to all of the following limitations:

(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for recreational purposes;

(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the FAA;

(3) the aircraft is flown within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the person operating the aircraft or a visual observer (VO) co-located and in direct communication with the operator;

(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft;

(5) in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the operator obtains prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions;

(6) in Class G airspace, the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions;

(7) the operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test described in § 44809(g) and maintains proof of test passage to be made available to the Administrator or law enforcement upon request; and

(8) the aircraft is registered and marked in accordance with 49 U.S.C. chapter 441 and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a designee of the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.

4.2 Definitions.

The following defined terms are used throughout this AC:

4.2.1 Applicant.

A person who submits a declaration of compliance (DOC) to the FAA for review and acceptance. An applicant may be anyone who designs, produces, or modifies a small unmanned aircraft.

4.2.2 Control Station (CS).

An interface used by the remote pilot or the person manipulating the controls to control the flightpath of the small unmanned aircraft.

4.2.3 Corrective Lenses.

Spectacles or contact lenses.

4.2.4 Declaration of Compliance (DOC).

A record submitted to the FAA that certifies the small unmanned aircraft conforms to the Category 2 or Category 3 requirements under part 107 subpart D, as described in Chapter 8, Small Unmanned Aircraft Over People.

4.2.5 Means of Compliance (MOC).

The method an applicant uses to show its small UAS would not exceed the applicable injury severity limit upon impact with a human being, does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would cause lacerations, and does not have any safety defects.

4.2.6 Person Manipulating the Controls.

A person other than the remote pilot in command (PIC) who is controlling the flight of a small unmanned aircraft under the supervision of the remote PIC.

4.2.7 Remote Pilot in Command (Remote PIC or Remote Pilot).

A person who holds a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating and has the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of a small unmanned aircraft operation conducted under part 107.

4.2.8 Small Unmanned Aircraft.

A small unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft, and can be flown without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

4.2.9 Small Unmanned Aircraft System (small UAS).

A small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned aircraft in the NAS.

4.2.10 Unmanned Aircraft.

An aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (part 1, § 1.1).

4.2.11 Visual Observer (VO).

A person the remote PIC designates as a crew member who assists the small unmanned aircraft remote PIC and the person manipulating the controls to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground (part 107, § 107.3).

4.2.12 Voluntary Consensus Standards Body.

Voluntary consensus standards bodies are domestic or international organizations that plan, develop, establish, or coordinate voluntary standards using agreed-upon procedures. A voluntary consensus standards body observes principles such as openness, balance of interest, and due process. These bodies may include nonprofit organizations, industry associations, accredited standards developers, professional and technical societies, committees, task forces, or working groups.

Abbreviations/Acronyms Used in This AC

AAAM – Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine

AC – Advisory Circular

ACR – Airman Certification Representative

ACS – Airman Certification Standards

ACTS – Airman Certificate Testing Service

AD – Airworthiness Directive

ADM – Aeronautical Decision-Making

AELP – Aviation English Language Proficiency

AGL – Above Ground Level

AIM – Aeronautical Information Manual

AIS – Abbreviated Injury Scale

AKTR – Airman Knowledge Test Report

ASI – Aviation Safety Inspector

AST – Aviation Safety Technician

ATC – Air Traffic Control

ATO – Air Traffic Organization

AWC – Aviation Weather Center

C2 – Command and Control

CFI – Certificated Flight Instructor

CFR – Code of Federal Regulations

CG – Center of Gravity

COA – Certificate of Waiver or Authorization

CoW – Certificate of Waiver

CRM – Crew Resource Management

CS – Control Station

DHS – Department of Homeland Security

DOC – Declaration of Compliance

DOT – Department of Transportation

DPE – Designated Pilot Examiner

EDL – Enhanced Driver’s License

EID – Enhanced Identification Card

EMS – Emergency Medical Service

ETC – Enhanced Tribal Card

FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

FAASTeam – FAA Safety Team

FAST – Free and Secure Trade

FCC – Federal Communications Commission

FRIA – FAA-Recognized Identification Area

FSDO – Flight Standards District Office

FTN – FAA Tracking Number

GCS – Ground Control Station

GPS – Global Positioning System

IACRA – Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application

ICA – Instructions for Continued Airworthiness

ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization

INS – Immigration and Naturalization Service

KTC – Knowledge Testing Center

LOC – Loss of Control

METAR – Aviation Routine Weather Report

MMC – Merchant Mariner Credential

MOC – Means of Compliance

mph – Miles per Hour

MSL – Mean Sea Level

NAS – National Airspace System

NOTAM – Notice to Air Missions

NTIA – National Telecommunications and Information Administration

NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board

NWS – National Weather Service

PIC – Pilot in Command

PL – Public Law

RF – Radio Frequency

ROC – Regional Operations Center

sm – Statute Mile

TAF – Terminal Aerodrome Forecast

TFR – Temporary Flight Restriction

TSA – Transportation Security Administration

TWIC – Transportation Worker Identification Credential

UAS – Unmanned Aircraft System

U.S.C. – United States Code

USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

VLOS – Visual Line of Sight

VO – Visual Observer

W&B – Weight and Balance

WINGS – Pilot Proficiency Program

4.3 Falsification, Reproduction, or Alteration.

The FAA relies on information provided by owners and remote pilots of small UAS when it authorizes operations or when it has to make a compliance determination. Accordingly, the United States government may take appropriate action against a small UAS owner, operator, remote PIC, applicant for a DOC, or anyone else who fraudulently or knowingly provides false records or reports, or otherwise reproduces or alters any records, reports, or other information for fraudulent purposes. Such action could include the FAA’s imposition of civil sanctions and the suspension or revocation of a certificate or waiver (§ 107.5).

4.4 Accident Reporting.

The remote PIC of the small unmanned aircraft is required to report an accident to the FAA within 10 days if it meets any of the following thresholds:

1. At least serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations. AIS 3 Example: A person requires hospitalization, but the injury can fully heal (including, but not limited to, head trauma, broken bone(s), or laceration(s) to the skin that requires suturing).

2. Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower). Example: A small unmanned aircraft damages a property with a fair market value of $200, and it would cost $600 to repair the damage. Because the fair market value is below $500, this accident is not required to be reported. Similarly, if the aircraft causes $200 worth of damage to property with a fair market value of $600, that accident is also not required to be reported because the repair cost is below $500 (§ 107.9).

4.4.1 Submitting the Report.

The accident report must be made within 10 calendar-days of the operation that created the injury or damage. The report may be submitted to the appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) electronically or by telephone. Electronic reporting can be completed. To make a report by phone, see Figure 4-1, FAA Regional Operations Centers Telephone List. Reports may also be made to the responsible Flight Standards office. The report should include the following information:

1. Small UAS remote PIC’s name and contact information;

2. Small UAS remote PIC’s FAA airman certificate number;

3. Small UAS registration number issued to the aircraft (FAA registration number);

4. Location of the accident;

5. Date of the accident;

6. Local time of the accident;

7. Whether any serious injury or fatality occurred;

8. Property damaged and extent of damage, if any or known; and 9. Description of what happened.

FAA Regional Operations Centers Telephone List

4.4.2 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Reporting.

In addition to the report submitted to the ROC, and in accordance with the criteria established by the NTSB, certain small unmanned aircraft accidents must also be reported to the NTSB. NTSB’s regulations, codified at 49 CFR part 830, require immediate notification when an aircraft accident occurs. NTSB regulations define an “unmanned aircraft accident” as an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil UAS that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or the aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage. NTSB regulations contain specific definitions for “serious injury” and “substantial damage” (49 CFR part 830, § 830.2).

CHAPTER 5. PART 107 SUBPART B, OPERATING RULES (SMALL UAS)

5.1 Applicability.

This chapter provides guidance regarding small unmanned aircraft operating limitations and the responsibilities of the remote pilot in command (PIC), person manipulating the controls, visual observer (VO), and anyone else who may directly participate in the small UAS operation. A person is a direct participant in the small UAS operation if their involvement is necessary for the safe operation of the small UAS.

5.2 Aircraft Operation.

Just like a manned-aircraft PIC, the remote PIC of a small unmanned aircraft is directly responsible for and is the final authority for the safe operation of the small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.19). Additionally, a person manipulating the controls (who is not the remote PIC) can participate in flight operations under certain conditions. It is important to note that a person may not operate or act as a remote PIC or VO in the operation of more than one small unmanned aircraft at the same time (§ 107.35). The following items describe the requirements for both a remote PIC and a person manipulating the controls.

5.2.1 Remote PIC.

A person acting as a remote PIC of a small UAS under part 107 must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating issued by the FAA prior to small UAS operation (§ 107.12). The remote PIC must have, in that person’s physical possession and readily accessible, this certificate and personal identification during flight operations (§§ 107.7 and 107.67(b)(1) through (3)). Guidance regarding remote pilot certification is found in Chapter 6, Part 107 Subpart C, Remote Pilot Certification.

5.2.1.1 Part 107 permits transfer of control of a small UAS between certificated remote pilots.

Two or more certificated remote pilots transferring operational control (i.e., the remote PIC designation) to each other may do so only if they are both capable of maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the small unmanned aircraft without loss of control (LOC). One remote pilot may be designated the remote PIC at the beginning of the operation, and at some point in the operation another remote pilot may take over as remote PIC by positively communicating the transfer of control. The remote PIC assuming control of the small UAS maintains responsibility for the safe operation of the small UAS.

5.2.2 Person Manipulating the Flight Controls.

A person who does not hold a Remote Pilot Certificate or a remote pilot who has not met the recurrent training requirements of part 107 may operate the small UAS under part 107, as long as they are directly supervised by a remote PIC and the remote PIC has the ability to take immediate, direct control of the small UAS. This ability is necessary to ensure the remote PIC can quickly address any hazardous situation. The ability of the remote PIC to take over the flight controls immediately could be achieved by using a number of different methods. The operation could involve a “buddy box” type system that uses two control stations (CS): one for the person manipulating the flight controls and one for the remote PIC that allows the remote PIC to override the other CS and immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.19). Another method could involve the remote PIC standing close enough to the person manipulating the flight controls so that they would be able to physically take over the CS from the other person. Another method could employ the use of an automation system where the remote PIC could immediately engage that system to put the small unmanned aircraft in a pre-programmed “safe” mode such as a hover, a holding pattern, or “return home.”

5.2.3 Automated Operations.

An automated operation is generally considered an operation in which the remote pilot inputs a flight plan into the CS, which sends the flight plan to the autopilot on board the small unmanned aircraft. During automated flight, flight control inputs are made by components on board the aircraft, not from a CS. If the remote PIC loses the control link to the small unmanned aircraft, the aircraft would continue to fly the programmed mission/return home to land. During automated flight, the remote PIC must have the ability to change routing/altitude or command the aircraft to land immediately. The ability to direct the small unmanned aircraft may be through manual manipulation of the flight controls or through commands using automation.

5.2.3.1 The remote PIC must retain the ability to direct the small unmanned aircraft to ensure compliance with the requirements of part 107.

The remote PIC may transmit a command for the automated aircraft to climb, descend, land now, proceed to a new waypoint, enter an orbit pattern, or return to home. Any of these methods may be used to avoid a hazard or give right-of-way.

5.2.3.2 The use of automation does not allow a person to operate more than one small unmanned aircraft simultaneously (§ 107.35).

5.3 Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) and Crew Resource Management (CRM).

ADM is a systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to determine consistently the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. A remote PIC uses many different resources to safely operate a small unmanned aircraft and needs to be able to manage these resources effectively. CRM is a component of ADM, in which the pilot of a small unmanned aircraft makes effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information. Many remote pilots operating under part 107 may use a VO, oversee other persons manipulating the controls of the small UAS, or any other person with whom the remote PIC may interact to ensure safe operations. Therefore, a remote PIC must be able to function in a team environment and maximize team performance. This skill set includes situational awareness, proper allocation of tasks to individuals, avoidance of work overloads for themselves and in others, and effectively communicating with other members of the crew, such as VOs and persons manipulating the controls of a small unmanned aircraft. Appendix A, Risk Assessment Tools, contains expanded information on ADM and CRM, as well as sample risk assessment tools to aid in identifying hazards and mitigating risks.

5.4 Aircraft Registration.

A small unmanned aircraft must be registered, in accordance with part 47 or part 48, prior to operating under part 107. Part 48 is the regulation that establishes the streamlined online registration option for small unmanned aircraft that will be operated only within the territorial limits of the United States. The FAA provides guidance regarding small unmanned aircraft registration and marking. Alternatively, small unmanned aircraft owners or operators can elect to register under part 47 in the same manner as manned aircraft.

5.4.1 Registration and Permit for Foreign-Owned and Operated Small UAS.

If small UAS operations involve the use of foreign civil aircraft, the operator would need to obtain a Foreign Aircraft Permit pursuant to 14 CFR part 375, as described in § 375.41, before conducting any commercial air operations under this authority. Foreign civil aircraft means

(a) an aircraft of foreign registry that is not part of the armed forces of a foreign nation, or

(b) a U.S.-registered aircraft owned, controlled, or operated by persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Application instructions are specified in § 375.43. Applications should be submitted by electronic mail to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of International Aviation, Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division. Foreign-owned and operated small UAS must be registered, as provided for under part 47 or part 48, including submission of an Affidavit of Ownership for Unmanned Aircraft, if necessary. Additional information. (Refer to Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 44101(b)(1) for exceptions.)

5.5 Small Unmanned Aircraft Maintenance, Inspections, and Condition for Safe Operation.

A small unmanned aircraft must be maintained in a condition for safe operation. Prior to flight, the remote PIC is responsible for conducting a check of the small unmanned aircraft to verify it is actually in a condition for safe operation (§ 107.15). Guidance regarding how to determine that a small unmanned aircraft is in a condition for safe operation is found in Chapter 7, Small Unmanned Aircraft Maintenance and Inspection.

5.6 Medical Condition.

Being able to operate the small unmanned aircraft safely relies on, among other things, the physical and mental capabilities of the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, VO, and any other direct participant in the small UAS operation. Though the person manipulating the controls of a small unmanned aircraft and VO are not required to obtain an airman medical certificate, they cannot participate in the operation of a small UAS if they know or have reason to know that they have a physical or mental condition that could interfere with the safe operation of the small UAS (§ 107.17).

5.6.1 Physical or Mental Incapacitations.

Obvious examples of physical or mental incapacitations that could render a remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO incapable of performing their small UAS operational duties include, but are not limited to, such things as:

1. The temporary or permanent loss of the dexterity necessary to operate the CS to control the small unmanned aircraft safely.

2. The inability to maintain the required “see and avoid” vigilance due to blurred vision.

3. The inability to maintain proper situational awareness of the small unmanned aircraft operations due to illness and/or medication(s), such as after taking medications that caution against driving or operating heavy machinery.

4. A debilitating physical condition, such as a migraine headache or moderate or severe body ache(s) or pain(s) that would render the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO unable to perform small UAS operational duties.

5. A hearing or speaking impairment that would inhibit the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO from effectively communicating with each other. In such a situation, the remote PIC must ensure they implement an alternative means of effective communication. For example, a person who is hearing impaired may be able to use sign language to communicate effectively.

5.7 Civil Twilight and Operations at Night.

Night is defined in § 1.1 as the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in The Air Almanac, converted to local time. In the continental United States, evening civil twilight is the period of sunset until 30 minutes after sunset and morning civil twilight is the period of 30 minutes prior to sunrise until sunrise. In Alaska, the definition of civil twilight differs and is described in The Air Almanac. The Air Almanac provides tables to determine sunrise and sunset at various latitudes. These tables can also be downloaded from the Naval Observatory and customized for a particular location.

5.7.1 Civil Twilight Operations.

When small UAS operations occur during civil twilight, the small unmanned aircraft must be equipped with anti-collision lighting visible for at least 3 statute miles (sm). However, the remote PIC may reduce the visible distance of the lighting to less than 3 sm during flight if they have determined that it would be in the interest of safety to do so. For more information on this determination, see paragraph 5.7.2.2.

5.7.2 Operations at Night.

Small UAS operations at night may occur only under the two risk mitigation measures listed in § 107.29. First, the remote PIC must have completed either an initial knowledge test or recurrent training that have been updated to include night operations. Second, the small unmanned aircraft must have lighted anti-collision lighting that is visible for at least 3 sm. The remote pilot may rely upon manufacturer statements indicating the anti-collision lighting is visible for 3 sm. However, the remote pilot ultimately remains responsible for verifying that anti-collision lighting is operational, visible for 3 sm, and has a flash rate sufficient to avoid a collision at the operating location.

5.7.2.1 A certificated remote pilot receives night operations privileges and may operate at night only after completing either a knowledge test that contains questions on night physiology and night visual illusions, or through completion of recurrent training. The recurrent training contains the topics of night physiology and night visual illusions. Chapter 6 provides a detailed explanation of both paths for night operations privileges.
5.7.2.2 As is the case for civil twilight operations, the small unmanned aircraft must be equipped with anti-collision lighting that is visible for at least 3 sm. However, the remote PIC may reduce the intensity of the light if the remote PIC determines it is in the interest of safety to do so. For example, a bright light or a bright strobe light on the small unmanned aircraft in very close proximity to the remote pilot could cause the remote pilot to lose the ability to observe the small unmanned aircraft’s location, speed, attitude, or altitude with accuracy. The remote pilot maintains the discretion to reduce the intensity of the anti-collision lighting when they determine it would be in the best interest of safety to do so. Discretion is an important component of § 107.19, which states that the remote PIC is directly responsible for the operation of the small unmanned aircraft. The remote PIC must ensure the operation of the small unmanned aircraft complies with all regulations of part 107. This includes the requirement to maintain the capability of visually observing the small unmanned aircraft. Section 107.29 does not require small unmanned aircraft operating during the day to have illuminated small unmanned aircraft anti-collision lighting. Lighting is generally not effective for mitigating risk of collision during daytime operations. Remote pilots may exercise their discretion, however, and elect to have lighting on during all daytime operations.

5.7.2.3 A remote PIC or operator may request a waiver of the anti-collision lighting requirement for operations at night and during civil twilight. The process for requesting a waiver is two-fold: the requester must

(1) fully describe the proposed operation, and

(2) establish the operation can be safely conducted under the terms of a Certificate of Waiver (CoW).

Paragraph 5.20 below describes the application process for waivers.

5.8 Operations Over Open-Air Assemblies of Persons.

Remote pilots are prohibited from operating a small unmanned aircraft as a Category 1, 2, or 4 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies, unless the operation meets the requirements of 14 CFR part 89, § 89.110 or § 89.115(a). Category 3 operations are not allowed over an open-air assembly of persons.

Note: See paragraphs 8.3.2 and 8.3.6.4 for more information regarding open-air assemblies of persons.

5.9 VLOS Aircraft Operation.

The remote PIC and person manipulating the controls must be able to see the small unmanned aircraft at all times during flight (§ 107.31). The small unmanned aircraft must be operated closely enough to ensure visibility requirements are met during small UAS operations. This requirement also applies to the VO, if used, during the aircraft operation. The person maintaining VLOS may have brief moments in which they are not looking directly at or cannot see the small unmanned aircraft, but still retain the capability to see the small unmanned aircraft or quickly maneuver it back to VLOS. These moments may be necessary for the remote PIC to look at the controller to determine remaining battery life or for operational awareness. Should the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls lose VLOS of the small unmanned aircraft, they must regain VLOS as soon as practicable. Even though the remote PIC may briefly lose sight of the small unmanned aircraft, the remote PIC always has the see-and-avoid responsibilities set out in §§ 107.31 and 107.37. The circumstances that may prevent a remote PIC from fulfilling those responsibilities will vary, depending on factors such as the type of small UAS, the operational environment, and distance between the remote PIC and the small unmanned aircraft. For this reason, no specific time interval exists in which interruption of VLOS is permissible, as it would have the effect of potentially allowing a hazardous interruption of the operation. If the remote PIC cannot regain VLOS, the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls should follow pre-determined procedures for the loss of VLOS. The capabilities of the small UAS will govern the remote PIC’s determination as to the appropriate course of action. For example, the remote PIC may need to land the small unmanned aircraft immediately, enter hover mode, or employ a return-to-home sequence. The VLOS requirement does not prohibit actions such as scanning the airspace or briefly looking down at the small unmanned aircraft CS.

5.9.1 Unaided Vision.

VLOS must be accomplished and maintained by unaided vision, except vision that is corrected by the use of eyeglasses (spectacles) or contact lenses. Vision aids, such as binoculars, may be used only momentarily to enhance situational awareness. For example, the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO may use vision aids to avoid inadvertently flying over persons or conflicting with other aircraft. First person view devices may be used during operations, but do not satisfy the VLOS requirement.

5.9.2 VO. The use of a VO is optional.

The remote PIC may choose to use a VO to supplement situational awareness and VLOS. Although the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls must maintain the capability to see the small unmanned aircraft, using one or more VOs allows the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls to conduct other mission-critical duties (such as checking displays) while still ensuring situational awareness of the small unmanned aircraft. The VO must be able to communicate effectively with regard to the following:

• The small unmanned aircraft location, attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;

• The position of other aircraft or hazards in the airspace; and

• The determination that the small unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another (§ 107.33).

5.9.2.1 To ensure the VO can carry out their duties, the remote PIC must ensure the VO is positioned in a location where the VO is able to see the small unmanned aircraft sufficiently to maintain VLOS.

The remote PIC can do this by specifying the location of the VO. The FAA also requires the remote PIC and VO coordinate to

(1) scan the airspace where the small unmanned aircraft is operating for any potential collision hazard, and

(2) maintain awareness of the position of the small unmanned aircraft through direct visual observation (§ 107.33).

The remote PIC and VO would accomplish this by the VO communicating to the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls the flight status of the small unmanned aircraft and any collision hazards which may enter the area of operation, so that the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls can take appropriate action. The VO’s visual observation of the small unmanned aircraft and surrounding airspace would enable the VO to inform the remote PIC of the status.

5.9.2.2 To make this communication possible, the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, and VO must work out a method of effective communication that does not create a distraction. Such a means of communication entails the constant ability to understand one another. The communication method must be determined prior to operation. Effective communication would permit the use of communication-assisting devices, such as a handheld radio, to facilitate communication from a distance.

5.9.3 VLOS at Night.

Prior to a small UAS operation at night, the remote PIC should ensure they will be able to keep the small unmanned aircraft within the intended area of operation and within VLOS for the duration of the operation. In almost all cases involving operations at night, the remote PIC may need to restrict the operational area of the small unmanned aircraft. Reduced lighting and contrast at night may make it difficult for remote pilots to fulfill the requirements of § 107.31(a), requiring remote pilots to maintain the capability of visually discerning the location, attitude, altitude, and direction of the flight of the aircraft. A remote pilot cannot solely rely on the small unmanned aircraft’s anti-collision lighting, Ground Control Station (GCS) telemetry data displays, or a combination of the two for compliance with § 107.31.

5.10 Operation Near Airports, in Certain Airspace, in Prohibited or Restricted Areas, or in the Proximity of Certain Areas Designated by a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM).

Small unmanned aircraft may operate in controlled or uncontrolled airspace. Operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not permitted unless that person has prior authorization from air traffic control (ATC) (§ 107.41). Information concerning the current authorization process. The remote PIC must understand airspace classifications and requirements. Failure to do so could be contrary to part 107 regulations and may potentially have an adverse effect on the safety of operations. Small UAS operating under part 107 may not be subject to part 91 requirements, because the equipage and communications requirements outlined in part 91 were designed to provide safety and efficiency in the National Airspace System (NAS). ATC authorizations may depend on operational parameters similar to those found in part 91. The FAA has the authority to approve or deny aircraft operations based on traffic density, controller workload, communication issues, or any other type of operation that could potentially impact the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic in that airspace.

5.10.1 Small Unmanned Aircraft Operations Near an Airport—Notification and Permissions.

Unless the flight is conducted within controlled airspace, no notification or authorization is necessary to operate a small unmanned aircraft at or near an airport. When operating in the vicinity of an airport, the remote PIC must be aware of and avoid all traffic patterns and approach corridors to runways and landing areas. The remote PIC must avoid operating in any area in which the presence of the small UAS may interfere with operations at the airport, such as approach corridors, taxiways, runways, or helipads (§ 107.43). The remote PIC must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, including aircraft operating on the surface of the airport (§ 107.43).

5.10.1.1 Remote PICs are prohibited from operating a small unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at airports, heliports, and seaplane bases (§ 107.43). Small unmanned aircraft must always yield right-of-way to a manned aircraft. A manned aircraft may alter its flightpath, delay its landing, or take off in order to avoid a small unmanned aircraft that may present a potential conflict or otherwise affect the safe outcome of the flight. A small unmanned aircraft hovering 200 feet above a runway may cause a manned aircraft holding short of the runway to delay takeoff, or a manned aircraft on the downwind leg of the pattern to delay landing. While the small unmanned aircraft in this scenario would not present an immediate traffic conflict to the aircraft on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern or to the aircraft intending to take off, nor would it violate the right-of-way provision of § 107.37(a), the small unmanned aircraft would have interfered with the operations of the traffic pattern at an airport.
5.10.1.2 In order to avoid interfering with operations in a traffic pattern, remote PICs should avoid operating in the traffic pattern or published approach corridors used by manned aircraft. When operational necessity requires the remote PIC to operate at an airport in uncontrolled airspace, the remote PIC should operate the small unmanned aircraft in such a way that the manned aircraft pilot does not need to alter their flightpath in the traffic pattern or on a published instrument approach in order to avoid a potential collision.

5.10.2 Air Traffic Organization (ATO).

When receiving requests for authorization to operate in controlled airspace, ATO does not approve or deny small unmanned aircraft operations on the basis of equipage that exceeds the part 107 requirements. Additional equipage and technologies, such as geo-fencing, have not been certificated by the FAA and need to be examined on a case-by-case basis in order for the FAA to determine their reliability and functionality. Additionally, requiring staff from ATO to review equipage would place a burden on ATO and detract from other duties. Instead of seeking an authorization, a remote pilot who wishes to operate in controlled airspace because the remote pilot can demonstrate mitigations through equipage may do so by applying for a CoW (see paragraph 5.20).

5.10.3 Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR).

Certain TFRs may be imposed by way of a NOTAM. The remote PIC must check for NOTAMs before each flight to determine whether any airspace restrictions apply to the operation. 

5.10.4 Type of Airspace.

Remote PICs must also be aware of the type of airspace in which they will be operating their small unmanned aircraft. Referring to the B4UFly app or a current aeronautical chart of the intended operating area will aid the small unmanned aircraft remote PIC’s decision making regarding operations in the NAS.

5.11 Preflight Familiarization, Inspection, and Actions for Aircraft Operation.

The remote PIC must complete a preflight familiarization, inspection, and other actions, such as crew member briefings, prior to beginning flight operations (§ 107.49). The FAA has produced many publications providing in-depth information on topics such as aviation weather, aircraft loading and performance, emergency procedures, risk mitigation, ADM, and airspace, which should all be considered prior to operations (see Appendix E, Sample Preflight Assessment and Inspection Checklist). Additionally, all remote pilots are encouraged to review FAA publications (see paragraph 2.3).

5.11.1 Prior to Flight.

The remote PIC must:

1. Conduct an assessment of the operating environment. The assessment must include at least the following:

• Local weather conditions;

• Local airspace and any flight restrictions;

• The location of persons and moving vehicles not directly participating in the operation, and property on the surface;

• If conducting operations over people or moving vehicles, ensure their small unmanned aircraft is eligible for the category or categories of operations (see Chapter 8);

• Consider the potential for persons and moving vehicles not directly participating in operations entering the operational area for the duration of the operation;

• Consider whether the operation will be conducted over an open-air assembly of persons; and

• Other ground hazards.

Note: Remote pilots are prohibited from operating a small unmanned aircraft as a Category 1, 2, or 4 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies unless the operation meets the requirements of § 89.110 or § 89.115(a).

2. Ensure all persons directly participating in the small UAS operation are informed about the following:

• Operating conditions;

• Emergency procedures; 

• Contingency procedures, including those for persons or moving vehicles not directly participating in the operation that enter the operational area;

• Roles and responsibilities of each person participating in the operation; and

• Potential hazards.

3. Ensure all control links between the CS and the small unmanned aircraft are working properly. Before each flight, the remote PIC must determine the small unmanned aircraft flight control surfaces necessary for the safety of flight are moving correctly through the manipulation of the small unmanned aircraft CS. If the remote PIC observes that one or more of the control surfaces are not responding correctly to CS inputs, then the remote PIC may not conduct flight operations until correct movement of all flight control surface(s) is established.

4. Ensure sufficient power exists to continue controlled flight operations to a normal landing. This can be accomplished by following the small UAS manufacturer’s operating manual power consumption tables. Another method would be to include a system on the small UAS that detects power levels and alerts the remote pilot when remaining aircraft power is diminishing to a level that is inadequate for continued flight operation.

5. Ensure the small unmanned aircraft anti-collision light(s) function(s) properly prior to any flight that will occur during civil twilight or at night. The remote PIC must also consider, during their preflight check, whether the anti-collision light(s) could reduce the amount of power available to the small unmanned aircraft. The remote PIC may need to reduce the planned duration of the small unmanned aircraft operation to ensure sufficient power exists to maintain the illuminated anti-collision light(s) and to ensure sufficient power exists for the small unmanned aircraft to proceed to a normal landing.

6. Ensure any object attached or carried by the small unmanned aircraft is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.

7. Ensure all necessary documentation is available for inspection, including the remote PIC’s Remote Pilot Certificate, identification, aircraft registration, and CoW, if applicable (§ 107.7).

5.11.2 Safety Risk Assessment.

These preflight familiarizations, inspections, and actions can be accomplished as part of an overall safety risk assessment. The FAA encourages the remote PIC to conduct the overall safety risk assessment as a method of compliance with the restriction on operating over any person who is not directly involved in the operation, unless the small unmanned aircraft is eligible for an operation over people in accordance with part 107 subpart D. The safety risk assessment also assists with ensuring the small unmanned aircraft will remain clear of other aircraft. Appendix A provides additional guidance on how to conduct an overall safety risk assessment. 

5.12 Operating Limitations for Small Unmanned Aircraft.

Operations of the small unmanned aircraft must comply with the following limitations:

• Cannot be flown faster than a groundspeed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour (mph));

• Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL), unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit;

• Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the CS, may not be less than 3 sm; and

• Minimum distance from clouds being no less than 500 feet below a cloud and no less than 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud (§ 107.51).

Note: These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot’s ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take appropriate actions to maintain safety.

5.12.1 Determining Groundspeed.

Many different types of small unmanned aircraft and different ways to determine groundspeed exist. This guidance will only touch on some of the possible means for the remote PIC to ensure the small unmanned aircraft does not exceed a groundspeed of 87 knots during flight operations. Examples of methods to ensure compliance with this limitation are:

• Installing a Global Positioning System (GPS) device on the small unmanned aircraft that reports groundspeed information to the remote pilot, allowing the remote pilot to determine the wind direction and speed and calculate the small unmanned aircraft airspeed for a given direction of flight;

• Timing the groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft when it is flown between two or more fixed points, considering wind speed and direction between each point, then noting the power settings of the small unmanned aircraft to operate at or less than 87 knots groundspeed; or

• Using the small unmanned aircraft’s manufacturer design limitations (e.g., installed groundspeed limiters).

5.12.2 Determining Altitude.

In order to comply with the maximum altitude requirements of part 107, a remote pilot may determine altitude by:

• Installing a calibrated altitude reporting device on the small unmanned aircraft that reports the small unmanned aircraft altitude above mean sea level (MSL) to the remote pilot, who subtracts the MSL elevation of the CS from the small unmanned aircraft reported MSL altitude to determine the small unmanned aircraft AGL altitude above the terrain or structure;

• Installing a GPS device on the small unmanned aircraft that has the capability of reporting MSL altitude to the remote pilot; 

• Having the remote pilot and VO pace off 400 feet from the small unmanned aircraft while it is on the ground to get a visual perspective of distance so that the remote pilot and VO can recognize and maintain that visual perspective (or closer) when the small unmanned aircraft is in flight; or

• Using the known height of local rising terrain and/or structures as a reference.

5.12.3 Visibility and Distance from Clouds.

The remote PIC must determine that the visibility from the CS is at least 3 sm and that the small unmanned aircraft maintains at least 500 feet below clouds and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from clouds. Obtaining local aviation weather reports that include current and forecast weather conditions is one means of determining visibility and cloud clearance. If there is more than one local aviation reporting station near the operating area, the remote PIC should choose the closest one that is most representative of the terrain surrounding the operating area. If local aviation weather reports are not available, the remote PIC cannot operate the small unmanned aircraft until they are able to determine the required visibility and cloud clearances by other reliable means. The small unmanned aircraft cannot be operated above any cloud, and there cannot be obstructions to visibility, such as smoke or a cloud, between the small unmanned aircraft and the remote PIC (§ 107.39).

5.13 Remaining Clear of Other Aircraft.

A remote PIC has a responsibility to operate the small unmanned aircraft so that it remains clear of and yields to all other aircraft (§ 107.37). This is traditionally referred to as “see and avoid.” To satisfy this responsibility, the remote PIC must know the location and flightpath of their small unmanned aircraft at all times. The remote PIC must be aware of other aircraft, persons, and property in the vicinity of the operating area, and maneuver the small unmanned aircraft to avoid collision. The remote PIC must take action to ensure other aircraft will not need to maneuver to avoid colliding with the small unmanned aircraft.

5.14 Operations from Moving Vehicles.

Part 107 permits operation of a small unmanned aircraft from a moving land or water-borne vehicle over a sparsely-populated area. However, operation from a moving aircraft is prohibited. Additionally, small unmanned aircraft transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire may not be operated from any moving vehicle (§ 107.25).

5.14.1 Waiving the Sparsely-Populated Area Provision.

Although the regulation states that operations from a moving vehicle may only be conducted over a sparsely-populated area, this provision may be waived (§§ 107.200 and 107.205). The operation is subject to the same restrictions that apply to all other part 107 operations. The remote PIC operating from a moving vehicle is still required to maintain VLOS. The remote PIC is also responsible for ensuring that no person is subject to undue risk as a result of LOC of the small unmanned aircraft for any reason. If a VO is not located in the same vehicle as the remote PIC, the VO and remote PIC must still maintain effective communication.

5.14.2 Applicable Laws.

Other laws, such as State and local traffic laws, may apply to a person driving a vehicle and operating an unmanned aircraft from the vehicle. When operating a small UAS from a moving vehicle, the FAA emphasizes that people involved in the operation are responsible for complying with applicable State and local laws as well as FAA regulations.

5.15 Transportation of Property.

Part 107 permits transportation of property by small unmanned aircraft for compensation or hire. These operations must be conducted within a confined area and in compliance with the operating restrictions of part 107. When transporting property, the transport must occur wholly within the bounds of a single State.

5.15.1 Limitations.

As with other operations in part 107, small UAS operations involving the transport of property must be conducted within VLOS of the remote pilot. While the VLOS limitation can be waived for some operations under the rule, it cannot for transportation of property. Additionally, part 107 does not allow the operation of a small UAS from a moving vehicle or aircraft if the small unmanned aircraft is being used to transport property for compensation or hire. This limitation cannot be waived. The maximum total weight of the small unmanned aircraft (including any property being transported) is limited to under 55 pounds. Other provisions of part 107 require the remote pilot to know the small unmanned aircraft’s location; to determine the small unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction; to yield the right-of-way to other aircraft; and to maintain the ability to see and avoid other aircraft.

5.15.2 Hazardous Materials.

Section 107.36 prohibits the carriage of hazardous materials by small unmanned aircraft. The carriage of any hazardous material on a small unmanned aircraft may only occur if the operator holds an exemption that permits such carriage. Title 14 CFR part 11 applies to petitions for exemption.

5.16 Operations While Impaired.

Part 107 does not allow operation of a small UAS if the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO is unable to carry out their responsibilities safely (§ 107.27). It is the remote PIC’s responsibility to ensure all crew members are not impaired while participating in the operation. While drug and alcohol use are known to impair judgment, certain over-the-counter medications and medical conditions could also affect the ability to operate a small unmanned aircraft safely. For example, certain antihistamines and decongestants may cause drowsiness. Additionally, part 107 prohibits a person from serving as a remote PIC, VO, or other crew member, or manipulating the controls, if they:

• Consumed any alcoholic beverage within the preceding 8 hours;

• Are under the influence of alcohol;

• Have a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent or greater; or

• Are using a drug that affects the person’s mental or physical capabilities (§ 91.17).

5.16.1 Medical Conditions.

Certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, may also create a risk to operations. It is the responsibility of remote PICs to determine that their medical condition is under control and they can safely conduct a small UAS operation. 

5.17 Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Remote identification requirements are contained in part 89. The information contained in this AC covers the remote identification operational requirements that are relevant to all part 107 operators. Additional information related to remote identification is available in the following ACs:

• AC 89-1, Means of Compliance Process for Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft.

• AC 89-2, Declaration of Compliance Process for Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft.

5.17.1 After September 16, 2023, most small unmanned aircraft that are registered or required to be registered must comply with remote identification requirements. The serial number of a standard remote identification unmanned aircraft, or of the remote identification broadcast module, if one is installed on the unmanned aircraft, must be listed on the Certificate of Aircraft Registration. The serial number may only be listed on one Certificate of Aircraft Registration at a time. The remote identification broadcast module may be moved from one unmanned aircraft operated under part 107 to another, but the serial number must also be moved from the first aircraft’s Certificate of Aircraft Registration to the second aircraft’s certificate prior to operation. Small unmanned aircraft that are not required to be registered under part 48, such as those where the unmanned aircraft weighs 0.55 pounds or less, must comply with remote identification requirements when operated under any operating part for which registration is required. Remote identification provides data regarding the location and identification of small unmanned aircraft operating in the NAS. It also provides airspace awareness to the FAA, national security agencies, and law enforcement entities, which can be used to distinguish compliant airspace users from those potentially posing a safety or security risk. A list of unmanned aircraft by make and model that are compliant with remote identification will be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas, when developed.

5.17.2 Standard remote identification unmanned aircraft broadcast certain message elements over radio frequency (RF) spectrum. These message elements include:

Unmanned Aircraft Identification (either the unmanned aircraft’s serial number or session ID);

latitude, longitude, and geometric altitude of both the CS and the unmanned aircraft;

the velocity of the unmanned aircraft (including horizontal and vertical speed and direction);

a time mark; and

an emergency status code (§ 89.110).

5.17.3 Small unmanned aircraft without remote identification.

Small unmanned aircraft that are not standard remote identification unmanned aircraft may operate in one of two ways: the small unmanned aircraft may be equipped with a remote identification broadcast module, or the small unmanned aircraft may be operated within an FAA-recognized identification area (FRIA) (§ 89.115).

5.17.3.1 Unmanned aircraft equipped with remote identification modules may be integrated by the manufacturer (e.g., if a manufacturer upgraded or retrofit the aircraft) or a standalone broadcast module installed by the user secured to the unmanned aircraft prior to takeoff. The remote identification broadcast module broadcasts certain message elements directly from the unmanned aircraft over RF spectrum. These message elements include:

the Unmanned Aircraft Identification, the unmanned aircraft’s serial number;

latitude, longitude, and geometric altitude of the unmanned aircraft;

latitude, longitude, and geometric altitude of the takeoff location;

the velocity of the unmanned aircraft (including horizontal and vertical speed and direction); and

a time mark. Small unmanned aircraft using a remote identification broadcast module must be operated within VLOS (§ 89.115(a)).

5.17.3.2 A person operating a small unmanned aircraft that is not a standard remote identification unmanned aircraft may also operate within VLOS within a FRIA, regardless of the type of operation conducted (e.g., part 91, 107, or other). You will be able to access a list of FRIAs at https://www.faa.gov/uas when available (§ 89.115).

5.18 In-Flight Emergency.

An in-flight emergency is an unexpected and unforeseen serious occurrence or situation that requires urgent, prompt action. In the case of an in-flight emergency, the remote PIC is permitted to deviate from any rule of part 107 to the extent necessary to respond to that emergency. A remote PIC who exercises this emergency power is required, upon the FAA’s request, to send a written report to the FAA explaining the deviation. Emergency action should be taken in such a way as to minimize injury or damage to property (§ 107.21).

5.19 Careless or Reckless Operation.

As with manned aircraft, remote PICs are prohibited from engaging in a careless or reckless operation (§ 107.23). Because small UAS have additional operating considerations that are not present in manned aircraft operations, additional activity may amount to careless or reckless operation if conducted using a small UAS. For example, careless or reckless operation may consist of failure to consider weather conditions near structures, trees, or rolling terrain when operating in a densely populated area.

5.20 Certificate of Waiver.

Part 107 includes the option to apply for a CoW. This CoW will allow a small UAS operation to deviate from certain provisions of part 107 if the Administrator finds that the proposed operation can be safely conducted under the terms of that CoW (§ 107.200). A list of the sections of part 107 subject to waiver are listed below:

• Section 107.25: Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft.

• Section 107.29(a)(2) and (b): Anti-collision light required for operations at night and during periods of civil twilight.

• Section 107.31: Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

• Section 107.33: Visual observer.

• Section 107.35: Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.

• Section 107.37(a): Yielding the right-of-way. 

• Section 107.39: Operation over people.

• Section 107.41: Operation in certain airspace.

• Section 107.51: Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

• Section 107.145: Operations over moving vehicles.

5.20.1 Applying for a CoW.

A CoW can be requested by following the instructions and submitting an application.

5.20.2 Application Process.

The application must contain a complete description of the proposed operation and a justification, including supporting data and documentation (as necessary), that establishes the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a CoW. A complete listing of Waiver Safety Explanation Guidelines is posted to the FAA’s website to assist waiver applicants in preparing their proposals and justifications for applications for waiver. Although not required by part 107, the FAA encourages waiver applicants to submit their application at least 90 days prior to the start of the proposed operation. The FAA will strive to complete review and adjudication of waivers within 90 days; however, the time required for the FAA to make a determination regarding waiver requests will vary based on the complexity of the request. The amount of data and analysis required as part of the application will be proportional to the specific relief that is requested. For example, a request to waive several sections of part 107 for an operation that takes place in a congested metropolitan area with heavy air traffic will likely require significantly more data and analyses than a request to waive a single section for an operation that takes place in a sparsely-populated area with minimal air traffic. If a CoW is granted, that certificate may include specific special provisions designed to ensure the small UAS operation may be conducted as safely as one conducted under the provisions of part 107. A listing of standard special provisions for part 107 waivers is available on the FAA’s website.

5.21 Supplemental Operational Information.

Appendix B, Supplemental Operational Information, contains expanded information regarding operational topics that should be considered prior to operations.

CHAPTER 6. PART 107 SUBPART C, REMOTE PILOT CERTIFICATION

6.1 Applicability.

This chapter provides guidance regarding the airman certification requirements and procedures for persons acting as remote pilot in command (PIC) of a small UAS operated in the National Airspace System (NAS). In the aviation context, the FAA typically refers to “licensing” as “certification.”

6.2 Remote Pilot Certification.

An individual exercising the authority of PIC in compliance with part 107 is considered a “remote PIC.” As such, prior to acting as remote PIC, an individual must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating (§ 107.12).

6.3 Eligibility.

Pursuant to the requirements of § 107.61, an individual applying for a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating must meet the following eligibility requirements, as applicable:

• Be at least 16 years of age.

• Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

Note: Please refer to § 107.17 for small UAS operating prohibitions for an individual with known medical conditions.

• Be in a physical and mental condition that would not interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.

• Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center (KTC).

However, an individual who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61, other than a student pilot certificate, and meets the flight review requirements specified in part 61, § 61.56 is only required to complete successfully a part 107 online training.

For more information concerning aeronautical knowledge tests and training, see paragraphs 6.7 and 6.8. 6.4 Application Process. This paragraph provides guidance on how an individual can apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate (§ 107.63).

6.4.1 Remote Pilot Applicants Without Part 61 Certificates.

An individual who does not hold a part 61 pilot certificate or a part 61 certificate holder who does not meet the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 must use the following process. A part 61 pilot who meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 may elect to use this process.

1. Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test administered at a KTC (see paragraphs 6.7 and 6.8).

2. Complete and submit the Remote Pilot Certificate and/or Rating Application for a Remote Pilot Certificate (FAA Form 8710-13).

• Option 1 (Online Form): This is the fastest and simplest method. The FAA Form 8710-13 application should be completed online using the electronic FAA Integrated Airmen Certificate and Rating Application (IACRA) system. An applicant seeking a Remote Pilot Certificate must have already passed an initial Remote Pilot aeronautical knowledge test. Once registered with IACRA, the applicant will log in with their username and password. Click on “Start New Application” and

(1) Application Type: “Pilot,”

(2) Certifications: “Initial Remote Pilot,”

(3) “Other Path Information,” and

(4) “Start Application.”

Continue through the application process and, when prompted, the applicant may select the knowledge test information provided or enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID from the knowledge test in IACRA. Knowledge Test Reports upload immediately to the IACRA system. This allows processing the application for certification without any delay after passing the test. The KTC test proctor verifies the identity of the applicant. Once the applicant completes the online application in IACRA, the applicant signs the application electronically and submits it to the Airman Registry for processing. No FAA representative will be required to sign the application if the applicant was able to self-certify.

Note: When an applicant seeking a Remote Pilot Certificate uses this online option, the application transmits electronically from the applicant to the Airman Registry. The only electronic signature reflected on the IACRA application will be the applicant’s. The Registry confirms basic airman information with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prior to generating a Temporary Airman Certificate. Once completed, the applicant receives a confirmation email allowing the applicant to log into the IACRA system and print a copy of the temporary certificate.

• Option 2 (Paper Application): An applicant seeking a Remote Pilot Certificate could also submit a paper application. If the applicant chooses the paper method, the original Remote Pilot initial aeronautical knowledge test report must be mailed with the application to the following address: DOT/FAA Airmen Certification Branch (AFB-720) P.O. Box 25082 Oklahoma City, OK 73125

Note: A Temporary Airman Certificate will not be provided to the remote pilot applicant if the applicant does not hold a part 61 certificate. For this reason, it would be in the applicant’s best interest to utilize Option 1 (IACRA system) instead of the paper method, in order to receive a Temporary Airman Certificate once the application has completed the TSA vetting process.

3. Receive permanent Remote Pilot Certificate once all other FAA internal processing is complete.

6.4.2 Applicants with Part 61 Certificates.

Instead of the process described above, an individual who holds a part 61 pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 may elect to apply using the following process:

1. Complete the online Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (small UAS) training located within the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) website (https://www.faasafety.gov) and receive a completion certificate.

2. Complete the Remote Pilot Certificate and/or Rating Application for a Remote Pilot Certificate (FAA Form 8710-13).

• Option 1 (Online Application): In almost all cases, the application should be completed online using the electronic FAA IACRA system. The applicant must include verification that the applicant completed the online training or passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test. The applicable official document(s) must be uploaded into IACRA either by the applicant or the certifying official.

• Option 2 (Paper): The application may be completed on paper. Using this method, the certificate of completion for the online training must be included with the application. A part 61 pilot, who also meets the requirements of § 61.56, may also take the knowledge test for initial certification. If a part 61 pilot decides to take the knowledge test, the pilot must also include the knowledge test report with their paper application. Please note that the processing time will be increased if a paper application is used.

3. Contact a certifying official such as the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), an Airman Certification Representative (ACR), or a certificated flight instructor (CFI) to make an appointment to validate the applicant’s identification. The applicant must present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online training completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of meeting the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56. The FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by the applicant after the certifying official examines the applicant’s photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity. The FAA representative will then sign the application. The identification presented must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form of identification. Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military identification cards (see Appendix D, Remote Pilot Certification and Applicant Identity Verification). If using paper or IACRA method, an appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will issue the applicant a Temporary Airman Certificate.

Note: A CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate. The applicant can print their own Temporary Airman Certificate after receiving an email from the FAA notifying the applicant that it is available. The FSDO signs and mails the application to AFB-720 for the issuance of the permanent certificate. Flight instructors may refer to AC 61-141.

6.5 Security Disqualification.

After the FAA receives the application, the TSA will vet the applicant prior to issuance of a temporary Remote Pilot Certificate. If the vetting is successful, the FAA will issue a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate. If the vetting is not successful, the applicant will be disqualified and a temporary or permanent pilot certificate will not be issued. Individuals who believe they improperly failed a security threat assessment may appeal the decision to the TSA.

6.6 FAA Tracking Number (FTN) Requirement.

Beginning January 13, 2020, all applicants must establish an FTN within IACRA before taking any FAA airman knowledge test.

• This identification number will be printed on the applicant’s Airman Knowledge Test Report (AKTR) in replacement of the Applicant ID number.

• To register for an FTN in IACRA, applicants will need to visit the IACRA website and follow the instructions provided.

• You can access IACRA

• Once you have your FTN, you can register to take your FAA Airman Knowledge Test by going to the following registration and scheduling website operated by PSI Services LLC

• You can find FTN Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

• You can find a video about the registration process for an FTN in IACRA below.

 

 

6.7 Aeronautical Knowledge Test.

The FAA publishes the Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standards (ACS) that provides the standards for the Knowledge Test. Materials helpful for preparation.

Note: The following information regarding the knowledge test applies to individuals who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate.

6.7.1 Knowledge Test.

As described in paragraph 6.4, an individual applying for a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test given at an FAA-approved KTC.

In order to take an aeronautical knowledge test, an applicant must schedule an appointment with the KTC.

On the day of scheduled testing, the applicant must provide proper government-issued photo identification to KTC.

The location of the closest KTC.

The knowledge test will cover the aeronautical knowledge areas listed below:

1. Applicable regulations relating to small UAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

2. Airspace classification, operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operations;

3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;

4. Small unmanned aircraft loading;

5. Emergency procedures;

6. Crew Resource Management (CRM);

7. Radio communication procedures;

8. Determining the performance of the small unmanned aircraft;

9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol;

10. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and judgment;

11. Airport operations;

12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures; and

13. Operation at night.

6.7.1.1 A part 61 certificate holder who meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 may complete training instead of taking the knowledge test (see paragraph 6.7). This training includes the following topics:

1. Applicable regulations relating to small UAS rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation;

2. Effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance;

3. Small unmanned aircraft loading;

4. Emergency procedures;

5. CRM;

6. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft;

7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures; and

8. Operation at night.

6.7.2 Recurrent Training.

After an individual receives a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating, that individual must retain the level of knowledge required to safely operate a small UAS in the NAS. To continue exercising the privileges of a Remote Pilot Certificate, the certificate holder must successfully complete recurrent training within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial knowledge test or initial knowledge training.

Figure 6-1, Recurrent Training Cycle Examples, illustrates an individual’s potential renewal cycles.

 

Recurrent Training Cycle Examples

6.8 Aeronautical Knowledge Training.

This paragraph is applicable to individuals who hold a part 61 airman certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, and meet the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56.

6.8.1 Training.

As described in paragraph 6.7, an individual who holds a part 61 airman certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56 may complete training instead of the initial knowledge test. The training can be taken online.

The FAA offers options for training completion.

Other options include completion of special pilot proficiency programs, such as an FAA-provided WINGS course specific to small UAS operations. These programs will offer tools and resources to strengthen decision-making skills and enable the remote pilot to continue to ensure they operate safely within the bounds of part 107.

CHAPTER 7. SMALL UAS MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION

7.1 Applicability.

Section 107.15 requires the remote PIC to perform checks of the small unmanned aircraft prior to each flight to determine whether the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation. This chapter provides guidance on how to inspect and maintain a small UAS. Additionally, Appendix C, Small UAS Maintenance and Inspection Best Practices, contains expanded information and best practices for small UAS maintenance and inspection.

7.2 Maintenance.

Small UAS maintenance includes scheduled and unscheduled overhaul, repair, inspection, modification, replacement, and system software upgrades of the small UAS and its components necessary for flight. Whenever possible, the operator should maintain the small UAS and its components in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. The aircraft manufacturer may provide the maintenance program, or, if one is not provided, the applicant may choose to develop one. See paragraph 7.3.5 for suggested benefits of record keeping. (See paragraph 8.3.7.4 for Category 4 maintenance requirements. See paragraph 8.3.7.4.1 for Category 4 record retention requirements and owner and operator responsibilities.)

7.2.1 Scheduled Maintenance.

The small UAS manufacturer may provide documentation for scheduled maintenance of the entire small unmanned aircraft and associated system equipment. The manufacturer may identify components of the small UAS that should undergo scheduled periodic maintenance or replacement based on time-in-service limits (such as flight hours, cycles, and/or the calendar-days). Operators should adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule for such maintenance, in the interest of achieving the longest and safest service life of the small UAS.

7.2.1.1 If the small UAS manufacturer or component manufacturer does not provide scheduled maintenance instructions, the operator should establish a scheduled maintenance protocol. Such protocol could entail documenting any repair, modification, overhaul, or replacement of a system component resulting from normal flight operations, and recording the time-in-service for that component at the time of the maintenance procedure. Over time, the operator should then be able to establish a reliable maintenance schedule for the small UAS and its components.

7.2.2 Unscheduled Maintenance.

During the course of a preflight inspection, the remote PIC may discover a small UAS component is in need of servicing (such as lubrication), repair, modification, overhaul, or replacement outside of the scheduled maintenance period as a result of normal flight operations or resulting from a mishap. In addition, the small UAS manufacturer or component manufacturer may require an unscheduled system software update to correct a problem. In the event such a condition is found, flight operations should not occur until the issue is corrected.

7.2.3 Performing Maintenance.

In some instances, the small UAS or component manufacturer may require completion of certain maintenance tasks by the manufacturer or by a person or facility (personnel) the manufacturer specifies. Maintenance should occur in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. However, if the operator declines to use the manufacturer or personnel the manufacturer recommends are unable to perform the required maintenance, the operator should consider the expertise of maintenance personnel familiar with the specific small UAS and its components.

7.2.3.1 If the operator or other maintenance personnel are unable to repair, modify, or overhaul a small UAS or component back to its safe operational specification, the operator should replace the small UAS or component with one that is in a condition for safe operation. All required maintenance should be completed before each flight, and preferably in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or, in lieu of that, within known industry best practices.

7.3 Preflight Inspection.

Pursuant to the requirements of § 107.49, in addition to assessing the intended area of operation and planning the operation as described above in paragraph 5.10, the remote PIC must inspect the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation prior to each flight. This inspection includes examining the small UAS for equipment damage or malfunction(s). This preflight inspection should be conducted in accordance with the small UAS manufacturer’s inspection procedures when available (usually found in the manufacturer’s owner or maintenance manual) and/or an inspection procedure developed by the small UAS owner or operator.

7.3.1 Creating an Inspection Program.

As an option, small UAS owners or operators may wish to create an inspection program for their small UAS. The person creating such an inspection program may find sufficient details to assist in the development of a suitable inspection program tailored to a specific small UAS in a variety of industry programs.

7.3.2 Scalable Preflight Inspection.

The preflight check as part of the inspection program should include an appropriate small UAS preflight inspection that is scalable to the small UAS, program, and operation that the remote PIC performs prior to each flight. An appropriate preflight inspection should encompass the entire system in order to determine a continued condition for safe operation prior to flight.

7.3.3 Title 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix D Guidelines.

Another option and best practice may include opting to comply with the portions of part 43 appendix D. Although part 43 appendix D is technically a maintenance inspection checklist and not a preflight inspection checklist, it provides a logical and systematic approach to performing an inspection by dividing the aircraft into subgroups. It details inspection of the airframe, then the flight controls, then the batteries, then the engine, etc. Unlike manned aircraft that require significant disassembly, most small UAS inspection items are visible without necessitating the need for disassembly. In the absence of a manufacturer’s instructions, an operator may use part 43 appendix D as a guide to develop their own inspection program, but it is not comprehensive, as it does not address unique UAS features like datalinks or support equipment. An operator would need to identify those items not covered and include them in their inspection program.

7.3.4 Preflight Inspection Items.

Even if the small UAS manufacturer has a written preflight inspection procedure, the FAA recommends the remote PIC ensure the following inspection items be incorporated into the remote PIC’s preflight inspection procedure. Such a practice will ensure the remote PIC accurately determines that the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation. The preflight inspection should include a visual or functional check of the following items.

1. Visual condition inspection of the small UAS components;

2. Airframe structure (including undercarriage), all flight control surfaces, and linkages;

3. Registration markings, for proper display and legibility (part 48, § 48.205);

4. Moveable control surface(s), including airframe attachment point(s);

5. Servo motor(s), including attachment point(s);

6. Propulsion system, including powerplant(s), propeller(s), rotor(s), ducted fan(s), etc.;

7. Check fuel for correct type and quantity;

8. Check that any equipment, such as a camera, is securely attached;

9. Check that control link connectivity is established between the aircraft and the CS;

10. Verify communication with small unmanned aircraft and that the small UAS has acquired GPS location from the minimum number of satellites specified by the manufacturer;

11. Verify all systems (e.g., aircraft and control unit) have an adequate power supply for the intended operation and are functioning properly;

12. Verify correct indications from avionics, including control link transceiver, communication/navigation equipment, and antenna(s);

13. Display panel, if used, is functioning properly;

14. Check ground support equipment, including takeoff and landing systems, for proper operation;

15. Verify adequate communication between CS and small unmanned aircraft exists; check to ensure the small UAS has acquired GPS location from the minimum number of satellites specified by the manufacturer;

16. Check for correct movement of control surfaces using the CS;

17. Check flight termination system, if applicable;

18. Check that the anti-collision light is functioning (if operating during civil twilight and night);

19. Calibrate small UAS compass prior to any flight;

20. Verify controller operation for heading and altitude;

21. Start the small UAS propellers to inspect for any imbalance or irregular operation;

22. At a controlled low altitude, fly within range of any interference and recheck all controls and stability; and

23. Check battery levels for the aircraft and CS.

7.3.5 Benefits of Record keeping.

Small UAS owners and operators may find record keeping to be beneficial. This may be done by documenting any repair, modification, overhaul, or replacement of a system component resulting from normal flight operations, and recording the time-in-service for that component at the time of the maintenance procedure. The operator would then be able to establish a reliable maintenance schedule for the small UAS and its components. The use of hardcopy and/or electronic logbook format for record keeping, inclusive of all periodic inspections, maintenance, preventative maintenance, repairs, and alterations performed on the small UAS, is useful in documenting the history of the small UAS. Record keeping would include all components of the small UAS, including: small unmanned aircraft, CS, launch and recovery equipment, Command and Control (C2) link equipment, payload, and any other components required to safely operate the small UAS. Record keeping of documented maintenance and inspection events reinforces owner/operator responsibility through a systematic means to determine that the small UAS is in a condition for safe flight. Maintenance and inspection record keeping provides retrievable evidence of vital safety assessment data defining the condition of safety-critical systems and components supporting the decision to launch. For operators that rapidly accumulate flight operational hours/cycles, record keeping of a small UAS may provide an essential safety support. Methodical maintenance and inspection data collection can prove to be very helpful in the tracking of small UAS component service life, as well as systemic component, equipage, and structural failure events.

CHAPTER 8. SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT OVER PEOPLE

8.1 Applicability.

This chapter provides guidance concerning small unmanned aircraft eligibility requirements and remote pilot responsibilities for small unmanned aircraft operations over people.

8.2 Category of Operations.

Part 107 establishes four categories of permissible operations over people.

Category 1 is limited to a maximum weight of 0.55 pounds, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff and throughout the duration of each operation. In addition, the small unmanned aircraft must not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being.

Category 2 or 3 operations may only be conducted with small unmanned aircraft that fulfill performance-based safety requirements, which limit the risk and severity of injuries based on potential hazards.

Category 4 allows small unmanned aircraft issued an airworthiness certificate under 14 CFR part 21 to operate over people in accordance with part 107, so long as the operating limitations specified in the FAA-approved Flight Manual, or as otherwise specified by the Administrator, do not prohibit operations over people.

8.3 Operations Over People.

Section 107.39 prohibits operations of a small unmanned aircraft over a person who is not under a safe cover, such as a protective structure or a stationary vehicle, unless the operation is conducted in accordance with one of the four categories listed in part 107 subpart D. A remote pilot may operate a small unmanned aircraft over a person who is directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft. Direct participants include the remote pilot in command (PIC), another person who may be manipulating the controls, a visual observer (VO), or crew members necessary for the safety of the small unmanned aircraft operation. A direct participant should be directly involved in the small unmanned aircraft flight operation. The remote pilot assigns and briefs the direct participants in preparation for the operation. The remote pilot may comply with the requirements prohibiting operation over people in several ways. For example:

• Selecting an operational location where there are no people and none are expected to be present for the duration of the operation. If the remote pilot selects a location where people are present, the remote pilot should have a plan of action to ensure human beings remain clear of the operating area. The remote pilot may be able to direct people to remain indoors or remain under safe cover until the small unmanned aircraft flight operation has ended. Safe cover is a structure or stationary vehicle that protects a person from harm if the small unmanned aircraft impacts that structure or vehicle.

• Maintaining a safe distance from people who are not directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft.

• Ensuring the small unmanned aircraft will not be operated over any moving vehicles.

Note: The remote pilot should consider risk mitigations, and needs to take into account the small unmanned aircraft’s course, speed, and trajectory, including the possibility of a failure, to determine whether the small unmanned aircraft would go over or strike a person who is not directly participating in the flight operation.

8.3.1 Minimum Distances from a Person.

Part 107 does not impose a specific stand-off distance requirement from people when operating a small unmanned aircraft. The remote pilot may elect to observe a minimum stand-off distance to ensure the safety of the operation. When determining an appropriate stand-off distance, the remote pilot should consider the following factors:

• The small unmanned aircraft’s performance, to include course, speed, trajectory, and maneuverability.

• Environmental conditions such as wind, including gusts, precipitation, and visibility.

• Operational area conditions such as the location and movement of people, vessels, or vehicles, as well as terrain features, including structures or any other item that could affect the operational area where the small unmanned aircraft is being maneuvered.

• Probable failures and the ability to perform emergency maneuvers, including emergency landings.

• The remote pilot’s familiarity with and ability to maneuver the small unmanned aircraft.

Note: When conducting the small unmanned aircraft operation, the remote pilot should evaluate and make adjustments to this minimum distance from people as conditions change.

8.3.2 Operations Over Open-Air Assemblies of Persons.

Remote pilots are prohibited from operating a small unmanned aircraft as a Category 1, 2, or 4 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies, unless the operation meets the requirements of § 89.110 or § 89.115(a). This prohibition is subject to waiver.

8.3.2.1 “Sustained flight” over an open-air assembly of persons in a Category 1, 2, or 4 operation does not include a brief, one-time transiting over a portion of the assembled gathering where the transit is merely incidental to a point-to-point operation unrelated to the assembly.
8.3.2.2 Category 3 operations are not allowed over an open-air assembly of persons.

8.3.3 Operations Over Moving Vehicles.

Part 107 allows small unmanned aircraft operations over people inside moving vehicles with a small unmanned aircraft that meets the eligibility requirements for a Category 1, 2, 3, or 4 operation subject to one of the following conditions:

8.3.3.1 For Categories 1, 2, and 3 small unmanned aircraft, the operation must be conducted within or over a closed- or restricted-access site. Any person located inside a moving vehicle within the closed- or restricted-access site must be on notice that a small unmanned aircraft may fly over them; or

8.3.3.2 If the operation is not conducted within or over a closed- or restricted-access site, the small unmanned aircraft must not maintain sustained flight over any moving vehicle.

Note: Category 4 small unmanned aircraft may be eligible to operate over moving vehicles as long as the operating limitations specified in the FAA-approved Flight Manual, or as otherwise specified by the Administrator, do not prohibit such operation.

Operations Over Moving Vehicles – Over or Within a Closed/Restricted Access Site

Operations Over Moving Vehicles – Not Over or Within a Closed/Restricted Access Site

8.3.4 Category 1 Operations.

Part 107 establishes a category of operations over people using small unmanned aircraft that weigh 0.55 pounds (250 grams) or less on takeoff and throughout the duration of flight, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft. In addition to weight limits, Category 1 small unmanned aircraft must not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact. Remote pilots are prohibited from operating as a Category 1 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies unless the operation meets the requirements of § 89.110 or § 89.115(a). This prohibition is subject to waiver.

8.3.4.1 The remote pilot is responsible for determining that the small unmanned aircraft does not exceed the weight threshold and must ensure that the small unmanned aircraft does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin. These requirements are in addition to the already existing pilot requirements of part 107, such as the preflight responsibilities listed in § 107.49 (see paragraph 8.11.1).
8.3.4.2 There are no applicant requirements for Category 1.

8.3.5 Category 2 Operations.

To conduct Category 2 operations over people, the small unmanned aircraft must meet the requirements of § 107.120. To confirm such eligibility, the small unmanned aircraft must be listed on an FAA-accepted declaration of compliance (DOC).

8.3.5.1 It is the remote pilot’s responsibility to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC as eligible for Category 2 operations and labeled as eligible to conduct Category 2 operations. A remote pilot can accomplish these things by checking the FAA’s DOC Portal to see if the DOC is valid and by visually inspecting the aircraft to ensure a label identifying the aircraft as Category 2 is affixed to the aircraft. These requirements are in addition to the already existing pilot requirements of part 107, such as the preflight responsibilities listed in § 107.49.
8.3.5.2 Additionally, the small unmanned aircraft must display a label indicating eligibility to conduct Category 2 operations; have current remote pilot operating instructions that apply to the operation of the small unmanned aircraft, which are described below in paragraph 8.12; and be subject to a product support and notification process. (The applicant must submit the DOC containing specific information to affirm that the aircraft meets the safety requirements through an FAA-accepted means of compliance (MOC). See paragraph 8.9 for a detailed description of the DOC and the process for submitting the DOC.)
8.3.5.3 Remote pilots are prohibited from operating as a Category 2 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies unless the operation meets the requirements of § 89.110 or § 89.115(a). This prohibition is subject to waiver.

8.3.6 Category 3 Operations.

To conduct Category 3 operations over people, a small unmanned aircraft must meet the safety requirements of § 107.130. To confirm such eligibility, the small unmanned aircraft must be listed on an FAA-accepted DOC.

8.3.6.1 It is the remote pilot’s responsibility to ensure the small unmanned aircraft is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC and labeled as eligible to conduct Category 3 operations. A remote pilot can accomplish these things by checking online to see if the DOC is valid and by visually inspecting the aircraft to ensure a label identifying the aircraft as Category 3 is affixed to the aircraft. These requirements are in addition to the already existing pilot requirements of part 107, such as the preflight responsibilities listed in § 107.49.
8.3.6.2 Additionally, the small unmanned aircraft must display a label identifying eligibility to conduct Category 3 operations; have current remote pilot operating instructions that apply to the operation of the small unmanned aircraft, which are described below in paragraph 8.12; and be subject to a product support and notification process. (The applicant must submit the DOC containing specific information to affirm that the aircraft meets the safety requirements through an FAA-accepted MOC. See paragraph 8.9 for a detailed description of the DOC and the process for submitting the DOC.)

8.3.6.3 Location Requirements and Restrictions.

Category 3 operations are allowed under the following conditions:

• The operation is conducted over a closed- or restricted-access site and everyone located within the site must be on notice that a small unmanned aircraft may fly over them.

• The operation is not conducted within a closed- or restricted-access site, and the small unmanned aircraft does not sustain flight over any person unless that person is directly participating in the operation or located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft.

8.3.6.4 No Operations Over Open-Air Assemblies of People.

Category 3 operations are not allowed over an open-air assembly of persons. While the FAA does not define open-air assembly by regulation, it employs a case-by-case approach in determining how to apply the term. Open-air assembly has to do with the density of people who are not directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft and the size of the operational area. An open-air assembly is generally understood as dense gatherings of people in the open, usually associated with concert venues, sporting events, parks, and beaches during certain events. Such assemblies are usually associated with public spaces. The FAA considers that some potential examples of open-air assemblies may include sporting events, concerts, parades, protests, political rallies, community festivals, or parks and beaches during certain events. Some potential examples that are less likely to be considered open-air assemblies include individual persons or families exiting a shopping center, persons participating in casual sports in an open area without spectators, individuals or small groups taking leisure in a park or on a beach, or individuals walking or riding a bike along a bike path. Whether an open-air assembly exists depends on a case-by-case determination based on the facts and circumstances of each case. The remote pilot must assess whether the operational area would be considered an open-air assembly prior to conducting flight operations.

8.3.6.5 Modifications.

The remote pilot operating instructions may contain details concerning allowable modifications of the small unmanned aircraft. Modifications not allowed by the remote pilot operating instructions may render the small unmanned aircraft ineligible for operations over people. Such modifications would require submission of a new DOC. Additionally, the small unmanned aircraft may need to be relabeled to reflect the category of operations it is eligible to conduct. In the case of the sale or transfer of the small unmanned aircraft, or use of the aircraft by someone other than the applicant, the applicant must provide remote pilot operating instructions that reflect the aircraft’s eligible category and acceptable modifications. Therefore, the FAA encourages manufacturers of small unmanned aircraft to keep track of modifications that would require an update to the remote pilot operating instructions.

8.3.6.6 Closed- or Restricted-Access Sites.

Category 3 operations may take place over or within closed- or restricted-access sites where everyone located within the site must be on notice that a small unmanned aircraft may fly over them, as long as the operational area is not considered an open-air assembly. People who are not directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft but who are performing functions at the closed- or restricted-access site must be on notice of potential small unmanned aircraft operations, and should be advised of precautions or other recommended actions to take, if necessary. Remote pilots are responsible for ensuring no inadvertent or unauthorized access to the site occur. Adequate assurance could include physical barriers such as barricading and fencing or monitoring personnel to ensure inadvertent or unauthorized access to the site does not occur. Geographical boundaries, such as rivers, canals, cliffs, and heavily wooded areas may serve as effective barriers to restrict access.

8.3.6.7 No Sustained Flight Over People.

In addition to closed- or restricted-access sites, Category 3 operations may take place outside of a closed- or restricted-access site as long as the small unmanned aircraft does not sustain flight over people not participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft. This allows the remote pilot to operate over people, but only for a brief period. The intent of the requirement is momentary exposure, without sustained exposure over one or more persons. Sustained flight includes hovering above any person’s head, flying back and forth over a person, or circling above an uninvolved person in such a way that the small unmanned aircraft remains above some part of that person. The remote pilot should adjust the flightpath of the small unmanned aircraft to ensure minimal exposure of the aircraft over people, and may need to discontinue the operation if the flightpaths would require sustained flight over people. 

8.3.7 Category 4 Operations.

Certification is how the FAA manages risk through safety assurance. It provides the FAA confidence that a proposed product or operation will meet FAA safety expectations to protect the public. Eligible Category 4 small unmanned aircraft must have an airworthiness certificate issued by the FAA under part 21 and must be operated in accordance with the operating limitations specified in the FAA-approved Flight Manual or as otherwise specified by the Administrator. The airworthiness certificate allows small unmanned aircraft operations for compensation and hire.

8.3.7.1 The remote pilot conducting Category 4 operations over people must use an eligible small unmanned aircraft. To operate over people in accordance with § 107.140 and over moving vehicles in accordance with § 107.145(c), the remote pilot must operate the small unmanned aircraft in accordance with all operating limitations that apply to the small unmanned aircraft, as specified by the Administrator. These operating limitations must not prohibit operations over people.
8.3.7.2 Remote pilots are prohibited from operating as a Category 4 operation in sustained flight over open-air assemblies unless the operation meets the requirements of § 89.110 or § 89.115(a). This prohibition is subject to waiver.

8.3.7.3 Category 4 Maintenance.

In order to preserve the continued airworthiness of the small unmanned aircraft and continue to meet a level of reliability that the FAA finds acceptable for flying over people in accordance with Category 4, the requirements of § 107.140(c) apply. Eligible Category 4 small unmanned aircraft must have maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations performed in a manner using the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA) prepared by its manufacturer, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator. Additionally, Category 4 small unmanned aircraft must be inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or other instructions acceptable to the Administrator and have maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations performed using parts of such a quality that the condition of the aircraft will be at least equal to its original or properly altered condition.

8.3.7.3.1 The person performing any maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations must use the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual or ICA that are acceptable to the Administrator, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator. The person who inspects the small unmanned aircraft must do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or other instructions acceptable to the Administrator. Additionally, the person must have the knowledge, skill, and appropriate equipment to perform the work. The person performing the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations must use parts of such a quality that the condition of the aircraft will be at least equal to its original or properly altered condition.
8.3.7.3.2 The owner or operator must maintain records of maintenance performed on the aircraft as well as records documenting the status of life-limited parts, compliance with Airworthiness Directives (AD), and inspection compliance of the small unmanned aircraft. Owner and operator responsibilities are discussed in paragraph 8.3.7.4.1.

8.3.7.4 Applicability of Maintenance and Record Retention Requirements.

When a remote pilot operates a small unmanned aircraft in accordance with part 107, having an FAA-issued airworthiness certificate under part 21, the requirements of parts 43 and 91 do not apply. However, a small unmanned aircraft issued an airworthiness certificate may be eligible to operate under part 91, under certain circumstances. Part 107 contains necessary updates to the regulatory text to reflect the applicability of operating rules. Category 4 does not prescribe as many maintenance and record retention requirements as are required by parts 43 and 91, respectively. Therefore, it may be difficult for an owner or operator to switch between operating rules. A small unmanned aircraft operated and maintained in accordance with part 107 may find it difficult to show compliance with the requirements of part 43 and 91. To address this concern, an owner or operator can elect to comply with the relevant parts 43 and 91 requirements, even while operating in accordance with part 107. Under these circumstances, electing to comply with the relevant parts 43 and 91 requirements may help facilitate moving back and forth between operational parts, if desired, because the requirements of parts 43 and 91 are more stringent than those of § 107.140 with regard to maintenance and airworthiness.

8.3.7.4.1 Consistent with other regulatory frameworks, such as parts 91 and 135, the owner is responsible for maintaining the small unmanned aircraft in accordance with the requirements of § 107.140(c). However, if the owner enters into an agreement with another entity to operate the small unmanned aircraft, the operator is responsible for the maintenance and records retention requirements for small unmanned aircraft operated in accordance with Category 4 under part 107. The FAA expects most operators of Category 4 small unmanned aircraft operating under part 107 will also be the owner, or operating under direction of the owner. In this case, the owner is responsible for compliance with the Category 4 small unmanned aircraft maintenance and records retention requirements. To maintain flexibility for those owners of Category 4 small unmanned aircraft who wish to enter into an agreement with another entity for the operation of their small unmanned aircraft without the owner’s intervention or control, § 107.140(c) provides the means for the responsibility of maintenance requirements and retention of records to be clearly defined in such an agreement. If so specified in the agreement, the FAA would hold the operator responsible for compliance with the Category 4 small unmanned aircraft maintenance and records retention requirements. An agreement between an owner and an operator may be in the form of a written lease or contract, verbal agreement, or other agreement. If any agreement is found invalid or unenforceable, then the owner has the responsibility to meet 2/1/21 AC 107-2A 8-9 these requirements. The provisions of any agreement should address, at a minimum, the requirements of § 107.140(c).

Operations Over People – Over or Within a Closed/Restricted Access Site

Operations Over People – Not Over or Within a Closed/Restricted Access Site

8.4 Applicant.

An applicant includes any person who produces, designs, or modifies a small unmanned aircraft eligible to operate over people within the United States. An applicant may produce many small unmanned aircraft, sell kits from which to build small unmanned aircraft, or modify a small unmanned aircraft in a way that affects the eligibility of the small unmanned aircraft to conduct a different category of operations over people than it was previously eligible.

8.4.1 An applicant who manufactures and sells a kit that contains all the components and parts from which to build an operable small unmanned aircraft must comply with the requirements of part 107 subpart D, if the aircraft is intended for operations over people. The kit must contain all the components necessary to build an operable small unmanned aircraft, and would not require the owner to purchase any additional materials. Before the kit is sold, the applicant must ensure that the completely assembled small unmanned aircraft, not only its individual component parts, complies with the performance-based safety requirements to determine eligibility using an FAA-accepted MOC and declare compliance. This will ensure that the small unmanned aircraft meets the requirements of part 107 subpart D.
8.4.2 Someone who builds a small unmanned aircraft from separate components and parts not from a kit is an applicant. For example, someone may purchase the parts of a small unmanned aircraft separately, and build the small unmanned aircraft. An applicant is required to submit a DOC in order to conduct Category 2 or 3 operations.
8.4.3 An applicant may be a person who modifies a small unmanned aircraft listed on an existing DOC, resulting in noncompliance with the original declaration. A noncompliance means the small unmanned aircraft has been altered and is no longer in the same configuration as originally declared. If the small unmanned aircraft is changed so that it is no longer eligible for operations over people, a new DOC must be submitted prior to conducting operations over people or moving vehicles within that category. An applicant should specify allowable modifications in the remote pilot operating instructions (please see paragraph 8.12 below for information concerning remote pilot operating instructions). This ensures a remote pilot who may replace parts or otherwise modify the small unmanned aircraft is aware of which modifications would be allowable for the category of operation. An applicant may develop updates for a small unmanned aircraft after the remote pilot takes possession of it, such as a software update or hardware update. To communicate these updates to the remote pilots, the manufacturer should make operating instructions for the new capabilities of the small unmanned aircraft available.
8.4.4 Any person who makes a modification not permissible by the remote pilot operating instructions to a small unmanned aircraft eligible for Category 2 or Category 3 operations over people renders that small unmanned aircraft ineligible. If the person making the modification intends to conduct Category 2 or Category 3 operations over people with the modified small unmanned aircraft, that person is required to take on the responsibilities of an applicant. In this case, the applicant is required to determine the modified small unmanned aircraft meets the performance-based safety requirements for either Category 2 or Category 3, or both, using an FAA-accepted MOC and submit a new DOC. This principle applies to any person who modifies an existing ineligible small unmanned aircraft with the intention of conducting Category 2 or Category 3, or both, operations over people.
8.4.5 Maintenance actions performed on an eligible Category 2 or Category 3 aircraft that do not change the configuration or characteristics of the aircraft would not require a new DOC to be submitted. For example, if replacing propellers is listed as an allowed modification in the remote pilot operating instructions, a new DOC would not be required. However, replacing propellers not covered in the remote pilot operating instructions requires submission of a new DOC to conduct Category 2 or Category 3 operations over people. Remote pilot operating instructions should include a list of allowed modifications for the small unmanned aircraft to remain eligible.

Requirement to Submit a DOC for a Modified Small Unmanned Aircraft

8.5 Means of Compliance—General Information.

An MOC is a method to show that a small unmanned aircraft does not exceed the applicable injury severity limit upon impact with a human being, does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin, and does not contain any safety defects. An MOC must be accepted by the FAA before an applicant can rely on it to declare compliance with the safety requirements for operations over people. Anyone may submit an MOC to the FAA for acceptance if it fulfills Category 2 or Category 3 safety requirements. An individual or a voluntary consensus standards body (e.g., ASTM International or SAE) could develop an acceptable MOC. The MOC must demonstrate through test, analysis, or inspection that the small unmanned aircraft is eligible for operations over people in Category 2, Category 3, or both. The MOC may include consensus standards. Once the FAA accepts an MOC, any person submitting a DOC could use it to establish that a small unmanned aircraft fulfills the requirements of the rule. An applicant requesting FAA acceptance of an MOC must submit certain information to the FAA in a manner the Administrator specifies. When reviewing an MOC, the FAA will utilize a comprehensive set of criteria. The FAA will determine whether the testing, analysis, or inspection described in the MOC demonstrates that a small unmanned aircraft meets the appropriate regulatory requirements. An MOC must address the injury severity limits, the prohibition on exposed rotating parts that would cause lacerations, and verification that there are no safety defects. The FAA will determine whether the proposed MOC aligns with accepted methods used by the medical industry, consumer safety groups, or other peer-reviewed test methods. In addition, the FAA will consider whether the proposed MOC relies on mitigations that require exceptional remote pilot skill or excessive workload to satisfy the requirements.

8.5.1 The FAA must accept an MOC before an applicant can rely on it to demonstrate compliance with the performance-based safety requirements for operations over human beings. An FAA-accepted MOC is subject to an ongoing review by the FAA to ensure the MOC remains valid. If the FAA determines the MOC no longer meets any or all of the requirements to demonstrate compliance with part 107 subpart D, the FAA may rescind acceptance of an MOC. If the FAA elects to rescind an MOC, it will publish a notice of rescission in the Federal Register.

8.5.2 The MOC options an applicant may use are:

1. The FAA-provided MOC, discussed in this AC.

2. An FAA-accepted MOC developed by a voluntary consensus standards body or other entity, or an FAA-accepted MOC developed independent of the FAA. An MOC developed by an individual applicant requires the same level of FAA review as an MOC developed by a voluntary consensus standards body.

The FAA generally works with voluntary consensus standards bodies in the development of these standards. As a result, any MOC based on these standards will already have gone through a comprehensive review process during development.

8.6 FAA-Provided MOC.

Without prejudice to any other MOC that an applicant may propose and the FAA may accept, the FAA offers one already accepted MOC for both the impact kinetic energy and exposed rotating parts requirements provided at §§ 107.120(a)(1) and (2) (Category 2) and 107.130(a)(1) and (2) (Category 3). The FAA-provided MOC for the injury severity limitations is developed through an applicant’s calculation of the small unmanned aircraft’s maximum kinetic energy. This MOC does not account for impact dynamics or other factors, but consists of using only the formula the FAA describes to calculate the small unmanned aircraft’s maximum kinetic energy. This FAA-accepted MOC provides manufacturers with at least one method to demonstrate their small unmanned aircraft would meet the requirements to operate over people. As a result, the MOC involves confirming

(1) the impact of a small unmanned aircraft does not exceed a certain kinetic energy limit,

(2) the small unmanned aircraft does not contain any exposed rotating parts, and

(3) does not contain any safety defects.

8.6.1 Impact Kinetic Energy.

An applicant may use the FAA-provided MOC to satisfy the impact kinetic energy requirements by confirming the impact of the small unmanned aircraft does not exceed the applicable injury severity limits during a typical failure mode at the aircraft’s maximum performance capabilities. To test a small unmanned aircraft using this MOC, an applicant would first determine the maximum forward airspeed that the small unmanned aircraft is capable of attaining at full power in level flight. This would be done using a reliable and accurate airspeed measurement method under typical environmental conditions. For example, an applicant could measure the maximum speed using a Global Positioning System (GPS) groundspeed indicator, a radar gun, or tape measure and stop watch.

Note that small unmanned aircraft operated under part 107 may not exceed the speed limitations in part 107 unless authorized under a Certificate of Waiver (CoW) or an exemption (§ 107.51(a)).

8.6.1.1 Next, an applicant would determine the ground impact speed resulting from an unpowered free-fall from the highest altitude the small unmanned aircraft is capable of attaining at full power.

Note that aircraft operating under part 107 may not exceed the altitude limitations of that rule unless authorized under a CoW or an exemption (§ 107.51(b)). The ground impact speed could be determined by performing a drop test from the altitude determined in the previous step using a reliable and accurate vertical speed measurement method under typical environmental conditions.

8.6.1.2 If an applicant determines it is unreasonable to perform a drop test from the highest attainable altitude, then the applicant can perform a drop test from a lower altitude. The lower altitude must be sufficient to determine the small unmanned aircraft free-fall aerodynamic characteristics, such as the coefficient of drag and terminal velocity, to accurately calculate the ground impact speed from a free-fall from the highest attainable altitude. The manufacturer would state in the supporting data the applicant submits pursuant to § 107.155 the environmental conditions under which the applicant determined the maximum speeds. The applicant would also describe any unique test conditions for both the level flight and free-fall scenarios.
8.6.1.3 The above tests account for speeds a small unmanned aircraft could reach prior to or during a typical failure mode, such as losing power and falling with both a vertical and horizontal speed component. The tests do not take into account small unmanned aircraft failure modes or pilot actions that would cause the small unmanned aircraft to exceed the speeds determined in the previous steps. One example is a powered descent in which the ground impact speed of the small unmanned aircraft exceeds its unpowered free-fall ground impact speed. The FAA assumes these types of failure modes or pilot actions are not typical, and while possible, have a low likelihood of occurring. If an applicant determines these types of failure modes or pilot actions could typically occur and result in speeds greater than those determined in the previous steps, then the applicant should use the higher speeds to determine the maximum impact kinetic energy.
8.6.1.4 Once the applicant determines the maximum speeds associated with a horizontal and vertical impact, the applicant would determine the highest combination of these speeds the aircraft could achieve as a result of a typical failure in order to determine the maximum impact kinetic energy. The applicant should identify and assess typical failures caused by system or equipment loss of function or malfunction as well as those that could be caused by pilot error.
8.6.1.5 In consideration of the maximum speeds and typical failures described above, the applicant should determine the maximum impact kinetic energy using the following equation:

Kinetic energy equation

8.6.1.6 The two tables below provide examples of maximum impact speeds, rounded to whole numbers, associated with the impact kinetic energy thresholds of the different categories and the weight of the small unmanned aircraft. One table provides speeds in feet per second and the other table provides speeds in miles per hour (mph). Applicants may use these tables when following this MOC based on the maximum performance of the small unmanned aircraft. These tables do not consider any energy absorbing characteristics of a small unmanned aircraft that may reduce the amount of energy that is transferred to a person during a collision.

Maximum Impact Speeds (ft/sec) for a Given Weight and Impact Kinetic Energy Under FAA-Provided MOC

Maximum Impact Speeds (mph) for a Given Weight and Impact Kinetic Energy Under FAA-Provided MOC

8.6.1.7 If the small unmanned aircraft incorporates airspeed or altitude limiting systems or equipment that, when installed or enabled, restrict its forward airspeed or altitude in order to meet an impact kinetic energy requirement, then those systems or equipment should be installed or enabled when performing the tests described above. If compliance with the impact kinetic energy requirement depends on the proper function of those systems or equipment, then the applicant should provide in the remote pilot operating instructions information on the proper use of those systems or equipment, as well as any restrictions.

The FAA anticipates applicants will implement these types of systems or equipment through hardware, software, or a combination of both. If the small unmanned aircraft can be operated with or without these systems or equipment enabled or installed, such as in a variable-mode small unmanned aircraft, then the applicant should provide information in the remote pilot operating instructions to ensure pilots understand any restrictions or limitations associated with the different modes.

8.6.1.8 This MOC does not account for the use or testing of design features such as parachutes, ballistic recovery systems, or other deployable devices that once deployed, reduce impact velocity. Such features can establish that a small unmanned aircraft would impact a person with a reduced amount of kinetic energy. Such design features will require the FAA’s review to determine whether they assist in achieving compliance with injury severity limitations. Outside the scope of the FAA-provided MOC, an applicant may choose to demonstrate compliance with the injury severity limitations using deployable devices, as long as the applicant describes how the devices are used to meet the safety requirements in the proposed MOC.
8.6.1.9 The MOC detailed above does not take into account the effect of the small unmanned aircraft’s structural configuration or materials of construction during an impact with a person. It assumes that the total kinetic energy of the small unmanned aircraft would be transferred to the person upon impact. In reality, a small unmanned aircraft’s structural configuration, materials of construction, or other design features may reduce the amount of the total kinetic energy that is transferred to a person during an impact. The use of energy absorbing materials, or an energy absorbing protective cage, may reduce the transfer of kinetic energy during an impact with a person. Under these circumstances, an applicant may wish to establish the amount of kinetic energy transferred to a person during an impact based on the impact absorbing characteristics of the small unmanned aircraft. If an applicant shows the aircraft does not transfer more than the kinetic energy limit to a person upon impact, the aircraft may be eligible for Category 2 or 3 operations over people. This demonstration would require an MOC that is not provided in this AC.
8.6.1.10 The FAA acknowledges limitations associated with the FAA-provided MOC. The FAA intended with this FAA-provided MOC to provide a test method that applicants could use to show compliance with the injury severity limitations, with the anticipation that industry can and will develop more flexible MOC through a voluntary consensus standards body or otherwise. The FAA expects these industry standards to consider that small unmanned aircraft often have non-rigid structures, which can reduce the kinetic energy transferred to a person upon impact. The FAA encourages the development of such MOC. Please see paragraphs 8.7 and 8.8 below for information concerning other MOC.
8.6.2 Exposed Rotating Parts. One means, but not the only means, of complying with the requirement would be to manufacture the small unmanned aircraft so that it does not contain any exposed rotating parts. For example, if the propellers that provide lift and thrust for the small unmanned aircraft are internal to the unmanned aircraft, such as in a ducted fan configuration, and would not make contact with a person as a result of a typical impact, then the parts would not be exposed. Therefore, the small unmanned aircraft would satisfy this requirement. Testing and analysis may be required to determine that the rotating parts could not become exposed as a result of a typical impact with a person. If the forces on the small unmanned aircraft during an impact with a person are likely to cause structural failures that cause the rotating parts to become exposed, then that design would not satisfy this requirement.
8.7 Voluntary Consensus Standards Body MOC. A voluntary consensus standards body incorporates openness, balance, due process, appeals process, and consensus. These characteristics result in a peer review of voluntary consensus standards. Voluntary consensus standards bodies are composed of a wide selection of industry participants, often including the FAA.
8.7.1 The FAA encourages industry stakeholders to develop additional test methods and analyses to provide multiple ways for applicants to comply with the applicable safety requirements. Two potential approaches for industry to consider are provided in the following paragraphs.
8.7.2 A person may develop a standard for small unmanned aircraft having rotating parts that are protected by safety features, such as propeller guards. The standard could require testing by the applicant to support the determination that the protective safety features accomplish their intended function of preventing rotating parts from contacting a person during impact. If the applicant has tested those safety features and demonstrated they would remain intact during impact, this could be one means of demonstrating that exposed rotating parts would not be capable of lacerating human skin upon impact.
8.7.3 If a small unmanned aircraft has rotating parts that are exposed without any protective safety features, it may be shown through testing and analysis that the rotating parts would not lacerate human skin upon impact. By analyzing test data that evaluates the size, shape, rotational speed, material, and orientation of the rotating parts, and the severity of injuries that would be caused by these parts under any impact scenarios, it can be determined that the rotating parts would not lacerate human skin upon impact.
8.7.4 The method of analysis or testing should be commensurate with the applicant’s means of compliance. If a small unmanned aircraft has propellers made out of flexible material, an applicant would likely not need to perform sophisticated analysis or testing to demonstrate that the exposed rotating parts would not cause lacerations to human skin upon impact. If an applicant chooses to design a small unmanned aircraft with exposed propellers with sharp leading edges made of a rigid material, such as a carbon fiber composite that are driven by high torque motors, that applicant would likely have to perform a more sophisticated analysis or testing. The objective of the analysis or testing is to demonstrate that the propellers would not cause lacerations upon impact. This testing standard requires the applicant to demonstrate it across a range of typical human encounters and unmanned aircraft operational scenarios. Categories 2 and 3 require the manufacturer to show the unmanned aircraft would not cause lacerations (emphasis added). Therefore, the FAA does not expect applications to test for every human encounter, merely the ones that are typical.
8.7.5 The unmanned aircraft may also have a rotor that does not have sufficient momentum to lacerate normal human skin, and may implement technology to stop the exposed rotating part before it would lacerate skin. Another example of how an aircraft could comply with the prohibition on exposed rotating parts that would cause lacerations would be to use materials that are incapable of lacerating human skin. An example of this would be to use or design rotors or propellers with properties that break away or flex upon impact to eliminate lacerations without the use of guards or shrouds. For Categories 2 and 3, any method an applicant chooses to use to comply with the exposed rotating parts requirement must be demonstrated through an FAA-accepted MOC.
8.7.6 Exposed rotating parts may pose a significant laceration hazard if they contact human skin, which is unacceptable for the safety of the public. The FAA distinguishes between a laceration to mean a cut that goes all the way through the skin while an abrasion means a superficial injury to the skin. Additionally, the FAA uses the expression “typical human encounter” to describe normal impacts, such as unmanned aircraft impacting a human being due to a loss of control, small unmanned aircraft failures, or remote pilot error. 8.8 Means of Compliance. Any person may propose an MOC to satisfy the safety requirements of § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a). A person would submit a proposed MOC to the FAA for review and acceptance, showing that its small unmanned aircraft would not exceed the applicable injury severity limit upon impact with a human being, does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin, and does not contain any safety defects. The FAA must accept an MOC before an applicant can rely on it to declare compliance with the performance-based safety requirements of § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a), or both.
8.8.1 An applicant requesting FAA acceptance of an MOC should carefully consider the additional time and effort that could be necessary to coordinate an MOC when scheduling its projects. FAA coordination may require the efforts of FAA technical specialists, Chief Scientific Technical Advisors, or other governmental agencies. The use of existing FAA-accepted MOC would be more expeditious because the FAA will already have reviewed such MOC. As with voluntary consensus standards bodies, some developers of an MOC may not be applicants also submitting a DOC to the FAA for acceptance. Guidance for developing and submitting an MOC to the FAA for acceptance is provided below.
8.8.2 An applicant requesting FAA acceptance of an MOC should submit its proposed MOC. An acceptable MOC may be used to establish the small unmanned aircraft fulfills the safety requirements set forth in § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a). The MOC must show, through test, analyses, inspection, or any combination of these options that the small unmanned aircraft meets the safety requirements for the respective category of operation over people. The proposed MOC must include a detailed description of the MOC and an explanation of how applying the MOC fulfills the safety requirements of § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a), or both. The FAA will evaluate the testing procedure and substantiation documents on a case-by-case basis.
8.8.3 When reviewing an MOC, the FAA will utilize criteria that include, but are not limited to, the following:
8.8.3.1 To evaluate compliance with the appropriate safety requirements, the FAA will determine whether the applicant’s methods demonstrate the applicant has properly mitigated the severity of human injury that could occur to an acceptable safety level, as defined in the appropriate aircraft category.
8.8.3.2 The FAA will also determine whether the tests or analyses are performed in accordance with accepted methods used by the medical industry, consumer safety groups, or other peer-reviewed test methods.
8.8.3.3 In addition, the FAA will determine whether the proposed MOC requires unreasonable skill on behalf of the remote pilot or incorporation of mitigations to meet the requirements.
8.8.3.4 The FAA will determine whether the MOC addresses design features such as deployable devices (i.e., parachutes) or other features independent of the small unmanned aircraft to determine whether they assist in fulfilling the safety requirements.
8.8.4 The FAA will indicate acceptance of an MOC by publishing a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register identifying the MOC as accepted and notifying the applicant.
8.8.5 An MOC accepted by the FAA is considered valid whether it comes from a consensus standards body or a person. If a proposed MOC is not accepted by the FAA, the FAA will notify the applicant requesting acceptance of an MOC of any issues with the proposed MOC.

8.9 Declarations of Compliance.

For a small unmanned aircraft to be eligible to conduct Category 2 or 3 operations over people, the person who designs, produces, or modifies the small unmanned aircraft must declare compliance with the appropriate performance-based safety requirements through use of an FAA-accepted MOC.

The FAA will receive such DOCs via an electronic form available on the FAA’s website

Submission of a DOC involves the applicant declaring the following information:

• The applicant has demonstrated that the small unmanned aircraft meets the performance-based safety requirements for the category or categories of operation through an FAA-accepted MOC;

• The applicant maintains a process to notify owners of small unmanned aircraft and the FAA of any unsafe conditions that render those small unmanned aircraft noncompliant with part 107 subpart D;

• The applicant verifies that the small unmanned aircraft does not contain any safety defects; and

• The applicant will allow the FAA access to its facilities and technical documents, records, or reports required or witness any test necessary to determine compliance with the DOC.

8.9.1 Contents of a DOC.

An applicant intending to promote a small unmanned aircraft as eligible for operations over people in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3 must submit a DOC to the FAA for acceptance. An applicant submits the DOC through the FAA’s website.

A completed DOC will include information the FAA requires for both determining that a small unmanned aircraft complies with the applicable safety requirements and a means of tracking those models of small unmanned aircraft that were declared compliant. In accordance with § 107.160, applicants will declare they have met the requirements of the rule through an FAA-accepted MOC and include the following information:

1. FAA-accepted MOC used.

2. Name of the applicant.

3. Physical address of the applicant.

4. Email address of the applicant (used for correspondence with the FAA).

5. Small unmanned aircraft make and model, and series, if applicable.

6. Serial number or range of serial numbers for the small unmanned aircraft subject to the DOC (open-ended are permitted).

7. Whether the DOC is an initial or an amended DOC, and if amended, the reason for the resubmittal.

8. Declaration that the applicant:

• Has demonstrated the small unmanned aircraft meets the injury severity limits of Category 2, Category 3, or both, and the prohibition on exposed rotating parts that would cause lacerations;

• Has verified the small unmanned aircraft does not have any safety defects;

• Has satisfied the requirement to maintain a product support and notification process; and

• Will, upon request, allow the Administrator to inspect its facilities and its technical data.

9. Any other information as required by the Administrator.

8.9.2 Additionally, if an applicant resubmits an FAA-accepted DOC, the applicant must include the reason for the amendment. For example, the amendment could include additional serial numbers, document the correction of a safety defect, or correct the misspelling of the applicant’s name or an incorrect address. The FAA will maintain a list of FAA-accepted DOCs and make them publicly available on the FAA website. This allows the FAA and the public to determine which makes and models, and series, if applicable, of small unmanned aircraft are eligible to conduct Categories 2 and 3 operations over people.

Note: The Administrative function of the DOC Portal must be used to request a correction to an error or to change certain parts of an applicant’s information, such as a name or email address that is currently listed on the FAA-accepted DOC.

8.9.3 After an applicant declares a specific small unmanned aircraft meets the requirements of a particular category, the applicant should ensure the small unmanned aircraft continues to comply with the applicable requirements. By submitting the DOC to the FAA for acceptance, the applicant attests it meets the requirements for part 107 subpart D, including:
8.9.3.1 The applicant declares it has established and maintains a support and notification process to the public applicable to the small unmanned aircraft that are listed on the DOC. The product support and notification process exists to notify small unmanned aircraft owners, the public, and the FAA of safety issues that result in noncompliance with regulatory requirements. Notification to the small unmanned aircraft owners could take the form of a notice on a website or electronic notification to owners. Owners may register their small unmanned aircraft with the manufacturer under a warranty program, or to update the small unmanned aircraft’s software. Manufacturer registration may be used to advise the remote pilot that the small unmanned aircraft does not fulfill the safety requirements for eligibility in one or more categories of operations over people. The person who holds the FAA-accepted DOC should exercise due diligence to ensure the communications involving potential noncompliant conditions are communicated to the responsible individual. Manufacturers are encouraged to design and utilize a system to facilitate communication between the applicant and the owners of the small unmanned aircraft. Manufacturers should implement their product support and notification system to communicate corrective actions for safety defects. When the manufacturer can confirm that the safety defects have been corrected for specific serial numbers, a new DOC may be submitted. The manufacturer must verify that those serial numbered aircraft have no safety defects prior to submitting a new DOC.

8.9.3.2 The DOC includes an agreement indicating the person who holds the FAA-accepted DOC will allow the Administrator to inspect its facilities, technical data, and any manufactured small unmanned aircraft when a safety issue warrants that level of FAA involvement. Prior to inspecting the facilities, the FAA will coordinate with the holder of the DOC in advance of the FAA visit to explain the safety concerns. Upon receipt of the FAA notification, the responsible person should be prepared to discuss production and safety procedures, including engineering and quality systems, procedures manuals, and handbooks, when practical. The FAA will expect the responsible person who holds the DOC to be prepared to discuss an evaluation of and proposed solution to the safety concerns. This may include a review of:

• Critical processes (including special processes) and critical suppliers.

• Recent design changes.

• Significant changes in manufacturing personnel, procedures, or inspections.

• Quality issues or escapes.

• Witness any tests necessary to determine compliance with part 107 subpart D.

• Any additional relevant correspondence or data pertaining to issues discovered in the course of new product deliveries or acceptance.

• Service history data and service difficulties.

Note: The FAA expects the responsible person to be prepared with any necessary information regarding the items above and other relevant quality data, procedures, or records available to evaluate the safety concern.

8.9.4 FAA Acceptance of a DOC.

If the FAA determines the applicant has demonstrated compliance with the requirements of part 107 subpart D, it will notify the applicant that it has accepted the DOC. All FAA-accepted DOCs will be made available on the FAA’s website.

8.9.5 Rescinding a DOC.

In determining whether to rescind a DOC, the FAA will consider any safety defect, material, component, or feature on a small unmanned aircraft that increases the likelihood that the small unmanned aircraft could cause a serious injury to a person during an operation over people. If such a condition exists, the FAA will initiate contact with the person who holds the DOC by email notification to discuss resolution of the safety defect. The FAA could rescind a DOC if a small unmanned aircraft is no longer compliant with the applicable safety requirements or the prohibition on exposed rotating parts that would cause lacerations. Additionally, the FAA could rescind a DOC if a small unmanned aircraft contains a safety defect and the applicant is unable or unwilling to correct it or if the FAA finds a DOC is in violation of § 107.5.

8.9.5.1 In a case where a person initially declared a small unmanned aircraft compliant with both Category 2 and Category 3, and the FAA finds it necessary to rescind the DOC for one of the categories, the FAA will take the following actions. First, the FAA will issue a notice to the applicant proposing to rescind the DOC. The notice would set forth the agency’s basis for the proposed rescission and provide the applicant 30 calendar-days to submit information to refute the proposed notice of rescission. If the holder of the DOC does not provide information demonstrating that the small unmanned aircraft meets the applicable safety requirements within 30 calendar-days, the FAA will issue a notice rescinding the DOC. In addition to publishing any final rescission of a DOC on the FAA website, the FAA may publish notification of any applicable safety defects in the Federal Register as a Notice of Availability. Such a notice will inform remote pilots that the identified aircraft are no longer eligible to conduct operations over people.
8.9.5.2 If the FAA rescinds a DOC for a small unmanned aircraft because of a safety issue, a small unmanned aircraft can be modified such that the safety issue is resolved. The person may then seek acceptance of the modified small unmanned aircraft by submitting a new DOC. In a scenario in which the FAA previously rescinded a DOC due to a safety issue, the newly submitted DOC will be subject to review by the FAA. The applicant will receive notification from the FAA once the DOC is accepted.
8.9.5.3 If the FAA rescinds a DOC, the FAA will publish the rescission on the FAA website. If the person resolved the safety issue and submitted a new or amended DOC and the FAA determines the person has corrected the safety issue, the FAA will accept the resubmitted DOC.

8.9.6 Emergency Rescission.

Prior to rescission of a DOC, the FAA will engage in the safety issue notification process with the person who holds the DOC. However, if the FAA determines an emergency exists and safety of persons requires an immediate rescission of a DOC, the FAA may rescind a DOC without a prior notification as provided in Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 46105(c). This emergency rescission would be a final agency action.

8.9.7 Petition for Reconsideration of a Rescission of a DOC.

If the FAA rescinds a DOC due to an unresolved safety issue, the person who holds the DOC has the opportunity to petition the FAA for reconsideration. Within 60 days of the date of issuance of a notice of rescission, the person may seek reconsideration by submitting a request to the FAA. The petition for reconsideration must demonstrate that information was not present in the original response and an explanation for why the information was missing, that the FAA made a factual error in its decision to rescind, or that the FAA did not correctly interpret a law, regulation, or precedent. The FAA will consider this petition and issue a final decision either affirming the rescission or withdrawing the rescission. After the FAA issues its final agency decision, the person whose DOC was the subject of the rescission has the option to appeal the action as provided in 49 U.S.C. § 46110. A remote pilot is required to cease operations over people with a small unmanned aircraft listed on a rescinded DOC until final decision has been made on the appeal.

8.10 Accountability for Holders of DOCs.

Any person who holds an FAA-accepted DOC under part 107 subpart D is accountable for the person’s products in several ways. First, applicants must have a way to track their products and to inform the public if their product is deemed unsafe to operate in a particular category for operations over people. Additionally, applicants must allow the FAA access to technical data, as well as facilities, if the FAA determines an operational safety issue warrants that level of involvement. By submitting the DOC, the applicant declares its willingness to abide by these requirements. The FAA may review small unmanned aircraft applicants’ procedures, processes, and facilities to determine compliance with this subpart. If the FAA identifies a safety issue that warrants review of an applicant’s data, records, or facilities, an applicant will be required to grant access to the information. The FAA expects the holder of an accepted DOC to ensure the following:

• The validity of the MOC to ensure that any injury to a human being upon impact with small unmanned aircraft that is the subject of the DOC does not exceed established safety requirements;

• That the construction of the small unmanned aircraft, related safety analysis, and service history do not reveal the existence of any hazardous conditions or safety defects that could result in noncompliance with the safety requirements; and

• Monitor its manufacturing processes, operational usage, and accident and incident data to ensure the small unmanned aircraft continues to comply with the applicable performance-based safety requirements. This monitoring may also take the form of information received from owners and operators of the small unmanned aircraft.

8.10.1 Safety Defects.

The FAA requires holders of an FAA-accepted DOC to comply with this rule by correcting safety defects that would cause a small unmanned aircraft to no longer meet the safety requirements for Categories 2 and 3 operations over people. Any defects identified after the DOC has been accepted must be resolved. If the unresolved safety defect results in the FAA rescinding the DOC, the person correcting the safety issue must submit a new DOC prior to being eligible to resume operations over people. Alternatively, if the holder of the DOC does not correct the safety issue, the owner or operator of the aircraft could correct the safety issue and submit a new DOC, if they are capable and willing to satisfy all eligibility requirements of the DOC. Holders of an FAA-accepted DOC are required to establish and maintain a product support and notification process and provide remote pilot operating instructions for the respective small unmanned aircraft.

8.10.1.1 Safety defects may be identified through a variety of means.

The safety defects may be identified through owner complaints, industry safety bulletins, or an individual manufacturer’s notification. If the safety defect has been identified by the FAA, we will notify the holder of the FAA-accepted DOC of the defect. The holder will have an opportunity to respond by either correcting the defect or demonstrating the small unmanned aircraft meets the safety requirements. Any rescission of a DOC will be made available on the FAA website. These actions serve to notify remote pilots that the identified aircraft is no longer eligible to conduct operations over people. The rescission of a DOC does not render a small unmanned aircraft inoperable, but rather unsafe and ineligible for operations over people.

8.10.2 Owner and FAA Notification Process.

An applicant who seeks FAA acceptance of a DOC will declare on its DOC that it has a process in place to notify owners, the public, and the FAA of any defect of condition that causes the small unmanned aircraft to no longer meet the requirements of the subpart or that it contains any safety defects. 

8.10.2.1 If, after submitting and receiving FAA acceptance of a DOC for a particular small unmanned aircraft, the applicant determines that the small unmanned aircraft no longer meets the safety requirements for the category declared, the person must notify the public and the FAA. The notification to the public and owners of the small unmanned aircraft should state that the small unmanned aircraft is not eligible for operations over people until the safety defect has been corrected. The notification to the FAA will describe the nature of the noncompliance and how the applicant will address it. If an applicant chooses to correct the safety defect and submits a new DOC that is reviewed and accepted by the FAA, the applicant should notify the public and owners of that make/model that the small unmanned aircraft is again eligible for operations over people in the respective category or categories.
8.10.2.2 Notification to the public could take several forms, as described in paragraph 8.10.2.1 above. The notice should advise remote pilots that the small unmanned aircraft is no longer eligible to operate over people pursuant to one or more of the specified categories. The FAA expects holders of an FAA-accepted DOC to exercise due diligence to ensure the intended audience receives the communications involving potential unsafe conditions. Applicants should design and utilize a system that facilitates communication with the owners of the small unmanned aircraft. It is important for owners and operators of small unmanned aircraft to be advised that their aircraft may have a safety defect.
8.10.2.3 A holder of an FAA-accepted DOC must notify the FAA of any safety issues it identifies. Although the FAA could use sources other than reports to identify potentially hazardous products, reporting can provide the most timely and effective source of information about small unmanned aircraft. Manufacturers of small unmanned aircraft eligible to conduct operations over people should develop a system for maintaining and reviewing information about their products that might identify when their product has a safety issue that may result in noncompliance for operations over people. This information includes, but is not limited to, consumer complaints, warranty returns, insurance claims or payments, product liability lawsuits, reports of production problems, product testing, or other critical analyses of products. Reporting a safety issue to the FAA would not automatically mean that the FAA would determine that the small unmanned aircraft is no longer eligible to operate over people, or that corrective action is necessary. The FAA would evaluate the report and work with holders of an FAA-accepted DOC to determine if corrective action is appropriate. Holders of an FAA-accepted DOC may notify the FAA of safety issues through the FAA website.
8.10.2.4 As part of the notification to the FAA, the holder of the DOC should include information regarding the nature of the safety issue, and how the manufacturer, the remote pilot, or another party will correct the issue. Once the safety issue is corrected, the applicant will submit a DOC to the FAA for acceptance. Once the DOC has been accepted, the remote pilot may operate that small unmanned aircraft over people in the category or categories for which compliance was declared. If the holder is unable or unwilling to address the safety issue, the FAA may begin the rescission process as described in paragraph 8.9.5. This safety issue may not necessarily render the small unmanned aircraft incapable of operation under part 107; rather, it would only necessarily render the small unmanned aircraft ineligible to conduct Category 2 or 3 operations over people without a waiver, exemption, or corrective action provided by an applicant and accepted by the FAA.
8.10.2.5 If a holder of an FAA-accepted DOC identifies a corrective action to address the safety issue, the holder will provide information to the owners and operators and the FAA regarding how the safety issue may be resolved. If the person implements the corrective action to resolve the safety issue, they must use an FAA-accepted MOC to demonstrate the small unmanned aircraft satisfies the safety requirements to conduct Category 2 or 3 operations over people.
8.10.3 Declaring Compliance for Multiple Small Unmanned Aircraft with the Same Make, Model, and Series (If Applicable). The FAA encourages manufacturers to establish and maintain a production quality system or design configuration control system to provide for consistent repeatability of the small unmanned aircraft as identified on the DOC. A system may provide increased confidence that each small unmanned aircraft meets the safety requirements for the category of operation for which the applicant has declared compliance. With a system, an applicant can avoid testing every unit that it manufactures.
8.10.3.1 The FAA may request access to facilities for validation of compliance with applicable industry consensus standards and FAA regulations, as necessary. As part of the DOC, the applicant who submits the DOC for FAA acceptance agrees to allow unrestricted access to its facilities upon request by the FAA.
8.10.3.2 It is the responsibility of the remote pilot to ensure a small unmanned aircraft is eligible for operations over people for the category declared before conducting such operations. Before conducting operations over people, the remote pilot must determine whether the aircraft is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC appropriate to the category of operations for the intended flight. The remote pilot may accomplish this by visiting the FAA’s website.
8.10.3.3 The FAA will maintain a website listing eligible small unmanned aircraft by make, model, series (if applicable), and category declared that are eligible for operations over people. This FAA website will also indicate those small unmanned aircraft by make, model, series (if applicable), and category that have been found to be in noncompliance with the regulatory requirements through the DOC rescission process. The FAA will publish the final rescission on the FAA website and specify the category of small unmanned aircraft that have been rescinded. If the FAA rescinds a DOC as a result of an unresolved safety issue, the FAA will allow an applicant to petition for reconsideration of the decision or modify the small unmanned aircraft to resolve the safety issue. The applicant could then submit a new DOC that the FAA may accept.
8.10.3.4 The person who holds an FAA-accepted DOC can notify the FAA electronically of a safety issue with the small unmanned aircraft on the FAA’s website. When the FAA receives such notification, the FAA will document receipt and may inform the public. The FAA may provide applicant-included information regarding the nature of the safety issue and any other information the applicant provides relating to the safety issue.
8.10.3.5 As part of the notification, the person holding the FAA-accepted DOC should include information regarding the nature of the safety issue and how the safety issue may be corrected. If the person has not determined a corrective action to address the safety issue, the person should advise the public of the nature of the safety issue and a plan for correcting the safety issue. The holder of the FAA-accepted DOC may advise aircraft owners whether operation over people should be continued with their aircraft due to the nature of the safety issue.
8.10.3.6 If the person who holds an FAA-accepted DOC determines a means to correct the safety issue, that person could provide the corrective action information to the owners and operators through their product support and notification system of how the safety issue can be addressed. The FAA will work with the holder of the DOC to determine if the corrective action is acceptable. After the person addresses the safety issue, they must conduct the tests, analysis, or inspections necessary to satisfy the performance-based safety requirements through an FAA-accepted MOC, verify there are no safety defects, and submit a new DOC. When the FAA receives and accepts the new DOC, the FAA-accepted DOC will be provided on the FAA’s website.

8.10.4 Record keeping Requirements.

The FAA requires small unmanned aircraft records related to DOCs be maintained for a minimum of 2 years after the small unmanned aircraft has ceased being manufactured, or the applicant who designs or modifies a small unmanned aircraft must retain the records for 2 years after the applicant submitted the DOC. The detailed description of the MOC and justification showing how the MOC meets the safety requirements for Category 2 or 3, or both, must be retained for as long as the MOC remains accepted. In the event of a safety defect, or if the FAA initiated an enforcement action against an applicant, this information is critical to determine the cause, scope, and severity of the defect or noncompliance. A person submitting a DOC who modifies a small unmanned aircraft must retain all supporting information used to demonstrate the small unmanned aircraft meets the safety requirements of Category 2 or 3.

8.10.4.1 The FAA will access the information described above in several situations. For example, if the FAA becomes aware of a potential safety issue, the FAA will require all substantiating data to determine whether a safety issue exists. The FAA would seek supporting data after any modifications have been made. 

Note: For DOCs that are resubmitted, the same record keeping requirements will apply. 8.10.5 Holders of an FAA-Accepted DOC No Longer Supporting the Small Unmanned Aircraft Design. A DOC remains valid even in the case of discontinued models. Therefore, the small unmanned aircraft may still remain listed on the FAA website as eligible to operate over people in accordance with the original DOC. However, if an unsafe condition is identified, the FAA may rescind the DOC. Any applicant could submit a new DOC with design changes that rectify the unsafe condition, provided the requirements to submit a DOC in accordance with § 107.160 can be satisfied.

8.11 Product Labeling.

8.11.1 Category 1.

The FAA does not require labeling of small unmanned aircraft eligible for Category 1 operations. Marking the retail packaging with the weight of the aircraft, or with a general statement that the aircraft weighs 0.55 pounds or less would be helpful to the consumer. The manufacturer may also provide information to assist the pilot in determining that the small unmanned aircraft does not have any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact. This type of packaging would also serve to promote the aircraft to consumers wishing to buy a small unmanned aircraft that has minimal operating restrictions. The FAA expects applicants to provide this type of information on the packaging of a small unmanned aircraft for easy identification purposes; however, such packaging is not required. It is the responsibility of the remote pilot to ensure the small unmanned aircraft meets the applicable requirements. Before conducting Category 1 operations, the remote pilot must determine that the small unmanned aircraft weighs 0.55 pounds or less, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff and throughout the duration of each operation. Additionally, the remote pilot is responsible for determining the small unmanned aircraft does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact.

8.11.2 Category 2 and Category 3.

To be eligible for operations over people in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3, the small unmanned aircraft must display a label indicating the category or categories for which the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct operations. Because operating limitations apply to operations under Category 3, the label on the small unmanned aircraft indicating eligibility for operations under Category 3 also serves to inform the remote pilot of the operating limitations that they are required to observe (§§ 107.120(b)(1) and 107.130(b)(1)).

8.11.2.1 The FAA does not provide a prescriptive labeling requirement that specifies exactly how an applicant must label an aircraft, what size font to use, specific location, etc. Due to the large variety of small unmanned aircraft models that exist, a prescriptive requirement would be inappropriate. Instead, the FAA allows the small unmanned aircraft to be labeled by any means as long as the label is in English, legible, prominent, and permanently affixed to the aircraft before conducting any operations over people. For example, an applicant may use the following labels: “Category 2,” “Category 3,” “Cat. 2,” or “Cat. 3.”  

The label could be painted, etched, or affixed to the aircraft by any permanent means. The label should be located externally, where it can easily be seen. The FAA does not prescribe a specific location for label placement because of the design variations of small unmanned aircraft. In the case of very small unmanned aircraft, an applicant may need to exercise creativity in determining the location best suited to satisfying the labeling requirement. Locating a label on a non-critical surface will likely prevent wear and removal during normal operations.

8.11.2.2 If a Category 2 or Category 3 label affixed to a small unmanned aircraft is damaged, destroyed, or missing, a remote PIC must label the aircraft in English such that the label is legible, prominent, and will remain on the small unmanned aircraft for the duration of the operation before conducting operations over human beings. The label must correctly identify the category or categories of operation over human beings that the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct.
8.11.2.3 In order to comply with labeling requirements, a remote pilot must ensure the small unmanned aircraft is properly labeled before conducting any operations over people. A clear and legible label enables a remote pilot, an inspector, or a member of the public to identify the types of operations a small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct. An aircraft without a clearly legible label would not be eligible to operate over people. If a label degrades and is no longer legible or attached to the aircraft, the remote pilot is responsible for providing a new label before operating over people. The labeling requirement applies regardless of whether a small unmanned aircraft is obtained directly from an applicant or as a subsequent transfer. No pilot may operate the small unmanned aircraft unless the pilot verifies that the label meets the requirements of §§ 107.120(b)(1) and 107.130(b)(1), as applicable. If the small unmanned aircraft was manufactured before the effective date of this rule, or the small unmanned aircraft was otherwise not labeled, the remote pilot is responsible for determining whether the small unmanned aircraft is listed on an FAA-accepted DOC. If the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to operate over people, the remote pilot is responsible for labeling the aircraft in accordance with § 107.135.
8.11.2.4 A label will need to be changed if a small unmanned aircraft is modified for operation in a different or additional category. If the small unmanned aircraft has been modified and is no longer eligible to operate in its previously labeled category, the label must identify the category the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to operate within. The person who performed the modification would have to remove or cover the previous label so only the label with the new eligible category is visible on the aircraft.

8.12 Remote Pilot Operating Instructions.

The FAA requires applicants to provide remote pilot operating instructions for a small unmanned aircraft eligible to conduct Category 2 or Category 3 operations upon sale or transfer of the small unmanned aircraft, or use of the small unmanned aircraft by someone other than the applicant. In addition, the applicant should keep the instructions up-to-date to account for any changes it makes to a small unmanned aircraft.

8.12.1 The remote pilot operating instructions must include, at a minimum, the following information:

1. General information, system description, and system limitations, including the category or categories of operations over people that the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct. This information must describe whether the small unmanned aircraft must include a specific component on the aircraft in order to fulfill the performance-based safety requirements of Category 2 or Category 3, or both, for which the small unmanned aircraft applicant has declared compliance. For example, if an applicant has designed the small unmanned aircraft to have a parachute system or other device affixed to the aircraft and that component is provided separately, the remote pilot operating instructions must clearly identify the component that must be attached. Similarly, the remote pilot operating instructions must list components that are eligible or necessary for inclusion on the aircraft.

2. A statement describing allowable modifications to the small unmanned aircraft.

a. If modifications are allowed, the remote pilot operating instructions must include a complete description of modifications the applicant has determined do not change the eligibility for the category or categories of operations over people for which the small unmanned aircraft has been declared compliant. Such descriptions of modifications include descriptions of the small unmanned aircraft itself as well as any payload that any person may include on the aircraft.

b. Modifications the applicant describes in the remote pilot operating instructions must be consistent with the basis for the FAA’s acceptance of the DOC. Any person, however, who modifies a small unmanned aircraft in a way that will affect the eligibility of the small unmanned aircraft to operate over people under Category 2 or Category 3 is required to submit a new DOC for FAA acceptance before the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to operate over people.

3. A statement regarding whether the small unmanned aircraft has variable modes or configurations.

a. For a small unmanned aircraft that has such variable modes or configurations, the instructions must describe how a remote pilot can verify what mode or configuration the small unmanned aircraft is in and how to switch between modes or configurations. This information assists the remote pilot in verifying that the small unmanned aircraft is in the correct mode or configuration to conduct a certain category of operations over people.

b. Similarly, if a remote pilot chooses to operate in a different category of operations over people, or in a mode or configuration that is not permitted for operations over people but is permitted under part 107, that person must be able to discern the necessary information from the remote pilot operating instructions. The remote pilot should not be able to inadvertently change the mode or configuration. 

8.12.2 The remote pilot operating instructions must be specific to the particular small unmanned aircraft design. An applicant may update existing instructions to include the required information with the small unmanned aircraft, or the applicant may create a new set of instructions that are specific to operations over people.
8.12.2.1 The FAA does not require the applicant to provide the remote pilot operating instructions in a particular format. An applicant could choose to provide the operating instructions as part of the packaging of a small unmanned aircraft, make them available electronically, or by any other means. Regardless of the manner in which the applicant transmits the instructions to remote pilots, the applicant should ensure the instructions remain up-to-date. Remote PICs should be able to discern clearly the set of operating instructions that are in effect at the time of the intended operation of the small unmanned aircraft over people.
8.12.2.2 Information contained in the remote pilot operating instructions should provide enough detail to enable remote pilots to understand clearly how to configure the small unmanned aircraft to ensure compliance with applicable requirements for operating over people. This information informs the remote pilot and aids in decision making. While the remote pilot operating instructions can aid a remote pilot in operating safely, it is ultimately the responsibility of the remote PIC to determine the safe operational parameters for the operation. A description of each of the elements the FAA requires in remote pilot operating instructions follows.

Sample Remote Pilot Operating Instructions.

INTRODUCTION

The [small unmanned aircraft make and model] is a high performance aerial imaging aircraft that the FAA has determined is eligible to operate over people. The system comes fully assembled and includes the aircraft, touch screen ground station and 3-axis gimbal camera capable of 16 megapixel still photos and full HD 60 FPS videos. Operating the [small unmanned aircraft make and model], will enable you to capture remarkable photographs and video footage for a wide variety of applications.

GENERAL INFORMATION IMPORTANT:

This small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct operations over people in Category 2 and Category 3 provided the remote pilot complies with the modification instructions. Any modification to the small unmanned aircraft not provided for in the remote pilot operating instructions may affect eligibility for operations over people. Please take the time to read this entire instruction manual for more information on operating safety and according to the Federal Aviation Regulations.

NOTE: Before any person may conduct operations of the [small unmanned aircraft make and model], you should create an account online with [manufacturer’s name], at [manufacturer’s website]. This will enable you to receive important updates regarding the small unmanned aircraft and its eligibility to operate over people, as well as updates, bulletins, instructional videos and more.

SYSTEM DESCRIPTION

Selection of the FLIGHT MODE

The [small unmanned aircraft make and model] is programmed with three (3) flight modes. The flight mode can be selected via the Flight Mode Control Selection Switch located just above the left-hand control stick.

IMPORTANT: Selection of the flight mode determines the category of operations that the [small unmanned aircraft make and model] may conduct over people. The following selection options are available:

Flight Mode G: Any operation not conducted over people.

Flight Mode 2: Any operation conducted in accordance with category 2 operations over people.

Flight Mode 3: Any operation conducted in accordance with category 3 operations over people.

REQUIRED COMPONENTS

Category 2 Required Components

1) The [small unmanned aircraft make and model] Airframe

2) Transmitter and Ground Station

3) USB to Micro USB Cable

4) USB Interface/Programmer

5) 3400mAh 9.1V LiPo Battery

6) 9.1V LiPo Balance Connector Charge Lead

7) AC to DC Adapter/Power Supply

8) 16GB microSD Card w/Adapter

9) CAT 2 Rotor Blades & Guards

Category 3 Required Components

1) The [small unmanned aircraft make and model] Airframe

2) Transmitter and Ground Station

3) USB to Micro USB Cable

4) USB Interface/Programmer

5) 5600mAh 11.1V LiPo Battery

6) 11.1V LiPo Balance Connector Charge Lead

7) AC to DC Adapter/Power Supply

8) 16GB microSD Card w/Adapter

9) CAT 3 Rotor Blades & Guards

OPTIONAL COMPONENTS

The [small unmanned aircraft make and model] is already equipped with a high-definition camera. If you intend to conduct operations over people in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3, you may replace the camera only with a pre-approved camera listed in the remote pilot operating instructions, which may be found on the [manufacturer’s] website. Additionally, for operations over people in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3, you may not affix any other payload to the [small unmanned aircraft make and model] unless it is listed in the remote pilot operating instructions, which may be found on the [manufacturer’s] website. Any permissible payload you affix to the small unmanned aircraft must be securely attached throughout the duration of all operations that occur in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3. Failure to adhere to these requirements will result in the ineligibility of the [small unmanned aircraft make and model] to operate over people in accordance with Category 2 or Category 3.

8.12.2.3 Additional Information.

Part 107 currently requires remote pilots to conduct a preflight inspection and ensure that the small unmanned aircraft is in a condition for safe operation. These requirements do not change for operations over people. In fact, a preflight assessment for operations over people should be more complex to account for the additional risk inherent in those operations. For example, the remote PIC should consider:

• The location of the people over whom the small unmanned aircraft would fly.

• The weather and other factors that may play a role in the performance of the small unmanned aircraft.

• The environment and airspace in which the operation is being conducted.

• The remote pilot operating instructions to consider the characteristics of small unmanned aircraft, for example, the expected battery life of the small unmanned aircraft.

8.12.2.4 The FAA anticipates the remote pilot operating instructions, which are required for small unmanned aircraft eligible to operate in Category 2 or 3 of part 107 subpart D, will assist the remote pilot in conducting their preflight check and ensuring that the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation prior to conducting the operation.
8.12.2.5 Although the FAA does not require the remote pilot operating instructions to contain information in addition to the above enumerated items, the FAA encourages small unmanned aircraft manufacturers to provide additional operational information to remote pilots. This information will assist remote pilots in planning operations, decision making throughout the flight, and the overall safe conduct of operations of their small unmanned aircraft by providing valuable operating information about the specific small unmanned aircraft design and capabilities. Manufacturers may wish to develop voluntary standards regarding the information provided in the remote pilot operating instructions. These would provide consistency across small unmanned aircraft remote pilot operating instructions, and the remote pilots would have a clearer understanding of what information would accompany a small unmanned aircraft. Information that a small unmanned aircraft manufacturer may wish to consider providing includes, but is not limited to, the factors in paragraphs 8.12.2.5.1 through 8.12.2.5.3 below.

8.12.2.5.1 Performance, Limitations, and Operating Characteristics:

• Operating temperature limits (high and low limits);

• Weather limitations to include wind, precipitation, and maximum wind gusts;

• Altitude limitations to include maximum operating altitude;

• Range limitations;

• Power source to include endurance, power setting, and consumption levels appropriate to the type of propulsion system (fuel, battery, etc.);

• Airspeed limitations;

• Maximum weights;

• Prohibited maneuvers; and

• Other limitations necessary for safe operations over people.

8.12.2.5.2 Normal, Abnormal, and Emergency Operating Procedures:

• Preflight inspection; and

• Emergency or abnormal procedures.

8.12.2.5.3 Weight and Balance (W&B).

Information regarding the W&B of the small unmanned aircraft.

8.13 Remote Pilot Responsibilities When Conducting Operations Over People.

The remote pilot has additional responsibilities when conducting small unmanned aircraft operations over people. In addition to the other operational requirements in part 107, the pilot is responsible for determining they are operating a small unmanned aircraft in the appropriate category for the type of operation they will conduct. The remote pilot is also responsible for verifying the small unmanned aircraft is properly labeled and listed on an FAA-accepted DOC. The remote pilot should perform all of the recommended preflight actions for all flights described in previous chapters and appendices of this AC.

8.14 Operations Over People at Night.

The categories and their respective restrictions for operations over people do not change due to conditions of night. The test methods, analyses, or manner of inspection an applicant uses for determining that a small unmanned aircraft meets the performance-based safety requirements are time-of-day neutral. The risk mitigation measures apply equally to day and night operations when operating over people, with specific requirements for both the manufacturer of the small unmanned aircraft and the remote pilot.

8.14.1 If the small unmanned aircraft used in an operation at night is eligible to operate in any category for operations over people listed in part 107 subpart D, then the remote pilot may operate the small unmanned aircraft over human beings at night pursuant to the requirements of §§ 107.29 and 107.39. In declaring any small unmanned aircraft as eligible for operations in Category 2 or 3, manufacturers who produce small unmanned aircraft eligible to operate over people at night will most likely need to consider the mass of an anti-collision light in declaring the small unmanned aircraft fulfills the safety requirements set forth in either § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a).
APPENDIX A. RISK ASSESSMENT TOOLS
A.1 Purpose of This Appendix.

The information in this appendix is a presentation of aeronautical decision-making (ADM), Crew Resource Management (CRM), and an example of a viable risk assessment process. This process is used to identify hazards and classify the potential risk that those hazards could present in an operation. It also provides examples of potential criteria for the severity of consequences and likelihood of occurrence that may be used by a small unmanned aircraft remote pilot in command (PIC).

A.2 Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM).

The ADM process addresses all aspects of decision making in a solo or crew environment and identifies the steps involved in good decision making. These steps for good decision making are as follows:

A.2.1 Identifying Personal Attitudes Hazardous to Safe Flight.

Hazardous attitudes can affect unmanned operations if the remote PIC is not aware of the hazards, leading to such things as: getting behind the aircraft/situation, operating without adequate fuel/battery reserve, loss of positional or situational awareness, operating outside the envelope, and failure to complete all flight planning tasks, preflight inspections, and checklists. Operational pressure is a contributor to becoming subject to these pitfalls.

A.2.2 Learning Behavior Modification Techniques.

Continuing to utilize risk assessment procedures for the operation will assist in identifying risk associated with the operation. Conducting an attitude assessment will identify situations where a hazardous attitude may be present.

A.2.3 Learning How to Recognize and Cope with Stress.

Stress is ever present in our lives and you may already be familiar with situations that create stress in aviation. However, small UAS operations may create stressors that differ from manned aviation. Such examples may include: working with an inexperienced crewmember, lack of standard crewmember training, interacting with the public and city officials, and understanding new regulatory requirements. Proper planning for the operation can reduce or eliminate stress, allowing you to focus more clearly on the operation.

A.2.4 Developing Risk Assessment Skills.

As with any aviation operation, identifying associated hazards is the first step. Analyzing the likelihood and severity of the hazards occurring establishes the probability of risk. In most cases, steps can be taken to mitigate, even eliminate, those risks. Actions such as using visual observers (VO), completing a thorough preflight inspection, planning for weather, familiarity with the airspace and operational area, proper aircraft loading, and performance planning can mitigate identified risks. Figure A-1, Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Process Chart, is an example of a risk assessment tool. Others are also available for use.

A.2.5 Using All Available Resources with More Than One Crew member (CRM).

A characteristic of CRM is creating an environment where open communication is encouraged and expected, and involves the entire crew to maximize team performance. Many of the same resources that are available to manned aircraft operations are available to unmanned aircraft operations. For example, remote PICs can take advantage of traditional CRM techniques by utilizing additional crew members, such as VOs and other ground crew. These crew members can provide information about traffic, airspace, weather, equipment, and aircraft loading and performance. If conducting operations over people or moving vehicles, crew members can also provide timely information regarding the presence of those not directly participating in the operation. Examples of good CRM include:

A.2.5.1 Communication Procedures.

One way to accomplish this is for the VO to maintain visual contact with the small unmanned aircraft and maintain awareness of the surrounding airspace and operational area, and then communicate flight status and any hazards to the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls so that appropriate action can be taken. Then, as conditions change, the remote PIC should brief the crew on the changes and any needed adjustments to ensure a safe outcome of the operation.

A.2.5.2 Communication Methods.

The remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, and VO must work out a method of communication, such as the use of a handheld radio or other effective means that would not create a distraction and allows them to understand each other. The remote PIC should evaluate which method is most appropriate for the operation and should make a determination prior to flight.

A.2.5.3 Task Management.

Tasks vary depending on the complexity of the operation. Depending upon the area of the operations, additional crew members may be needed to operate the small unmanned aircraft safely. The remote PIC should utilize sufficient crew members to ensure no one on the team becomes overloaded. Once a member of the team becomes overworked, a greater possibility of an incident/accident exists.

A.2.5.4 Other Resources.

Take advantage of information from a weather briefing, air traffic control (ATC), the FAA, local pilots, and landowners. Technology can aid in decision making and improve situational awareness. Being able to collect the information from these resources and manage the information is key to situational awareness and could have a positive effect on your decision making.

A.2.6 Evaluating the Effectiveness of ADM Skills.

Successful decision making is measured by a pilot’s consistent ability to keep themselves, any persons involved in the operation, and the aircraft in good condition regardless of the conditions of any given flight. As with manned operations, complacency and overconfidence can be risks. Several checklists and models exist to assist in the decision-making process. Use the IMSAFE checklist to ensure adequate mental and physical preparation for the flight. Use the DECIDE model to assist in continually evaluating each operation for hazards and analyzing risk. Paragraph A.4.8 and AC 60-22, Aeronautical Decision Making, can provide additional information on these models and others. 

A.3 Hazard Identification.

Hazards related to the small unmanned aircraft and its operating environment must be identified and controlled. The analysis process used to define hazards needs to consider all components of the system, based on the equipment being used and the environment in which it is operated. The key question to ask during analysis of the small unmanned aircraft and its operation is, “what if?” Small unmanned aircraft remote PICs are expected to exercise due diligence in identifying significant and reasonably foreseeable hazards related to their operations. It is recommended that remote pilots document small unmanned aircraft and operating environment hazards in accordance with the hazard identification process described in Figure A-1.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Process Chart

A.4 Safety Risk Assessment and Mitigation Steps.

Before flight, the following Safety Risk Assessment and Mitigation steps should be taken. Figure A-2 in this paragraph is an example of a risk assessment plan in table format to accomplish this task. This example should not be considered a required format. It is designed simply to show one way to document a risk assessment and mitigation plan.

Sample Safety Risk Assessment and Mitigation Steps Before Flight

Notes:

(1) Likelihood: Likelihood the risk will occur – Improbable, Remote, Occasional, Probable, or Frequent.

(2) Severity: Consequence if the hazard occurs – No safety effect, Minor, Major, Hazardous, or Catastrophic.

(3) Risk: Combination of Likelihood and Severity – Low, Medium, High, or Avoid (i.e., changes to operation are required for mitigation or the operation should not be conducted). These definitions are used to assign the level of risk prior to consideration of risk mitigation effects.

(4) Emergency or Contingency Procedures: This column is your plan of action if the event still occurs.

(a) In order to identify effectively all potential hazards and their associated risks, you should first begin with a thorough description of the operational environment. This should include (but is not limited to):

1. Current and forecasted weather conditions.

2. Condition of the equipment to be used and associated operational limitations.

3. Remote pilot, observer, and other participants’ fatigue and awareness levels.

4. Terrain and obstacles (such as proximity to power lines, buildings, etc.) in the planned and emergency/contingency flightpath.

5. Identify the hazard(s) associated with flying over people (hazard column above).

6. If the operation will occur at night, identify hazards of flying at night, to include those operations whose mission duration includes portions of day, twilight, and night. Such potential hazards include night vision adaptation when unlit towers and buildings are present in the area of operation. Other potential hazards include current and forecast weather conditions and terrain features that may affect the ability for other aircraft operating in the area to see the anti-collision light for at least 3 statute miles (sm).

7. Identify other hazard(s) present during all small unmanned aircraft flights, such as schedule pressure, health issues, lack of familiarity with equipment, etc. (hazard column above).

(b) Once you have identified the potential hazards, complete the following steps for each hazard.

(c) List the cause(s) of each hazard (cause column above).

(d) List the effect(s) of each hazard (effect column above).

(e) Perform a qualitative risk assessment by:

1. Estimating the likelihood of each hazard occurring (probability column (1) above).

2. Estimating the severity of each hazard, if it occurs (severity column (2) above).

3. Defining the risk of each hazard as a combination of the probability and severity (risk column (3) above).

(f) Describe the mitigation steps for each hazard (mitigation column above). Develop controls to mitigate all risks to an acceptable level. If such development is not possible, the operator should not operate the small unmanned aircraft until the operator can accomplish this.

(g) Describe any procedures to accomplish, including emergency and contingency procedures, should the hazard occur (emergency or contingency procedure column (4) above).

A.4.1 In-Flight Mitigations.

During the flight, the following safety risk assessment and mitigation steps should be taken:

1. Properly use the assessment and inspection checklists, including briefing of appropriate safety risk assessment and mitigation steps.

2. Maintain proper configuration of the small unmanned aircraft for the category of the operation.

3. Constantly re-assess risk.

4. Have and follow procedures for making changes to the flight profile, including crew member notification.

A.4.2 Post-Flight.

After the flight, the following steps should be taken:

1. Perform a thorough debriefing.

2. Capture lessons learned and recommendations.

A.4.3 Contributors to Consider When Performing Risk Assessments.

The following list contains examples of factors to consider in assigning a risk rating to a specific identified hazard. This is not a comprehensive list, but an initial list of items to consider:

• Workload.

• Configuration (gross weight, center of gravity (CG), etc.).

• Environment (weather, ATC, particular airport conditions, turbulence, etc.).

• Specific small unmanned aircraft limitations as stated by the manufacturer.

• Consequence of failure in technique, system, or structure.

A.4.4 Formulating Mitigations.

Mitigate all risks to an acceptable level. Mitigations are actions to minimize, understand, prepare, or respond to causes of the hazards. They are actions the remote pilot, crewmember(s), or other team member(s) have control over. Mitigations will address reducing either the probability of a cause, the severity of the effect, or both. Mitigations should be detailed and specific in nature. The following items should be considered when formulating mitigations. This is not a comprehensive list, but an initial list of items to consider:

• Set limits on flight conditions (e.g., minimum weather, altitude, minimum/maximum speed, etc.).

• Clearly define and brief criteria that could cause the discontinuation of the flight (e.g., items that affect safety of flight) and who will make and execute decisions.

• Review hazards and specify steps to reduce the associated risk(s).

• Review Weight and Balance (W&B) computations.

A.4.5 Emergency and Contingency Procedures.

Describe any emergency and contingency procedures to accomplish if the hazard occurs, despite mitigation steps (emergency or contingency procedure column (4) in Figure A-2 above).

A.4.6 Other Risk Assessment Tools for Flight and Operational Risk Management.

Other tools can also be used for flight or operational risk assessments and can be developed by the remote PICs themselves. The key consideration is ensuring all potential hazards and risks are identified and appropriate actions are taken to reduce the risk to persons and property not associated with the operations.

A.4.7 Reducing Risk.

Risk analyses should concentrate not only on assigning levels of severity and likelihood, but on determining why these particular levels were selected. This is referred to as root cause analysis, and is the first step in developing effective controls to reduce risk to lower levels. In many cases, simple brainstorming sessions among crewmembers is the most effective and affordable method of finding ways to reduce risk. This also has the advantage of involving people who will ultimately be required to implement the controls developed.

A.4.7.1 It is very easy to get quite bogged down in trying to identify all hazards and risks.

That is not the purpose of a risk assessment. The focus should be upon those hazards which pose the greatest risks. As stated earlier, by documenting and compiling these processes, a remote PIC can build an arsenal of safety practices that will add to the safety and success of future operations.

A.4.8 Sample Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment.

A.4.8.1 Example. I am the remote PIC of a small unmanned aircraft in the proximity of an accident scene shooting aerial footage. Much like pilots in manned aircraft must adhere to preflight action (14 CFR part 91, § 91.103), I must adhere to preflight familiarization, inspection, and aircraft operations (14 CFR part 107, § 107.49). Let’s say there is an obvious takeoff and landing site that I intend to use. What if, while I am operating, a manned aircraft (emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter) requires use of the same area and I am not left with a suitable landing site? Furthermore, I am running low on power. If I consider this situation prior to flight, I can use the Basic Hazard Identification and Mitigation Process. Through this process, I might determine that an acceptable level of risk can be achieved by also having an alternate landing site and possibly additional sites at which I can sacrifice the small unmanned aircraft to avoid imposing risks to people on the ground or to manned aircraft

A-8 operations.

It is really a simple process: I must consider the hazards presented during this particular operation, determine the risk severity, and then develop a plan to lessen (or mitigate) the risk to an acceptable level. By documenting and compiling these processes, I can build a collection of safety practices that will add to the safety and success of future operations. The following are some proven methods that can help a new remote PIC along the way:

A.4.8.2 Hazard Identification.

Using the Personal Minimums (PAVE) Checklist for Risk Management, I will set personal minimums based upon my specific flight experience, health habits, and tolerance for stress, just to name a few. After identifying hazards, I will then input them into the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Process Chart (see Figure A-1).

1. Personal: Am I healthy for flight and what are my personal minimums based upon my experience operating this small unmanned aircraft? During this step, I will often use the IMSAFE checklist in order to perform a more in-depth evaluation:

• Illness – Am I suffering from any illness or symptom of an illness which might affect me in flight?

• Medication – Am I currently taking any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter)?

• Stress – Am I experiencing any psychological or emotional factors that might affect my performance?

• Alcohol – Have I consumed alcohol within the last 8 to 24 hours?

• Fatigue – Have I received sufficient sleep and rest in the recent past?

• Eating – Am I sufficiently nourished?

2. Aircraft: Have I conducted a preflight check of my small UAS (aircraft, control station (CS), takeoff and landing equipment, anti-collision light for night operations, etc.)? Has it been determined to be in a condition for safe operation? Is the payload properly secured to the aircraft prior to flight?

3. Environment: What is the weather like? Am I comfortable and experienced enough to fly in the forecast weather conditions? Have I considered all of my options and left myself an “out?” Have I determined alternative landing spots in case of an emergency? Will I be flying at night and how may that change the way I operate? What are my associated risks when operating at night? Will I have the ability to see the anti-collision light for at least 3 sm? Will other aircraft that may be operating in the area have the ability to see the anti-collision light for at least 3 sm, considering weather and terrain (certain weather phenomena, such as fog, terrain features, and other phenomena, and obstacles such as hills, mountains, and manmade structures, may affect the ability for me and other aircraft to see the anti-collision light for at least 3 sm)? Is the flash rate sufficient to avoid a collision? Will I be operating over people, and if so, how will I ensure I do not create any hazards to persons not directly participating in the operation? Can my operational area be considered an open-air assembly of persons? Will I be operating over moving vehicles, and if so, how will I ensure I do not create any hazards to vehicles? Will my operations (landing spots) need to be relocated due to the people?

4. External Pressures: Am I stressed or anxious? Is this a flight that will cause me to be stressed or anxious? Is there pressure to complete the flight operation quickly? Am I dealing with an unhealthy safety culture? Am I being honest with myself and others about my personal operational abilities and limitations?

A.4.9 Controlling Risk.

After hazards and risks are fully understood through the preceding steps, risk controls must be designed and implemented. These may be additional or changed procedures, additional or modified equipment, the addition of VOs, or any of a number of other changes.

A.4.10 Residual and Substitute Risk.

Residual risk is the risk remaining after mitigation has been completed. Often, this is a multistep process, continuing until risk has been mitigated to an acceptable level necessary to begin or continue operation. After these controls are designed but before the operation begins or continues, an assessment must be made of whether the controls are likely to be effective and/or whether they introduce new hazards to the operation. The latter condition, introduction of new hazards, is referred to as substitute risk, a situation in which the resolution is worse than the original issue. The loop seen in Figure A-1 that returns back to the top of the diagram depicts the use of the preceding hazard identification, risk analysis, and risk assessment processes to determine whether the modified operation is acceptable.

A.4.11 Starting the Operation.

Once a remote PIC develops and implements appropriate risk controls, the operation can begin.

APPENDIX B. SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATIONAL INFORMATION
B.1 Determining Operational Performance.

The manufacturer may provide operational and performance information that contains the operational performance data for the aircraft such as data pertaining to takeoff, climb, range, endurance, descent, and landing. To be able to make practical use of the aircraft’s capabilities and limitations, it is essential to understand the significance of the operational data. The use of this data in flying operations is essential for safe and efficient operation. It should be emphasized that manufacturers’ information regarding performance data is not standardized. If manufacturer-published performance data is unavailable, it is advisable to seek out performance data that may have already been determined and published by other users of the same small UAS manufacturer model and use that data as a starting point. B.2 Small Unmanned Aircraft Loading and Its Effects on Performance.

B.2.1 Weight and Balance (W&B).

Before any flight, the remote PIC should verify the aircraft is correctly loaded by determining the W&B condition of the aircraft. An aircraft’s W&B restrictions established by the manufacturer or the builder should be closely followed. Compliance with the manufacturer’s W&B limits is critical to flight safety. The remote PIC must consider the consequences of an overweight aircraft, as it may result in an unsafe condition.

B.2.1.1 Although a maximum gross takeoff weight may be specified, the aircraft may not always safely take off with this load under all conditions. Conditions that affect takeoff and climb performance, such as high elevations, high air temperatures, and high humidity (high density altitudes) may require a reduction in weight before flight is attempted. Other factors to consider prior to takeoff are runway/launch area length, surface, slope, surface wind, and the presence of obstacles. These factors may require a reduction in weight prior to flight.

B.2.1.2 Weight changes during flight also have a direct effect on aircraft performance. Fuel burn is the most common weight change that takes place during flight. As fuel is used, the aircraft becomes lighter and performance is improved, but this could have a negative effect on balance. In UAS operations, weight change during flight may occur when expendable items are used on board (e.g., a jettisonable load).

B.2.2 Balance, Stability, and Center of Gravity (CG).

Adverse balance conditions (i.e., weight distribution) may affect flight characteristics in much the same manner as those mentioned for an excess weight condition. Limits for the location of the CG may be established by the manufacturer. The CG is not a fixed point marked on the aircraft; its location depends on the distribution of aircraft weight. As variable load items are shifted or expended, there may be a resultant shift in CG location. The remote PIC should determine how the CG will shift and the resultant effects on the aircraft. If the CG is not within the allowable limits after loading or does not remain within the allowable limits for safe flight, it will be necessary to relocate or shed some weight before flight is attempted.

B.3 Sources of Weather Information for Small Unmanned Aircraft Operations.

Remote PICs are encouraged to obtain weather information prior to flight from Flight Service. Remote PICs can create a free account in order to use the briefing service. While Flight Service does offer a telephone-based service, it is intended for manned aircraft pilots only.

B.3.1 National Weather Service (NWS).

Remote PICs are also encouraged to visit the NWS’s Aviation Weather Center (AWC). This free, web-based service does not require registration and offers all of the weather products important to a remote PIC, such as Aviation Routine Weather Reports (METAR) and Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF).

While reviewing the weather for your intended operation, it is also critical that the remote PIC review any TFRs at the FAA’s TFR website.

B.4 Weather and the Effects on Performance.

Weather is an important factor that influences aircraft performance and flying safety. Atmospheric pressure and density, wind, and uneven surface heating are factors that affect small unmanned aircraft performance and must be considered prior to flight.

B.4.1 Wind.

Wind speed and direction are important as they affect takeoff, landing, and cruise of flight operations. Geological features, trees, structures, and other anomalies can affect the wind direction and speed close to the ground. In particular, ground topography, trees, and buildings can break up the flow of the wind and create wind gusts that change rapidly in direction and speed. The remote PIC should be vigilant when operating small unmanned aircraft near large buildings or other man-made structures and natural obstructions, such as mountains, bluffs, or canyons. The intensity of the turbulence associated with ground obstructions depends on the size of the obstacle and the primary velocity of the wind. This same condition is even more noticeable when flying in mountainous regions. While the wind flows smoothly up the windward side of the mountain and the upward currents help to carry an aircraft over the peak of the mountain, the wind on the leeward side does not act in a similar manner. As the air flows down the leeward side of the mountain, the air follows the contour of the terrain and is increasingly turbulent. This tends to push an aircraft into the side of a mountain. The stronger the wind, the greater the downward pressure and turbulence become. Due to the effect terrain has on the wind in valleys or canyons, downdrafts can be severe.

B.4.2 Surface Heat.

Different surfaces radiate heat in varying amounts. Plowed ground, rocks, sand, and barren land give off a larger amount of heat, whereas water, trees, and other areas of vegetation tend to absorb and retain heat. The resulting uneven heating of the air creates small areas of local circulation called convective currents, which creates bumpy, turbulent air. Convective currents, with their rising and sinking air can adversely affect the controllability of the small unmanned aircraft.

B.5 Battery Fires.

Lithium-based batteries are highly flammable and capable of ignition. A battery fire could cause an in-flight emergency by causing a LOC of the small unmanned aircraft. Lithium battery fires can be caused when a battery short-circuits, is improperly charged, is heated to extreme temperatures, is damaged as a result of a crash, is mishandled, or is simply defective. The remote PIC should consider following the manufacturer’s recommendations, when available, to help ensure safe battery handling and usage.

B.6 Small UAS Frequency Utilization.

A small UAS typically uses RFs for the communication link between the CS and the small unmanned aircraft.

B.6.1 Frequency Spectrum (RF) Basics. The 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz systems are the unlicensed band RFs that most small UAS use for the connection between the CS and the small unmanned aircraft. Note the frequencies are also used for computer wireless networks and the interference can cause problems when operating an unmanned aircraft in an area (e.g., dense housing and office buildings) that has many wireless signals. LOC and flyaways are some of the reported problems with small UAS frequency implications.

B.6.1.1 To avoid frequency interference, many modern small UAS operate using a 5.8 GHz system to control the small unmanned aircraft and a 2.4 GHz system to transmit video and photos to the ground. Consult the small UAS operating manual and manufacturer’s recommended procedures before conducting small UAS operations.

B.6.1.2 It should be noted that both RF bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) are considered line of sight and the command and control link between the CS and the small unmanned aircraft will not work properly when barriers are between the CS and the unmanned aircraft. Part 107 requires the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls to be able to see the unmanned aircraft at all times, which should also help prevent obstructions from interfering with the line of sight frequency spectrum.

B.6.2 Spectrum Authorization. Frequency spectrum used for small unmanned aircraft operations are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Radio transmissions, such as those used to control an unmanned aircraft and to downlink real-time video, must use frequency bands that are approved for use by the operating agency. The FCC authorizes civil operations. Some operating frequencies are unlicensed and can be used freely (e.g., 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz) without FCC approval. All other frequencies require a user-specific license for all civil users, except Federal agencies, to be obtained from the FCC.

APPENDIX C. SMALL UAS MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION BEST PRACTICES

C.1 In the interest of assisting operators with varying background levels of small UAS knowledge and skill, below is a chart offering conditions that, if noticed during a preflight inspection or check, may support a determination that the small unmanned aircraft is not in a condition for safe operation. Further inspection to identify the scope of damage and extent of possible repair needed to remedy the unsafe condition may be necessary prior to flight.

C.2 For Category 4 maintenance requirements for operating in accordance with 14 CFR part 107, see Chapter 8, paragraph 8.3.7.4.

C.3 For Category 4 record retention requirements, see Chapter 8, paragraph 8.3.7.4.1.

Small UAS Condition Chart

Small UAS Condition Chart

Small UAS Condition Chart

APPENDIX D. REMOTE PILOT CERTIFICATION AND APPLICANT IDENTITY VERIFICATION
D.1 Remote Pilot Certification.

Specific knowledge requirements for the Remote Pilot Certificate are located in 14 CFR part 107 subpart C.

D.1.1 A person may apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate with one of the following certifying official: a CFI, a DPE, through an FAA aviation safety inspector (ASI) or aviation safety technician (AST), or with an Airman Certification Representative (ACR) associated with a 14 CFR part 141 pilot school. All Remote Pilot Certificates will be issued by the Civil Aviation Registry Division (AFB-700) on a high quality plastic card stock containing tamper- and counterfeit-resistant features.

D.1.2 Additional information on the eligibility requirements for remote pilots can be found at part 107, § 107.61. Note: If an applicant has a known medical issue that would require a limitation on the Remote Pilot Certificate, refer that applicant to the responsible Flight Standards office to ensure the application is processed with the correct limitations.

D.2 Acceptance of a Remote Pilot Application.

Certifying officials may accept an individual’s application for an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate by utilizing the FAA’s IACRA or the paper FAA Form 8710-13, Remote Pilot Certificate and/or Rating Application.

D.3 IACRA.

Authorized individuals are encouraged to utilize IACRA for the purpose of accepting a remote pilot application. IACRA is a web-based certification/rating application system that guides the user through the FAA’s application process. IACRA may be accessed at https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/. The website also contains an instruction manual for additional assistance.

D.4 CFI Registration Process for Accepting an Application for a Remote Pilot Certificate.

In order for a CFI to accept a remote pilot application, the CFI must be registered in IACRA as the role of “Recommending Instructor.” Even though the instructor is utilizing the role of a certifying officer, their signature will be reflected in the “Instructor Action” section of FAA Form 8710-13.

D.5 Establishing Eligibility.

Before processing an application for a Remote Pilot Certificate, the certifying official must ensure the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of § 107.61, meets the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR part 61, § 61.56, and verifies the applicant’s identity. The certifying official should refer to AC 60-28, FAA English Language Standard for an FAA Certificate Issued Under 14 CFR Parts 61, 63, 65, and 107, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) website to prepare for the assessment. The AC outlines the required procedures to ensure the applicant meets the FAA Aviation English Language Proficiency (AELP) standards. The ICAO website. After conducting an assessment of the applicant’s English language proficiency, in accordance with AC 60-28, if it is determined the applicant does not meet the FAA standard, process the application by:

D.5.1 When utilizing IACRA, answer the questions concerning FAA AELP. The system will recognize whether the applicant has met the FAA AELP and process the application as necessary. No additional paperwork will be required to be mailed to the responsible Flight Standards office.

D.5.2 When utilizing a paper FAA Form 8710-13, if the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of § 107.61, the certifying official will check the “Application Rejected” box in the appropriate section of the Submitting Official’s Report and specify the reason for rejection. The authorized individual will also check the “No” box after the statement “Applicant meets FAA Aviation English Language Proficiency.” After verifying the application is complete, forward this application to the responsible Flight Standards office for data entry and processing, even if the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements.

The address and contact information for the responsible Flight Standards

Note: If the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of § 107.61, do not check the “Application Accepted” box. This box should only be checked once it is determined the applicant meets the eligibility requirements. Check the “Application Rejected” box and continue processing the application. The terms “accept” and “reject” are used to notify AFB-700 of whether the applicant meets the requirements for the issuance of a Remote Pilot Certificate.

D.6 Application Process Utilizing IACRA.

A person who meets the eligibility requirements of a Remote Pilot Certificate may register as an applicant through IACRA, which stores FAA Form 8710-13 electronically until a certifying official accesses the form. FAA Form 8710-13 may be accessed by a certifying official by searching for the person’s unique FAA tracking number (FTN) assigned by an FAA internal system after the person has completed the required items on the remote pilot application form. The certifying official will verify that the applicant meets the regulatory eligibility requirements and that the application has been completed properly. Additionally, the certifying official will verify the applicant’s identity and input the photograph identification data into IACRA when prompted. Once the authorized individual has completed the application through IACRA, it will be transmitted electronically to AFB-700 for processing.

D.7 Application Process Utilizing Paper FAA Form 8710-13.

Applicants have the ability to apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate in paper format on the FAA Form 8710-13 to ensure all applicants have the uninterrupted ability to apply for an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate. The same information captured on the paper FAA Form 8710-13 is captured within IACRA. Once it is verified the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of § 107.61, the certifying official will check the “Application Accepted” box in the Submitting Official’s Report section. The certifying official will also select the “Yes” box after the statement “Applicant meets FAA Aviation English Language Proficiency.” Once the authorized individual has verified that the application was completed in accordance with the form’s instructions, the certifying official will send the completed remote pilot application to their responsible Flight Standards office for data entry. The address and contact information for the responsible Flight Standards office.

Once the data is captured, the FSDO will mail the application file to AFB-700 via first-class mail to the following address: DOT/FAA, Airmen Certification Branch, AFB-720, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125. The FAA notes that the submittal of a paper FAA Form 8710-13 may delay the issuance of a Remote Pilot Certificate because of mailing time to AFB-700.

D.8 Documentation of Identification on Paper FAA Form 8710-13.

The certifying official accepting an individual’s application for a Remote Pilot Certificate should review the person’s photo identification presented at the time of application to confirm it is current and valid. The flight instructor should document the type of identification and number submitted (e.g., Virginia driver’s license number A12345678 and expiration date xx/xx/xxxx) on the FAA Form 8710-13 “Airman’s Identification” section in accordance with the following guidelines.

D.9 Pilot Certificate Applicant Identity Verification.

D.9.1 General Identity Document Review Guidelines:

D.9.1.1 Applicant must present a government-issued photo identification (refer to suggested list below).

D.9.1.2 Confirm that the applicant matches the photo on the identification document.

D.9.1.3 Identity document must be valid. Please note that some States do not provide an expiration date on certain documentation.

D.9.1.4 Name on the identity document must substantially match the name on the application.

D.9.1.4.1 Use best judgment when comparing the identity documents and application data as a person may reasonably identify themselves through the use of multiple variations of their legal, given, and/or nicknames (e.g., Robert Michael Smith Jr; Robert M Smith Jr; Robbie M Smith; Bob/Bobbie Smith).

D.9.1.4.2 Additionally, there may be a suffix on the identity document (such as JR, SR, II, III) that may not be present on the application. Ensure the applicant’s name on the application matches their identification.

D.9.1.5 If date of birth is present on the document provided, it must match the date of birth on the application.

D.9.1.6 If address is present on the document provided, compare to the address on the application. If the address is different, please request the applicant to provide a current address.

D.9.1.7 If gender is present on the document provided, it must match the gender on the application.

D.9.1.8 If an identity document appears to be fraudulent or shows signs of tampering, or if any of the identifying information on the identity document does not satisfactorily match the information on the application as explained in this guidance, do not challenge the individual; complete the application process, copy presented documents and record the individual’s name, address, and contact information to include phone numbers, emails, etc. Provide this information to supervisory, security, investigative, or law enforcement personnel as soon as possible.

D.9.2 List of Acceptable Documents or Combination of Documents:

1. Unexpired U.S. passport (book or card).

2. Unexpired Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC).

3. Unexpired Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Card.

4. Unexpired Global Entry Card.

5. Unexpired U.S. Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Unexpired Enhanced Identification Card (EID).

6. Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), commonly referred to as a “Green Card.”

7. Unexpired foreign passport.

8. Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327).

9. Unexpired driver’s license issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States.

10. Unexpired temporary driver’s license plus expired driver’s license.

11. Unexpired photo ID card issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States. This must include a State or State agency seal or logo (such as a State university ID). Permits are not considered valid identity documents (such as gun permits).

12. Unexpired photo ID card issued by a regional, county, or city/municipal governmental authority, to include but not limited to law enforcement, governmental, education, transportation, or utility authority.

13. Unexpired U.S. military ID card.

14. Unexpired U.S. retired military ID card.

15. Unexpired U.S. military dependent’s card.

16. Native American tribal document with photo.

17. Unexpired Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

18. Unexpired Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

19. U.S. Birth Certificate and an unexpired government-issued ID.

20. U.S. Naturalization Certificate with a raised seal, or Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (Form N-550 or N-570) with a government-issued ID.

21. Certificate of Birth Abroad with raised seal, Department of State Form FS-545, or DS-1350 with government-issued ID.

22. Certificate of U.S. Citizenship with raised seal, or Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS or INS, or Certificate of Repatriation issued by USCIS or INS, together with a government-issued ID.

23. A Federal agency’s written certification of its employee’s U.S. citizenship, if the training is being conducted on behalf of that agency.

APPENDIX E. SAMPLE PREFLIGHT ASSESSMENT AND INSPECTION CHECKLIST

E.1 Sample Preflight Assessment and Inspection Checklist. Remote pilots may choose to use this checklist or develop their own for the operation of their specific small UAS. Preflight Assessment

1. Operating Environment:

a. Local Weather Conditions;

b. Local Airspace, ATC coordination/communication requirements, and any flight restrictions;

c. Identify the location of persons and property on the surface; and

d. Other ground hazards.

2. Crew Briefings:

a. Operating Conditions,

b. Purpose of Flight,

c. Potential Hazards,

d. Emergency Procedures,

e. Contingency Procedures,

f. Crew member Roles and Responsibilities, and

g. Human Factors (I.M.S.A.F.E).

3. Ensure all required documentation is available for inspection.

4. Verify all the manufacturer-required components that make up the small UAS are present and operating as designed.

5. Review Remote Pilot Operating Instructions (if applicable).

6. Complete Certificate of Waiver (CoW) review (if applicable). Review risk assessment and required mitigations.

7. Verify that the control station (CS) location, take-off and landing site(s), including emergency or alternate landing areas are suitable.

8. For operations that will not occur over human beings:

a. Consider whether lateral and vertical off-sets from human beings will be necessary to maintain safety of the operation.

b. Review and adjust the flightpath to ensure it accounts for any movement of human beings.

9. For operations that will occur over human beings:

a. Verify the small unmanned aircraft is eligible to conduct the intended category of operations over human beings.

b. Verify the small unmanned aircraft is clearly labeled for the intended category of operations over human beings.

c. If the small unmanned aircraft has undergone any modification, verify the manufacturer allowed such modifications as described in the remote pilot operating instructions.

d. Verify the small unmanned aircraft is properly configured and mode selected for the category of operations over human beings.

e. Consider whether the operational area can be considered an open-air assembly of persons.

f. For Category 3 operations:

i. Ensure the small unmanned aircraft flightpath of the operation does not go over an open-air assembly of people.

ii. Not within or over a closed- or restricted-access site: May only operate the small unmanned aircraft above any human being if the operation does not maintain sustained flight over any person, unless the person is directly participating in the operation or located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle.

iii. Within or over a closed- or restricted-access site: May only operate the small unmanned aircraft above any human being if the operation is within or over a closed- or restricted-access site and any human being located within the closed- or restricted-access site is on notice that a small unmanned aircraft may fly over them.

10. Evaluate and use mitigations to prevent the remote pilot from becoming distracted or losing VLOS during flight operations.

11. Review small unmanned aircraft performance capabilities, considering density altitude and wind, to ensure positive control of the small unmanned aircraft can be maintained and at a safe distance over people, if applicable. The review should also include maintaining a clear flightpath while operating the small unmanned aircraft.

12. Visual condition inspection of the small UAS components.

13. Airframe structure (including undercarriage), all flight control surfaces, and linkages.

14. Registration markings, for proper display and legibility.

15. Moveable control surface(s), including airframe attachment point(s).

16. Servo motor(s), including attachment point(s).

17. Propulsion system, including powerplant(s), propeller(s), rotor(s), ducted fan(s), etc.

18. Check fuel for correct type and quantity.

19. Check that any equipment, such as a camera, is securely attached.

20. Verify all systems (e.g., aircraft and control unit) have an adequate power supply for the intended operation and are functioning properly.

21. Verify adequate communication between CS and small unmanned aircraft exists; check to ensure the small UAS has acquired GPS location from the minimum number of satellites specified by the manufacturer.

22. Verify correct indications from avionics, including control link transceiver, communication/navigation equipment, and antenna(s).

23. Check the display panel, if used, is functioning properly.

24. Check ground support equipment, including takeoff and landing systems, for proper operation.

25. Check for correct movement of control surfaces using the CS.

26. Check flight termination system, if installed (if applicable).

27. Check the anti-collision light is functioning and can be seen for at least 3 sm (for operations that will occur at civil twilight or night).

28. Calibrate small UAS compass, if required, prior to any flight.

29. Verify controller operation for heading and altitude.

30. Start the small unmanned aircraft propellers to inspect for any imbalance or irregular operation.

31. At a controlled low altitude, fly within range of any interference and recheck all controls and stability.

Post-Flight

1. Evaluate small UAS to determine whether repairs are required prior to subsequent flights.

2. Conduct a review of the flight to include any crew member(s) utilized. This review should consist of items, such as:

• Remote pilot and crew member performance of assigned duties;

• Equipment malfunctions and anomalies;

• Whether the planned risk mitigation measures were effective or require revision;

• Unanticipated risks and hazards encountered during flight operations, and mitigations used; and

• Crew member concerns and feedback to improve the safety of future flight operations.

 

14 CFR Part 11

14 CFR Part 11 – when a waiver to 14 CFR part 107 won’t work, then a Part 11 exemption may!

A petition for exemption is a request to the FAA by an individual or entity for relief from the requirements of a regulation in 14 CFR. The FAA may grant an exemption if it is in public interest and provides an equivalent level of safety. See, 49 U.S.C. § 44701(f) and 14 CFR § 11.81(e). A petition for rulemaking is a request by an individual or entity to the FAA Administrator requesting that the FAA adopt, amend, or repeal a regulation (14 CFR § 11.71). Regulations governing the rulemaking process can be found in Part 11 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR Part 11).

Section 44807: Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Small UAS Rule (14 CFR Part 107) is only applicable to unmanned aircraft (drones) that weigh less than 55 pounds at takeoff. Not only is there a max weight, but there’s also a limitation to what rules can be waived under Part 107. To fly an unmanned aircraft that exceeds the maximum weight limit of Part 107 or your mission includes a non-waiverable rule, you may apply for an exemption in accordance with 14 CFR Part 11 and  the Congressional authority granted in Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems, 49 U.S.C. §44807.

49 U.S.C. § 44807 grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to use a risk-based approach to determine if certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system (NAS) on a case-by-case basis. This grants UAS operators safe and legal entry into the NAS, thus improving safety. We anticipate this activity will result in significant economic benefits. The FAA Administrator has identified this as a high priority project to address demand for civil operation of drones for commercial purposes.

 

2024 – NPRM – Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of a Renewal of an Information Collection: Operational Waivers for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The FAA is seeing increased complexity of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) operation flying under 14 CFR part 107. Under 14 CFR 107.205, operators of small UAS continue to request waivers from certain operational rules. In 2018, the FAA updated and modernized the process for applying for such waivers by introducing the FAADroneZone website. These improvements have facilitated the process of collecting and submitting the information required as part of a waiver application. In 2021, recognizing the demand to expedite the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS), the FAA revised the regulatory framework for safely integrating UAS into routine NAS operations. The was accomplished by publishing the “Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People” rule in January, 2021, which permitted routine operations of small unmanned aircraft over people and at night under certain conditions. This change significantly decreased the waiver requests for such operations by over 55%. The reporting burdens for operational waiver applications are currently covered by Information Collection Request (ICR) 2120–0768. As part of this effort, the FAA is renewing this ICR, for operational waiver applications only. In order to process operational waiver requests, the FAA requires the operator’s name, the operator’s contact information, and information related to the date, place, and time of the requested small UAS operation. Additional information is required related to the proposed waiver and any necessary mitigations. The FAA will use the requested information to determine if the proposed UAS operation can be conducted safely. This information is necessary for the FAA to meet its statutory mandate of maintaining a safe and efficient national airspace. See 49 U.S.C. 40103, 44701 and 44807.

Comments close 3-4-2024

 

BVLOS and Proposed 14 CFR Part 108

In Summer 2023, FAA published a request for comments on UAS Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations and proposed exemptions for BVLOS operations for Phoenix Air Unmanned, uAvionix,UPS Flight Forward, and Zipline. They also published an overarching notice requesting feedback from the community UAS BVLOS operations. The request seeks comments on specific aspects of BVLOS drone operations that the concurrent exemption petitions are looking to permit, including detect and avoid, UTM, and shielded operations.  The data collected from the notices and their operations will inform the FAA’s policy and rulemaking activities. It is FAA’s goal to use these exemptions to signal what the Agency is planning for its final rulemaking on BVLOS.

While the Agency works toward a final BVLOS rulemaking, FAA’s goal is to template exemptions so that approvals will be streamline for operators seeking to conduct similar operations at similar risk levels. The end product will be the safe integration of drones as a transport category into the NAS. BVLOS operations are an essential component of maximizing the value that the aviation industry generates as its economic impact expands beyond today’s operations to more personalized transportation, delivery, and other services.  Making progress on drone operational integration will spur investment into the drone industry, including manufacturing and workforce development in the United States.The FAA’s Request for Comment is a key step forward in enabling BVLOS operations and reducing barriers for successful integration.

 

Part 108 – New Drone Regulations Proposed to the FAA

BVLOS ARC Report Summary – Recommendations and Proposed Regulatory Changes

The Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) started their work on June 24th, 2021, with an objective to propose new drone flight rules to the FAA in order to enable operations outside of a remote pilot’s visual line of sight. Below is summarized their recommendations from the 381 Page report published on March 10th, 2021. The final report includes 70 recommendations as well as a brand new proposed CFR Part 108. For a detailed explanation of each recommendation, please visit the full report. The representatives included a diverse range of individuals and companies including Amazon Prime Air, Wing, Helicopter Associations, and other Aviation Organizations.

The BVLOS ARC’s 70 Recommendations:

Air & Ground Risk Recommendations (AG)

AG 2.1 – The acceptable level of risk (ALR) for UAS should be consistent across all types of operations being performed, and no more restrictive than the accepted fatality rates of general aviation.

AG 2.2 – The rules should be predicated on the risks of operation based on UA capability, size, weight, performance, and characteristics of the operating environment as opposed to the purpose of the operation.

AG 2.3 – BVLOS operations to the greatest extent possible should be allowed to occur through compliance with the regulation alone without the need for a waiver or exemption.

AG 2.4 – The FAA should encourage voluntary reporting in accordance with the UAS Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).

AG 2.5 – The rule should enable the carriage of hazardous materials beyond the specified quantities (per OQ 2.19). Carriage of hazardous materials beyond the specified quantities of OQ 2.19 shall have appropriate mitigations, as established via a performance-based industry consensus standard that is proportionate to the risk of the operation.

AG 2.6 – The rule should allow UAS to conduct transient flights over people. The rule should allow sustained flight over non-participants with strategic and/or technical mitigations applied.

AG 2.7 – The rule should be based on a minimum capability needed to safely perform the operation, not a minimum equipment list.

AG 2.8 – The FAA should develop pathways to support innovation and accommodate emerging technology. The FAA should give consideration to approvals for low-risk Research and Development initiatives.

AG 2.9 – The FAA should incorporate uncrewed aviation into existing surveys or deploy a survey similar to the General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey.

Flight Rules Recommendations (FR)

FR 2.1 – The FAA should amend Part 91.113 (b) to allow a range of sensing methodologies

FR 2.2 – The ARC recommends that UA operations in Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas (i.e., below 400’) yield right of way to crewed aircraft equipped with ADS-B or TABS and broadcasting their position.

FR 2.3 – The ARC recommends that UA operations in Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas (i.e., below 400’) have right of way over crewed aircraft that are not equipped with an ADS-B out as specified in 14 CFR § 91.225 or TABS.

FR 2.4 – The FAA should amend FAR Rule Part 91.113(d) to give UA Right of Way for Shielded Operations

FR 2.5 – Pilots should be educated to associate obstacles and structures along their flight path with uncrewed flight operations to increase situational awareness during both preflight planning and actual operations.

FR 2.6 – The FAA should revise §91.103 to include a new part (c) to accommodate UA operations.

FR 2.7 – The FAA should amend § 91.119 to allow UA operations below the Minimum Safe Altitude restrictions

FR 2.8 – The FAA should amend FAR Rule Part 107.31 to include Extended Visual Line of Sight

FR 2.9 – The FAA should amend FAR Rule Part 107.33 to allow a visual observer to assist and support BVLOS operations

Aircraft & Systems Recommendations (AS)

AS 2.1 – The FAA should establish a new ‘BVLOS’ Rule which includes a process for qualification of uncrewed aircraft and systems. The rule should be applicable to uncrewed aircraft up to 800,000 ft-lb of kinetic energy in accordance with the Operating Environment Relative Risk Matrix.

AS 2.2 – The new BVLOS rule should address Maintenance, Repair, and Modifications of UA.

AS 2.3 – The new BVLOS rule should address software qualification for UA and AE.

AS 2.4 – The new rules should include UA noise certification requirements appropriate to the operating environment. Compliance should be demonstrated through a simple testing methodology.

AS 2.5 – The FAA should establish a new ‘BVLOS’ Rule which includes a process for qualification of the associated elements of an uncrewed aircraft system.

AS 2.6 – The new rule should define who must make a declaration of compliance.

AS 2.7 – Establish a new Special Airworthiness Certification for the UAS category under Part 21.

AS 2.8 – The FAA should establish a Repairperson Certification for the UAS Category to perform inspection, maintenance, and repair of UAS holding SAC under this proposed rule.

AS 2.9 – Recommend exemption from Production Certification requirements IF TC applicants declare compliance to the LSA standard for a quality system.

AS 2.10 – The FAA should consider allowing third-party test organizations to audit compliance.

Operator Qualifications Recommendations (OQ)

OQ 2.1 – The FAA create a new 14 CFR Part that governs UAS BVLOS Pilot and Operator certification requirements and operating rules.

OQ 2.2 – The FAA should adopt the categories defined in the Automation Matrix for BVLOS training and qualification requirements.

OQ 2.3 – The FAA modify 14 CFR Part 107 to enable limited BVLOS operations under the existing Remote Pilot with Small UAS Rating certificate.

OQ 2.4 – The FAA expand the knowledge test for the 14 CFR Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating to cover topics associated with EVLOS and shielded UAS operations

OQ 2.5 – The FAA establish a new BVLOS rating for the Remote Pilot certificate under the new 14 CFR Part.

OQ 2.6 – The FAA’s required UAS pilot knowledge areas and skills for the BVLOS rating should include the knowledge areas required by the FAA for the 14 CFR Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate.

OQ 2.7 – The BVLOS rating process should incorporate additional knowledge and examination areas to support advanced BVLOS and 1-to-many operations.

OQ 2.8 – The FAA should provide both direct and progressive paths to achieving the Remote Pilot Certificate with a BVLOS rating.

OQ 2.9 – Remote Pilots certificated under Part 107 that have completed a BVLOS training program certified by a public aircraft operator entity (as defined in 14 CFR Part 1) should be able to receive their BVLOS rating via online training, similar to the existing Part 107 certification pathway for current Part 61 pilots.

OQ 2.10 – UAS BVLOS guidance and advisory materials should establish a clear and traceable path for operational control and specific training/qualification/currency requirements.

OQ 2.11 – Create two levels of Operating Certificates for commercial UAS operations: a Remote Air Carrier certificate and a Remote Commercial Operating certificate.

OQ 2.12 – Set threshold requirements for certain UAS BVLOS operations beyond which a Remote Air Carrier Certificate or Remote Operating Certificate is required.

OQ 2.13 – Create Operating Requirements that govern Remote Air Carrier and Remote Operating certificate holders.

OQ 2.14 – Create Certification and Operating Requirements that govern Agricultural Remote Aircraft Operations.

OQ 2.15 – For UAS Operating Certificate holders create a designated position authorized under the New Part that exercises operational control and ultimate responsibility for 1-to-many BVLOS flights conducted under their supervision.

OQ 2.16 – The FAA should develop tailored medical qualifications for UAS pilots and other crew positions that consider greater accessibility and redundancy options available to UAS.

OQ 2.17 – Remote Pilots (regardless of rating) are expressly authorized to act as Remote Pilot in Command of an uncrewed aircraft operated for compensation or hire.

OQ 2.18 – The intent of the ARC is that the privileges and limitations of the final BVLOS rule will be available to all aircraft operating under this rule, including public agency operations.

OQ 2.19 – Allow only appropriately vetted UAS operators that are approved by the relevant authority to conduct operations deemed to be a higher security risk.

OQ 2.20 – The FAA should provide an exception to the restrictions and requirements for the carriage of specified quantities of hazardous materials for delivery by holders of a Remote Air Carrier or Remote Operating Certificate.

Third-Party Services Recommendations (TP)

TP 2.1 – The FAA should adopt a regulatory scheme for third-party services to be used in support of UAS BVLOS.

TP 2.2 – The FAA and NASA should conduct a study to determine what level of aircraft operations in a defined volume of the airspace would trigger the need for mandatory participation in federated or third-party services.

Environmental Recommendations

ER 2.1 – As the FAA reviews the BVLOS Rule, the ARC recommends the FAA determined that the BVLOS Rule is unlikely to result in a significant impact on the environment.

ER 2.2 – NEPA review of the BVLOS rule must be timely and programmatic in scope.

ER 2.3 – Environmental reviews should not be required for individual BVLOS operations enabled by the Rule.

ER 2.4 – The FAA should provide an interim pathway to enable BVLOS operations in the near term, pending the finalization of the BVLOS Rule.

ER 2.5 – The FAA interprets NEPA in a way that expedites the BVLOS rulemaking. If the FAA concludes that it is required to implement NEPA in such a way that would substantially delay either the BVLOS rulemaking or BVLOS operations, the ARC recommends asking Congress to consider legislative actions.

NEPA – National Environmental Policy Act

General Recommendations

GP 2.1 – The DOT and the FAA should assess and evaluate societal benefits from UAS BVLOS operations broadly and consider categories and types of benefits that are not easily quantifiable. This includes a holistic and comprehensive analysis of the environmental, equitable, safety, economic, security, and health benefits.

GP 2.2 – Public Perception – The industry must continue to work with all governments, including federal, tribal, state, and local, as well as directly with communities to enhance public understanding of the benefits of UAS BVLOS use.

GP 2.3 – Immediately after promulgating the new BVLOS rule, the FAA should issue an Advisory Circular providing guidance.

GP 2.4 – The FAA should continue the waiver and exemption process while the rulemaking process is progressing, considering the proposed recommendations as a basis for approval when appropriate.

GP 2.5 – International Harmonization – The FAA should work closely with international partners to streamline regulatory processes.

GP 2.6 – Resolve Ambiguity around Intergovernmental Jurisdictional Roles – The FAA should continue an open dialogue with all interested stakeholders on jurisdictional issues. Further, the FAA should explore a clearinghouse for relevant inputs from certified entities, especially local governments, to advance the industry integration.

GP 2.7 – The FAA should publish an order that governs FAA participation in industry standards development organizations.

GP 2.8 – Executive Branch Leadership on UAS Issues – The White House and the Department of Transportation should play a leadership role in UAS BVLOS integration.

GP 2.9 – Counter-UAS Issues – The US government should renew the Preventing Emerging Threats Act.

GP 2.10 – FAA Extension Act – The FAA, together with national security agencies, should implement a process by which trusted operators, including those operating BVLOS, can receive FAA approval to traverse FAA-designated fixed sites.

GP 2.11 – DOT Economic Authority – Congress and the Department of Transportation should review the application of the aviation citizenship laws to the UAS industry to minimize barriers to entry and operational hindrances.

GP 2.12 – Spectrum Related Issues – The FAA should work with the FCC and NTIA to support enabling all available communications technology for the industry in a timely way.

GP 2.13 – Network Remote ID Implementation – The ARC urges the national security agencies and the FAA to engage in an open dialogue with industry and civil society stakeholders to find solutions that enable network remote identification implementation.

GP 2.14 – The FAA establish a cybersecurity working group composed of members of the UAS and aviation industry, communications industry, academics, expert agencies, and other cybersecurity experts.

GP 2.15 – Until the new rule is promulgated, the proposed framework outlined in the Operations Matrix should be leveraged as Guidance Material for applicants and reviewers under the existing FAR Part 107 Waiver Process.

The ARC’s New Proposed Rule – 14 CFR Part 108

Subpart A – General

§ 108.1 Applicability.

§ 108.3 Definitions.

§ 108.5 Falsification, reproduction, or alteration.

§ 108.7 Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.

§ 108.9 Accident reporting.

Subpart B – Operating Rules

§ 108.11 Applicability.

This Subpart applies to UAS BVLOS operations at the following Automated Flight Rules (AFR) Levels:

(a) For UA with 25,000 ft-lbs. or less of kinetic energy, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft, operating at:

1. AFR Level 2 Automation: a pilot to UA ratio greater than 1:5

2. AFR Level 3 Automation: a pilot to UA ratio greater than 1:20

(b) For UA with more than 25,000 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft, operating at:

a pilot to UA ratio greater than 1:5

§ 108.12 Requirement for a remote pilot certificate.

§ 108.13 Registration.

§ 108.15 Condition for safe operation.

(a) No person may conduct a BVLOS UA operation unless the UA is in a condition for safe operation. For a BVLOS UA flight under AFR, the remote pilot in command will take appropriate steps to confirm conditions for safe operation and safe launch and landing areas by consulting relevant information, which may include weather station information, systems, and sensors on-aircraft and other flight support systems. Prior to each flight, the remote pilot in command must check the uncrewed aircraft system, and associated elements, to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation. Such checks may be conducted on-site by direct inspection; remotely via aircraft system monitoring and health ground and flight checks, or a combination of both as approved in the aircraft’s flight manual.

(b) No person may continue a BVLOS UA operation when the person knows or has reason to know that the UAS, or associated elements, are no longer in a condition for safe operation.

§ 108.29 Operation at night.

§ 108.20 Operations in shielded areas.

§ 108.21 In-flight emergency.

§ 108.23 Hazardous operations.

§ 108.27 Alcohol or drugs.

§ 108.35 Operation of multiple uncrewed aircraft.

§ 108.37 Operation near aircraft; low altitude right-of-way rules.

(a) Every uncrewed aircraft operating below 500’ AGL and away from structures, must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles equipped and broadcasting their position via ADS-B out or Traffic Awareness Beacon Systems (TABS). Yielding the right of way means that the small uncrewed aircraft must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless there is adequate separation.

(b) Every crewed aircraft, airborne vehicle, and launch and reentry vehicle operating below 500’ AGL and away from structures, that are not equipped and broadcasting their position via ADS-B out or TABS must yield the right of way to all uncrewed aircraft. Yielding the right of way means that the crewed aircraft or vehicle must give way to the uncrewed aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless there is adequate separation.

c. Every uncrewed aircraft operating below 500’ AGL and within 100 feet of a structure has right of way over all other aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles.

d. No person may operate an aircraft or an uncrewed aircraft in a manner that creates a collision hazard.

§ 108.XX Transient operations over human beings

To conduct transient operations –

1. The UA operations shall be a transient operation (with regard to flight over human beings) or includes a transient flight over human beings. Transient flight over human beings is a transit route flight over people or a person. Transient operations are merely incidental to a point-to-point operation unrelated to the people or a person.

2. RPIC requirements.

a. A remote pilot in command –

i. Must use a UA that is eligible for transient operations pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section;

3. Uncrewed aircraft requirements for transient operations. To be eligible to conduct transient operations over human beings under this section, the UA must –

a. Have the minimum BVLOS capabilities; and

b. Software performs as intended.

4. Maintenance requirements for transient operations. The owner/operator must maintain the aircraft in an airworthy condition and,

a. Uses the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual;

b. Has the knowledge, skill, and appropriate equipment to perform the work; and

c. Performs the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on the uncrewed aircraft in a manner using the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual.

§ 108.XX Sustained operations over human beings

To conduct sustained operations over human beings –

1. The UA shall be a sustained operation (with regard to flight over human beings) or includes sustained flight over human beings. Sustained flight is hovering above people or a person, flying back and forth over people or a person or circling above people in such a way that the unmanned aircraft remains above some portion of the person or persons.

2. RPIC requirements

a. A remote pilot in command –

i. Must use a UA that is eligible for sustained operations pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section;

3. Uncrewed aircraft requirements for sustained operations. To be eligible to conduct sustained operations over human beings under this section, the UA must –

a. Meet the requirements for BVLOS operations per Subpart D

4. System requirements

a. The UAS or associate elements performs as intended.

5. Maintenance requirements sustained operations. The owner/operator must maintain the aircraft in an airworthy condition and,

a. Uses the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the manufacturer’s current maintenance manual;

b. Has the knowledge, skill, and appropriate equipment to perform the work; and

c. Performs the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on the uncrewed aircraft in a manner using the methods, techniques,

Subpart C – Certification: Remote Pilots

§ 108.56 Applicability.

§ 108.57 Offenses involving alcohol or drugs.

§ 108.59 Refusal to submit to an alcohol test or to furnish test results.

§ 108.61 Eligibility.

§ 108.63 Issuance of a remote pilot certificate with a BVLOS rating.

§ 108.64 Temporary certificate.

§ 108.65 Aeronautical knowledge recency.

Subpart D – Qualification: Procedures for Uncrewed Aircraft and Systems for BVLOS

§ 108.xx Applicability.

§ 108.xx Level 1 operations: Eligibility of aircraft and systems for BVLOS

§ 108.xx Level 2A operations: Eligibility of aircraft and systems for BVLOS

§ 108.xx Level 2B operations: Eligibility of aircraft and systems for BVLOS

§ 108.xx Level 3 operations: Eligibility of aircraft and systems for BVLOS

§ 108.xx Means of Compliance § 108.xx Declaration of Compliance

Subpart E – Certification: Remote Air Carriers and Remote Commercial Operators (Part 119 equivalent)

§108.XX Applicability (From § 119.1)

1. This part applies to each person operating or intending to operate civil uncrewed aircraft –

As a remote air carrier or a remote commercial operator, or both, in air commerce.

(b) This part prescribes –

The types of remote air operator certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, including remote air carrier certificates and remote operating certificates;

The certification requirements an operator must meet in order to obtain and hold a certificate authorizing operation under this part and operations specifications for each kind of operation to be conducted under this part;

The requirements an operator must meet to conduct operations under this part and in its operations specifications.

§108.XX Certifications, authorizations, and prohibitions. (From §119.5)

(a) A person authorized by the Administrator to conduct operations as a remote air carrier will be issued a Remote Air Carrier Certificate.

(b) A person who is not authorized to conduct remote air carrier operations, but who is authorized by the Administrator to conduct remote operations as a U.S. commercial operator, will be issued a Remote Operating Certificate.

(c) No person may operate as a remote air carrier or as a remote commercial operator without, or in violation of, an appropriate certificate and appropriate operations specifications. No person may operate as a remote air carrier or as a remote commercial operator in violation of

(d) No person may operate as a direct air carrier without holding appropriate economic authority from the Department of Transportation.

(e) A certificate holder under this part may not operate aircraft under this part in a geographical area unless its operations specifications specifically authorize the certificate holder to operate in that area.

(f) No person may advertise or otherwise offer to perform an operation subject to this part unless that person is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct that operation.

(g) No person may operate an aircraft under this part in violation of a remote air carrier certificate, remote operating certificate, or appropriate operations specifications issued under this part.

§108.XX Operations specifications. (From §119.7)

(a) Each remote certificate holder’s operations specifications must contain –

(1) The authorizations, limitations, and certain procedures under which each kind of operation, if applicable, is to be conducted; and

(2) Certain other procedures under which each class and size of aircraft is to be operated.

(b) Except for operations specifications paragraphs identifying authorized kinds of operations, operations specifications are not a part of a certificate.

§108.XX Safety Management Systems. (From §119.8)

1. A person applying to the Administrator for a remote air carrier certificate or a remote operating certificate to conduct operations under this part must demonstrate, as part of the application process, that it has an SMS that is acceptable to the Administrator.

§108.XX Use of business names. (From §119.9)

(a) A certificate holder under this part may not operate an aircraft under this part using a business name other than a business name appearing in the certificate holder’s operations specifications.

(b) No person may operate an aircraft under this part unless the name of the certificate holder who is operating the aircraft, or the air carrier or operating certificate number of the certificate holder who is operating the aircraft, is legibly displayed on the aircraft and is clearly visible and readable from the outside of the aircraft to a person standing on the ground at any time except during flight time. The means of displaying the name on the aircraft and its readability must be acceptable to the Administrator.

§108.XX Applicability of Operating Requirements to Different Kinds of Operations Under Parts 121, 125, and 135 of This Chapter (From Part 119 Subpart B)

§108.XX Commercial operators engaged in intrastate common carriage and direct air carriers. (From § 119.21)

§108.XX Operators engaged in passenger-carrying operations, cargo operations, or both with airplanes when common carriage is not involved. (From § 119.23)

§108.XX Rotorcraft operations: Direct air carriers and commercial operators. (§ 119.25)

§108.XX General Requirements. (From § 119.33)

(a) A person may not operate as a remote air carrier unless that person –

(2) Obtains a Remote Air Carrier Certificate; and

(3) Obtains operations specifications that prescribe the authorizations, limitations, and procedures under which each kind of operation must be conducted.

(b) A person other than a remote air carrier may not conduct any commercial cargo aircraft operation for compensation or hire under this part unless that person –

(1) Is a citizen of the United States;

(2) Obtains an Operating Certificate; and

(3) Obtains operations specifications that prescribe the authorizations, limitations, and procedures under which each kind of operation must be conducted.

(c) Each applicant for a remote air carrier or remote operating certificate under this part and each applicant for operations specifications authorizing a new kind of operation shall conduct proving tests as authorized by the Administrator during the application process for authority to conduct operations under this part. All proving tests must be conducted in a manner acceptable to the Administrator. All proving tests must be conducted under the appropriate operating and maintenance requirements of this part that would apply if the applicant were fully certificated. The Administrator will issue a letter of authorization to each person stating the various authorities under which the proving tests shall be conducted.

§108.XX Certificate application requirements for all operators. (From § 119.35)

§108.XX Additional certificate application requirements for commercial operators. (From § 119.36)

(a) Each applicant for the original issue of an operating certificate for the purpose of conducting intrastate common carriage operations under this part must submit an application in a form and manner prescribed by the Administrator to the responsible Flight Standards office.

(b) Each application submitted under paragraph (a) of this section must contain a signed statement showing the following:

(1) For corporate applicants:

(i) The name and address of each stockholder who owns 5 percent or more of the total voting stock of the corporation, and if that stockholder is not the sole beneficial owner of the stock, the name and address of each beneficial owner. An individual is considered to own the stock owned, directly or indirectly, by or for his or her spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents.

(ii) The name and address of each director and each officer and each person employed or who will be employed in a management position described in paragraph XX for “Management Personnel”, as applicable.

(iii) The name and address of each person directly or indirectly controlling or controlled by the applicant and each person under direct or indirect control with the applicant.

(2) For non-corporate applicants:

(i) The name and address of each person having a financial interest therein and the nature and extent of that interest.

(ii) The name and address of each person employed or who will be employed in a management position described in paragraph XX for “Management Personnel”, as applicable.

(c) In addition, each applicant for the original issue of an operating certificate under paragraph (a) of this section must submit with the application a signed statement showing –

(1) The nature and scope of its intended operation, including the name and address of each person, if any, with whom the applicant has a contract to provide services as a commercial operator and the scope, nature, date, and duration of each of those contracts.

(d) Each applicant for, or holder of, a certificate issued under paragraph (a) of this section, shall notify the Administrator within 10 days after –

(1) A change in any of the persons, or the names and addresses of any of the persons, submitted to the Administrator under paragraph (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section.

§108.XX Contents of a Remote Air Carrier Certificate or Remote Operating Certificate. (From § 119.37)

The Remote Air Carrier Certificate or Remote Operating Certificate includes –

(a) The certificate holder’s name;

(b) The location of the certificate holder’s principal base of operations;

(c) The certificate number;

(d) The certificate’s effective date; and

(e) The name or the designator of the responsible Flight Standards office.

§108.XX Issuing or denying a certificate. (From § 119.39)

(a) An applicant may be issued a Remote Air Carrier Certificate or Remote Operating Certificate if, after investigation, the Administrator finds that the applicant –

(1) Meets the applicable requirements of this part;

(2) Holds the economic authority applicable to the kinds of operations to be conducted, issued by the Department of Transportation, if required; and

(3) Is properly and adequately equipped in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and is able to conduct a safe operation under appropriate provisions of this part and operations specifications issued under this part.

§108.XX Amending a certificate. (From § 119.41)

§108.XX Certificate holder’s duty to maintain operations specifications. (From § 119.43)

§108.XX Maintaining a principal base of operations, main operations base, and main maintenance base; change of address. (From § 119.47)

§108.XX Contents of operations specifications. (From § 119.49)

§108.XX Amending operations specifications. (From § 119.51)

§108.XX Wet leasing of aircraft and other arrangements for transportation by air. (From § 119.53)

§108.XX Obtaining deviation authority to perform an emergency operation. (From § 119.57)

§108.XX Conducting tests and inspections. (From § 119.59)

§108.XX Duration and surrender of certificate and operations specifications. (From § 119.61)

§108.XX Recency of operation. (From § 119.63)

§108.XX Management personnel required for operations conducted under this part. (From § 119.69)

§108.XX Management personnel: Qualifications for operations conducted under this part. (From § 119.71)

§108.XX (NEW) Flight supervisory personnel that may be designated for operations conducted under this part.

(a) In the case of certain highly automated systems, responsibility for the operation of more than one aircraft simultaneously may be assigned to a designated Remote Flight Operations Supervisor.

When designated by a Remote Air Carrier certificate holder or a Remote Commercial Operations certificate holder, the Remote Flight Operations Supervisor;

• Must be designated before the flight(s) over which they are assigned responsibility;

• Must have an assigned and specific scope of responsibility that may be defined as a geographic area or through the assignment of a set of specific aircraft registration numbers;

• Is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of aircraft for which they have been assigned responsibility;

• Ensures that the small, unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other people, other aircraft, or other property in the event of a loss of control of the small unmanned aircraft for any reason.

• Ensures that the aircraft complies with all applicable regulations of this chapter.

§108.XX (New) Flight supervisory personnel: Qualifications for operations conducted under this part.

§108.XX Employment of former FAA employees. (From § 119.73)

Subpart F – Operating Requirements: Remote Air Carriers and Remote Commercial Operators

§108.XX Risk Class and Type of Operations

Subpart G – Agricultural Remote Aircraft Operations

§108.XX Risk Class and Type of Operations (Taken from Part 137)

Other – 3PSP (Third Party Service Provider)

§108.XX Issuance of a 3PSP Certificate

(1) Applicability

(a) This regulation is applicable to a person who applies for a 3rd Party UAS Service Provider Certificate.

(2) Minimum performance requirements

(a) A 3rd Party UAS Service Provision Certificate will be issued by the FAA to a person who makes a declaration of compliance to an FAA accepted means of compliance.

§108.XX 3PSP Certificate Eligibility

(a) Eligibility. Any 3PSP may apply for a certificate to provide a service identified in an acceptable means of compliance.

(b) Application. The 3PSP will submit an application for a certificate as prescribed by the Administrator.

(c) Declaration of Compliance. The 3PSP will submit a declaration of compliance to the means of compliance as prescribed by the Administrator.

(d) Required Information. All material required by an accepted means of compliance must be prepared and submitted or archived as required by the means of compliance.

Changes to Part 107

§ 107.31 – Expand Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation to Include Extended Visual Line of Sight

(1) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one or more are used), or the person manipulating the flight control of the small uncrewed aircraft system must be able to see the uncrewed aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to:

(a) Know the uncrewed aircraft’s location;

(b) Determine the uncrewed aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;

(c) Monitor the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and

(d) Determine that the uncrewed aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.

(2) Throughout the entire flight of the small uncrewed aircraft, the ability described in paragraph (a) of this section must be exercised by either:

(a) The remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small uncrewed aircraft system; or

(b) A visual observer.

(3) The remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the controls are relieved from the requirement of seeing the uncrewed aircraft throughout the entire flight if they are able to:

(a) Know the uncrewed aircraft’s location;

(b) Determine the uncrewed aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;

(c) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and

(d) Determine that the uncrewed aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.

(4) To be relieved of the requirement to see the uncrewed aircraft per subsection (c), the uncrewed aircraft must not be flown more than three statute miles away from the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), or the person manipulating the controls, and the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), or the person manipulating the controls must:

(a) Receive training on and be permitted to operate an aviation radio; and

(b) Monitor aviation frequencies for nearby air traffic.

§ 107.33 Visual observer.

If a visual observer is used during the aircraft operation, all of the following requirements must be met:

(1) The remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small uncrewed aircraft system, and the visual observer must maintain effective communication with each other at all times.

(2) The remote pilot in command must ensure that the visual observer is able to see the uncrewed aircraft in the manner specified in § 107.31.

(3) The remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small uncrewed aircraft system, and the visual observer must coordinate to do the following:

(a) Scan the airspace where the small uncrewed aircraft is operating for any potential collision hazard; and

(b) Maintain awareness of the position of the small uncrewed aircraft through direct visual observation.

(4) The remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small uncrewed aircraft system, and the visual observer are relieved from subsections (b) and (c) if the flight is conducted in compliance with 107.31(c) and (d).

§ 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

(1) Each small unmanned aircraft must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the small unmanned aircraft must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(2) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.

(3) UA operating within 100 feet of a structure have right of way over all other aircraft.

Changes to Part 91 – Crewed Aircraft Operations

§ 91.103 – Pre-Flight Actions for Remote Pilots in Command (RPIC)

For a BVLOS UA flight under AFR and a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, the remote pilot in command will take appropriate steps to confirm conditions for safe operation and safe launch and landing areas by consulting relevant information, which may include weather station information, systems, and sensors on-aircraft and other flight support systems.

§ 91.113 Right-of-way rules: Except for water operations.

§ 91.113(b)

General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules, visual flight rules, or automated flight rules vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see detect and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless able to maintain adequate separation well clear.

§ 91.113 (d)(4)

Uncrewed Aircraft Conducting BVLOS in Shielded Operations have right of way over all other aircraft.

§ 91.113(h)

Uncrewed Aircraft Conducting BVLOS Operations Below 500 ft AGL.

(1) Uncrewed Aircraft with a maximum kinetic energy of no more than 800,000 ft.-lbs. must yield right of way to all aircraft that are equipped with an ADS-B out as specified in 14 CFR § 91.225 or TABS.

(2) The UA must:

be equipped with an FAA-approved or accepted detect and avoid system that can detect ADS-B or TABS equipped aircraft or can detect all aircraft using another means

Notify other aircraft of their operation through the use of a NOTAM or other means accepted by the FAA.

Be approved in accordance with 14 CFR Part 108.XX.

(3) The UA operator must:

• For operations in controlled airspace, prior authorization from the airspace controlling facility must be obtained

• For operations in uncontrolled airspace, the UA operator must coordinate with the airport operator for operations within 3 nautical miles for public airports

• For operations in uncontrolled airspace, the UA operator must coordinate with the heliport operator for operations within ½ nautical mile of the published heliport.

§ 91.119 – Minimum Safe Altitudes – General

(1) Helicopters, powered parachutes weight-shift-control, and uncrewed aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface –

(2) A UA may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided those operations are done in accordance with 14 CFR 108.XX

Changes to Part 21 – Type Certification

§21.175b – Special Airworthiness Certification for Uncrewed Aircraft

Special airworthiness certificates are primary, restricted, limited, light-sport, uncrewed aircraft systems and provisional airworthiness certificates, special flight permits, and experimental certificates.

Changes to Part 1 – Definitions

§1.1 General Definitions

Pilotage. Navigation by visual reference to landmarks or in the case of UAS by remote or electronic means.

Third-Party Service Provider (3PSP). A person (as defined by 14 CFR 1.1) that is not an applicant, as defined by the FAA and Industry Guide to Product Certification”, offering services and/or Associated Elements as a Third-Party Service to a UAS operator

Uncrewed aircraft system service supplier (USS) is a person qualified by the Administrator to provide aviation-related services to uncrewed aircraft systems.

UTM Services are a set of automated functions and digital services designed to support safe, efficient, and secure access to airspace for UAS. A list of 3PSP UTM services is provided in Table 2 “PART 14 CFR § 91.xxx (or new UAS BVLOS operating rule) – UAS Service Supplier performance requirements.

Declaration of compliance means a record submitted to the FAA by the 3PSP to attest that all the requirements of the applicable regulation have been met.

Network remote identification service is a service that ensures the remote identification of the operator throughout the flight. It shares the registration number of UAS operators as well as further details about their flights (speed, height, course) with authorized users (citizens, authorities, air traffic services).

Service level agreement (SLA) means the agreement between the 3PSP and the UAS operator covering the safety, performance, service area, and security of the 3rd Party UAS Service provision as required for the UAS operator’s intended operations.

Shielded Area is a volume of airspace that includes 100’ above the vertical extent of an obstacle or critical infrastructure and is within 100 feet of the lateral extent of the same obstacle or critical infrastructure as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5195c. A Shielded Operation is a UAS BVLOS operation within a Shielded Area.

Traffic information service informs UAS operators about other air traffic (both crewed and uncrewed) that may be present in proximity to their UAS.

Automated Flight Rules (AFR) for UAS BVLOS operations

AFR Level 1 – A manual system. Direct monitoring and human interface are necessary and intended for the vast majority of the flight. The aircraft may have some automated features (e.g., auto hover, “return to home”), but the human remote pilot has direct control over the aircraft’s flight control surfaces and is actively controlling the aircraft state during all phases of flight.

AFR Level 2 –  Increased automation. Human remote pilots are responsible for the flight of assigned aircraft and are expected to directly monitor and maintain situational awareness for the flight(s) under their control. During AFR Level 2 operations, human intervention is possible but not required for certain aspects of the operation, such as to abort a mission or trigger a non-normal 42 response. The Remote Pilot is directing the aircraft through a software interface and does not directly manipulate flight control surfaces. The pilot may also program or direct routes, altitudes, and contingency procedures through the software interface.

AFR Level 3 – Represents extensive automation, similar to the capabilities of existing on-demand delivery operations. While AFR Level 3 operations may not require human intervention to operate successfully, they may accommodate human supervision and intervention. For the human RFOS or Remote Pilot, such accommodation may include monitoring operations in an area or sector, coordinating and executing exception management functions, and the pausing or halting of operations in response to changing conditions. When AFR Level 3 operations are used to support substantially scaled 1-to-many operations, the ARC expects that such operations will be conducted by the holder of an Air Carrier certificate or a Commercial Operating Certificate.

AFR Level 4 – Represents a state of ultimate automation. AFR Level 4 flight (and in some cases, ground) operations are handled completely by the automation, with no provision for human intervention during both nominal and off-nominal operations. AFR Level 4 operations are assumed to be at very high volumes/scale to the extent that no human pilot could maintain the situational awareness necessary to effectively and safely intervene. The ARC has stipulated AFR Level 4 as a future state and has not assigned attributes to this state.

Future Considerations

In the course of its deliberations, the ARC identified certain issues that should be considered for rulemaking initiatives but were beyond the ARC’s purview. The issues listed below are topics that future ARCs should address. Much of the information was developed by Phase 2 Working Group 2.5 as part of their analysis of Automated Flight Rules to facilitate BVLOS operations.

1. Droneports

Operations near airports in Class G airspace will be necessary and vital as UA operations expand, including within the Mode C veil and under the controlled airspace. The ARC encourages the FAA to examine public airports and published heliport integration for UAS.

2. Air Traffic Control Services for Uncrewed Aircraft

Although out of scope, the ARC considers that as AFR operations expand in the future, the ATC system will need to evolve to accommodate the expected mix of crewed and uncrewed aircraft in the NAS.

3. First Person View

FPV technology has advanced dramatically over the last five years, and FPV is expanding beyond recreational use. The FAA should consider FPV regulations that are suitable for the missions and consistent with this ARC’s recommendations. For example, aircraft type certification should not be required where the pilot is manually controlling the FPV UAS. However, type-certified aircraft, pilot certification, and some type of practical testing could be considered as the mission complexity and risks increase. A robust regulatory regime will help to accelerate innovation, improve safety, and optimize productivity.

4. Operations – Non-Compliance

Volume 14 of FAA Order 8900.1 covers the Flight Standards Compliance and Enforcement policies and procedures. The ARC did not identify any reasons to change the language, policies, and procedures currently being used for traditional aviation. If a UA or GA operator does something that poses a safety risk, they should be held responsible for any consequences of that action. However, the ARC encourages the FAA and the states to consider requirements for aviation liability insurance.

5. Urban Air Mobility (UAM)

UAM is beyond the scope of the ARC, but the ARC recognizes the significant attention that UAM is receiving from FAA and Congress, and recognizes that UAS and UAM could present some complementary regulatory policy issues.

New Third Party Service Provider (3PSP) Types

Remote ID USS – Remote ID USS means a USS qualified by the Administrator to provide remote identification services.

Strategic Deconfliction USS – Strategic Deconfliction USS means a USS qualified by the Administrator to provide Strategic Deconfliction services.

Constraint USS – Constraint USS means a USS qualified by the Administrator to provide Constraint services.

Conformance Monitoring USS – Conformance Monitoring USS means a USS qualified by the Administrator to provide Conformance Monitoring services

Operational Planning and Authorization USS – Operational Planning and Authorization USS mean a USS qualified by the Administrator to provide Operational Planning and Authorization services.

C2 Communication Service Provider (CSCSP) – C2 Link. The data link between the uncrewed aircraft and the control station for the purposes of managing the flight. C2 Link communication service provider (C2CSP). An entity that provides a portion of, or all, the C2 Link service for the operation of a UAS.

Detect and Avoid Service Provider (DAASP) – Detect and Avoid (DAA) – A service providing the situational awareness, alerting, and avoidance necessary to maintain safe BVLOS operation of the ownship in the presence of intruders. DAA Service Provider (DAASP). An entity that provides a portion of, or all, the DAA service for the operation of a UAS. A UAS operator may also be its own DAASP

 

 

Workforce Development

According to McKinsey & Company, the world of work is changing. Artificial intelligence and automation will make this shift as significant as the mechanization in prior generations of agriculture and manufacturing. While some jobs will be lost, and many others created, almost all will change. The COVID-19 crisis accelerated existing trends and caused organizations to reevaluate many aspects of work. This regularly updated collection of articles draws together our latest perspectives on the future of work, workforce, and workplace.

 

Recreational Drone Rules

The rule for operating UAS under 55 pounds in the NAS is 14 CFR 107. However, if you want to fly your UAS for purely recreational purposes, there is a limited statutory exception (“carve out”) that provides a basic set of requirements.

A recreational flight is one that is not operated for a business or any form of compensation. However, financial compensation, or the lack of it, is not what determines if the flight is recreational or commercial. Non-recreational purposes include things like taking photos to help sell a property or service, roof inspections, or taking pictures of a high school football game for the school’s website. Goodwill or other non-monetary value can also be considered indirect compensation. This would include things like volunteering to use your UAS to survey coastlines on behalf of a non-profit organization. Recreational flight is simply flying for fun or personal enjoyment.

The Exception for Limited Operation of Unmanned Aircraft (49 USC 44809) or “carve out” is the law that describes how, when, and where you can fly UAS for recreational purposes. Following these rules will keep people, your drone, and the NAS safe:

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Read AC 91-57C.
  3. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight or use a VO who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with manned aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below 400 feet in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and surface E designated for an airport) only with prior authorization by using LAANC or FAADroneZone.
  6. Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Have a current registration, mark your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you. Beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone requires an FAA registration number it will be also required to broadcast Remote ID information.
  9. Do not operate your drone in a dangerous manner.
  10. Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
  11. Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Individuals violating any of these rules, and/or operating in a dangerous manner, may be subject to FAA enforcement action.

Starting on February 20, 2023, Recreational Flyers may request an airspace authorization to operate in controlled airspace at night through LAANC.

As a recreational flyer you can fly in controlled airspace if you have an airspace authorization from the FAA prior to flight through LAANC  or the FAA’s Drone Zone. In LAANC enabled areas authorizations are provided to drone pilots through companies approved by the FAA. These companies are known as FAA-Approved UAS Service Suppliers (FAA LAANC USSs). The companies have built desktop and mobile applications through which drone pilots submit their authorization request and receive other safety critical information related to their flight. The companies provide near-real time airspace authorizations at pre-approved altitudes on the UAS Facility Maps. Choose the company that works best for you – they all provide information about the maximum altitude you can fly in a specific location and whether or not your flight is in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.

Follow these steps to get approval to fly through LAANC:

Register your drone

– Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST).

– Apply on the date you wish to fly (requests may be submitted up to 90 days in advance of your planned flight).

– Select the exact time, altitude and location where you wish to fly. Make sure you select to fly at or below the altitude defined by the UAS Facility Maps (this will show up automatically in your LAANC provide app).

FAA Drone Zone provides authorizations for airports that are not LAANC-enabled, however it does not provide authorizations in near-real time. All requests are processed manually at the FAA Air Traffic Service Centers. Only apply for authorization at or below approved altitudes on the UAS Facility Maps.

Airspace Authorization through FAA Drone Zone:

– Log into the FAA Drone Zone under The Exception for Recreational Flyers.

– Select “Airspace Authorization”.

– Fill in the required fields – Review and submit your information to the FAA.

– Upon submission you will receive a reference number for your application.

– You may check you application status anytime by logging back into the FAA DroneZone.

– If you have questions while filling out the request, contact the UAS Support Center.

On August 7, 2023, the FAA released Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Continued Approval of Information Collection: Limited Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Operation Applications

Comments closed 10-6-2023

 

AC 91-57

AC 91.57C provides guidance to

(1) persons operating UA under the exception for limited recreational operations of UA established in Section 349 of PL 115-254, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, codified at 49 USC § 44809;

(2) persons using UAS for educational or research purposes pursuant to Section 350 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018;

(3) persons requesting recognition as community-based organizations (CBO);

(4) persons seeking to establish fixed recreational flying sites; and

(5) CBOs conducting sanctioned events. 

CHAPTER 1. GENERAL
1.1 Purpose of this AC. The guidance provided in this AC supports the limited recreational operation of UA by explaining how a recreational flyer of UA may comply with the statutory requirements of 49 USC. This AC provides guidance for operating UA under the exception, including operations for certain educational and research purposes; FAA recognition of CBOs; and application for fixed sites and CBO-sanctioned UA flying events. UA (sometimes referred to as “drones”) are aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. Refer to 49 USC § 44801.
1.1.1 Effects of Guidance. The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way, and the document is intended only to provide information to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

1.2 Audience. This AC provides information to:

1. Persons operating UA under the exception for limited recreational operations of UA established in Section 349 of PL 115-254, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, codified at 49 USC § 44809.
2. Persons operating UA for educational or research purposes pursuant to Section 350 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, as amended by Section 10002 of PL 116-283, William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
3. Persons requesting FAA recognition as a CBO.
4. Persons seeking the establishment of fixed recreational flying sites.
5. Persons organizing UA-only CBO-sponsored events.

1.3 Where You Can Find This AC. You can find this AC on the FAA’s website and the Dynamic Regulatory System (DRS).
1.4 What This AC Cancels. AC 91-57B, Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, dated May 31, 2019, is canceled.

1.5 Related References (current editions).

1. 49 USC VII, Aviation Programs, § 40101 et seq.

2. 49 USC § 44809, Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft.

3. PL 115-254, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

4. PL 116-283, William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

5. 14 CFR Part 45, Identification and Registration Marking.

6. 14 CFR Part 47, Aircraft Registration.

7. 14 CFR Part 48, Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft.

8. 14 CFR Part 89, Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft.

9. 14 CFR Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

10. AC 107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS).

11. FAADroneZone

12. UAS Data Delivery System

13. Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) Listing

14. Aeronautical Navigation Products (Charts)

15. Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM)

16. National Aviation Events Program

17. UA Registration Guidance

1.6 Background. On October 5, 2018, the President signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law. Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, codified at 49 USC § 44809, repealed the special rule for model aircraft in Section 336 of P.L. 112-95, FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. 49 USC § 44809 allows a person to fly a UA without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA, so long as the operation meets certain limitations enumerated in the statute. Further, 49 USC § 44809(i) requires the FAA to publish an AC that identifies the limitations and process required for recognition of a CBO, as set forth in 49 USC § 44809(h).

1.7 Limited Recreational UA Operations.

1.7.1 Recreational flyers must ensure the operation of their UA complies with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

1.7.2 The guidance provided in this AC explains how a recreational flyer can comply with the requirements of 49 USC § 44809 in order to operate a UA without FAA certification or operating authority. If the operation of a UA fails to meet all the operational limitations contained in 49 USC § 44809(a), such operation must be operated in accordance with the applicable FAA operating rules, and comply with the relevant FAA airman and aircraft certification requirements (e.g., 14 CFR part 21, 61, 91, or 107).
1.7.3 The Administrator may pursue an enforcement action against any person operating a UA under 49 USC § 44809 who endangers the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS). Refer to 49 USC § 44809(e). Such operations include, but are not limited to, careless or reckless operations, or operations endangering persons or property.
1.7.4 Recreational operators must comply with part 89. Refer to 49 USC § 44809(f)(3). The FAA notes that FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA) established under part 89 and “fixed sites” for purposes of recreational flying under 49 USC § 44809(c) are two different kinds of UA operating areas with different purposes, requirements, and application processes. A fixed site is a location with a standing airspace authorization for recreational flying, while a FRIA is a location where UA may operate without remote identification. In some places where an airspace authorization is required for recreational flying, such as in controlled airspace and where a CBO has also obtained approval for a FRIA, a FRIA and fixed site may overlap. If a CBO has obtained authorization for a fixed site but has not obtained approval for a FRIA, remote identification requirements will still apply.
CHAPTER 2. RECREATIONAL FLYER STATUTORY LIMITATIONS
2.1  Recreational Flyer. For the purposes of this AC, a recreational flyer is a person who operates a UA strictly for recreational purposes in accordance with 49 USC § 44809. This is an operation-specific determination. Recreational operations that do not comply with the statutory parameters are not eligible for the recreational flyer exception of 49 USC § 44809.
2.2  Statutory Limitations. Recreational flyers operating small UA must adhere to all of the statutory limitations included in 49 USC § 44809(a) in order to operate under the statutory exception to operate a UA without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA. Pursuant to 49 USC § 44809(c)(2)(A) and (B), UA weighing more than 55 pounds must be operated under FAA-approved safety guidelines of a recognized CBO and operated solely at a fixed site. The statutory limitations for small UA operated under 49 USC § 44809 include the following:

2.2.1 Section 44809(a)(1). “The aircraft is flown strictly for recreational purposes.”

2.2.1.1  Recreational purposes may not include activities such as flights for any compensation, monetary or otherwise, and flights related to or in furtherance of a business. A person may not combine recreational and commercial purposes in a single flight.

Note: This AC references various types of operations or events that may typically be considered recreational; however, whether or not an operation is considered recreational is situation-specific. Each individual pilot must maintain responsibility for compliance with the 49 USC § 44809(a)(1) requirement for recreational purpose, regardless of whether the event is sanctioned by a CBO or otherwise presented as generally compliant with 49 USC § 44809(a)(1).

2.2.1.2  A “recreational purpose” includes, but is not limited to:

2.2.1.2.1 UAS operated by an institution of higher education, as defined in 20 U.S.C. § 1001(a) for educational or research purposes;

Note: The term “educational or research purposes,” with respect to the operation of a UAS by an institution of higher education, includes:

1. Instruction of students at the institution;

2. Academic or research-related uses of UAS that have been approved by the institution, including Federal research;

3. Activities undertaken by the institution as part of research projects, including research projects sponsored by the Federal Government; and

4. Other academic activities approved by the institution.

2.2.1.2.2 UAS flown as part of an established Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program for educational or research purposes; or

2.2.1.2.3 UAS flown as part of an educational program that is chartered by a recognized CBO, as defined in 49 USC § 44809(h).

Note: Any elementary and secondary educational institutions, that are not institutions of higher education or do not fly UAS as part of a JROTC program, would either have to receive FAA recognition as a CBO or be chartered by a recognized CBO to operate under 49 USC § 44809; otherwise, such institutions must conduct all operations under part 107.

2.2.2 49 USC § 44809(a)(2). “The aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.”

2.2.2.1 Recreational flyers should be able to explain to an FAA inspector or law enforcement officer which CBO’s safety guidelines they are operating under during any given flight. However, an operator does not need to be a member of a CBO to fly under its safety guidelines. The FAA maintains a website of officially recognized CBOs.

2.2.3 49 USC § 44809(a)(3). “The aircraft is flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or a visual observer co-located and in direct communication with the operator.”

2.2.3.1 In order to be operating within VLOS, either the operator or a VO must be able to see the UA (with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses) throughout the entire flight to ensure it does not present a collision hazard to other manned aircraft or persons or property on the ground. The use of a VO is optional, but a VO enables the recreational flyer to look away from the UA for extended periods. The use of a VO is necessary if the recreational flyer wants to use first person view (FPV) devices, which allow a view from an onboard camera but limit the operator’s ability to scan the surrounding airspace.

Note: For a VO to be considered co-located with the recreational flyer, the VO should be close enough to the recreational flyer to be able to communicate directly with him or her without the use of technological assistance and without creating a distraction to the recreational flyer.

2.2.4 49 USC § 44809(a)(4). “The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.”

2.2.4.1 The recreational flyer is responsible for knowing, at all times, the position of the aircraft in relation to other aircraft; for maintaining a safe distance from other aircraft; and for giving the right-of-way to all manned aircraft.

2.2.5 49 USC § 44809(a)(5). “In Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the operator obtains prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.”
2.2.5.1 The NAS includes both controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Recreational flyers must obtain specific airspace authorization from the FAA prior to operating UA in Class B, C, or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport (controlled airspace). Recreational flyers do not need to obtain authorization prior to operating in Class G (uncontrolled airspace) below 400 feet AGL.

2.2.5.2 Recreational flyers may use the FAA’s LAANC to check for airspace restrictions and obtain authorization to fly in controlled airspace. LAANC provides automated, near real-time authorization for airspace authorization requests in most controlled airspace. See subparagraph 2.2.5.3 below for instances in which LAANC does not provide authorization. Recreational flyers can access LAANC through FAA-approved third-party UAS Service Suppliers (USS). A list of companies approved to offer LAANC services, as well as additional information on LAANC is available on the FAA website. Recreational flyers may submit authorization requests up to 90 days prior to intended flight.

Note: Recreational flyers should not contact air traffic control (ATC) facilities to obtain airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace.

2.2.5.3  If a recreational flyer wants to fly near an airport in Class B, C, or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport that are not serviced by LAANC, the recreational flyer should use the FAADroneZone website to request an airspace authorization. The recreational flyer should submit the request at least 90 days prior to the proposed flight to allow the FAA time to review the airspace and the information provided for the flight.
2.2.5.4  The FAA recommends that recreational flyers refer to the FAA’s interactive map on the UAS Data Delivery System to access information and graphical depictions regarding any UAS-specific flight restrictions. On the map, semi-transparent polygons depict airspace information. UAS flight restrictions are shown as red polygons. Recreational flyers are also responsible for complying with all special use airspace designations, including prohibited areas and restricted areas, as well as other special flight rules and TFRs, and Aeronautical Navigation Products (Charts).
2.2.5.5 The B4UFLY app is a useful resource for recreational flyers to use prior to operating their UA (whether in controlled or uncontrolled airspace). It provides critical airspace information to the user including the locations of airports, national parks, stadiums, special use airspace (including restricted and prohibited airspace), TFRs, other special flight rules, and more. 

2.2.6 49 USC § 44809(a)(6). “In Class G airspace, the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.”

2.2.6.1 “Ground level” begins at the Earth’s surface and does not include man-made structures, trees, or any obstacle. For example, a UA engaged in recreational operations under 49 USC § 44809(a) may not be launched from a 10-story rooftop and fly up an additional 400 feet.

2.2.7 49 USC § 44809(a)(7). “The operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test … and maintains proof of test passage to be made available to the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.”

2.2.7.1 A list of FAA-approved test administrators for The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST)

2.2.7.2 The proof of test passage may be in any format (e.g., paper or electronic) so long as it is readily accessible, legible, and can be presented to the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.

2.2.8 49 USC § 44809(a)(8). “The aircraft is registered and marked in accordance with chapter 441…and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a designee of the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.”

2.2.8.1 Recreational flyers must register UA weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) at takeoff including those used in limited recreational operations. Owners of such UA may register electronically in accordance with part 48 through the FAADroneZone website or through the part 47 paper-based process.

2.2.8.2 The owner of a small UA weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) that will be flown exclusively in limited recreational operations may obtain a single registration number for multiple UA by registering under 14 CFR Part 48. However, any small UA operated under part 107, regardless of weight must have a unique registration number. Owners of UA more than 55 pounds must register each aircraft individually under 14 CFR Part 47.
2.2.8.3 Owners of UA operated in limited recreational operations must mark all such UA with the registration number for the aircraft in accordance with the applicable requirements of 14 CFR Part 45 and 14 CFR Part 47. For small UA registered under 14 CFR Part 48, Part 48.205 requires that the marking be maintained in a condition that is legible, affixed in a manner that ensures it will remain affixed for the duration of each flight, and legibly displayed on an external surface of the UA.
CHAPTER 3. FAA-RECOGNIZED COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

3.1 Community-Based Organizations (CBO).

3.1.1 A CBO is defined in 49 USC § 44809(h) as a membership-based association entity that:

“(1) is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

(2)  is exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

(3)  the mission of which is demonstrably the furtherance of model aviation;

(4)  provides a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for all aspects of model aviation addressing the assembly and operation of model aircraft and that emphasize safe aeromodelling operations within the national airspace system and the protection and safety of individuals and property on the ground, and may provide a comprehensive set of safety rules and programming for the operation of unmanned aircraft that have the advanced flight capabilities enabling active, sustained, and controlled navigation of the aircraft beyond visual line of sight of the operator;

(5)  provides programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs; and

(6)  provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.”

3.2 Applying for CBO Recognition. An organization requesting CBO recognition by the FAA must provide all information necessary to demonstrate compliance with the statutory requirements of 49 USC § 44809(h). Paragraph 3.1.1 lists those statutory requirements. Paragraph 3.3 provides further guidance on the development of safety guidelines for CBO recognition. When submitting a CBO recognition application, the applicant should provide a point of contact for the CBO whom the FAA may contact to request additional information. The FAA estimates that it may take up to 90 days to process requests for recognition. All documentation and information should be submitted via the FAADroneZone website.
3.2.1 The FAA will recognize an applicant that submits information demonstrating compliance with 49 USC § 44809(h) as a CBO. If the FAA recognizes the CBO, the FAA will issue a letter of recognition to the CBO evidencing the organization’s status as a recognized CBO. The FAA will maintain a list of recognized CBOs. If any information that served as the basis for the underlying recognition changes subsequent to recognition, including its safety guidelines, the recognition may no longer be valid. The FAA recommends that a recognized CBO coordinate with the FAA prior to making any such changes to ensure continued recognition. The FAA also emphasizes that under 49 USC § 44809(a)(2), a CBO’s safety guidelines are to be “developed in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.” Therefore, if a recognized CBO changes its safety guidelines without coordination with the FAA or no longer meets the requirements of 49 USC § 44809(h), the FAA will notify the CBO of the deficiency. If the CBO is unable to meet the requirements of 49 USC § 44809(a)(2) or 49 USC § 44809(h) after such notification, the FAA will issue a letter of rescission and remove the CBO’s name from the website.
3.2.2 Any organization, including institutions of higher education, elementary and secondary educational institutions, and JROTC programs, may request recognition as a CBO. However, they must meet all of the requirements for CBO recognition, including demonstrating recreational purpose. Educational programs in the elementary and secondary schools are not considered a recreational purpose under 49 USC § 44809 unless associated with a CBO, though such programs are considered recreational when conducted by institutes of higher education.

3.3 Safety Guidelines.

3.3.1 An organization seeking recognition as a CBO is required under 49 USC § 44809(h)(4) to provide a set of safety guidelines for all aspects of model aviation. The safety guidelines should address the assembly and operation of model aircraft, as well as emphasize safe aeromodelling operations within the NAS and the protection and the safety of individuals and property on the ground. CBOs should prepare and keep current safety guidelines setting forth the organization’s procedures and policies for safe recreational operations of UA. The guidelines should be readily available to FAA personnel upon request.

3.3.2 The limitations identified in 49 USC § 44809(a) should serve as the baseline for developing safety guidelines. A CBO’s guidelines should be consistent with the requirements addressed in 49 USC § 44809(a). A comprehensive set of safety guidelines may include topics that span beyond the requirements of 49 USC § 44809(a). Although the guidelines must be comprehensive, they need not discuss operations that are irrelevant to the CBO. For example, if a CBO is not engaged in a particular type of operation (e.g., FPV or turbine-powered flight), they would not be expected to develop safety guidelines related to that type of operation. An individual operating under a CBO’s safety guidelines may only operate the types of operations addressed in those safety guidelines.

3.3.2.1 General Safety Measures and Practices.

3.3.2.1.1 Recommended Safety Guidelines. The FAA recommends that comprehensive safety guidelines should include at least the following:

1. Adequate protections and mitigations to prevent the UA from causing harm to any person. CBOs should consider addressing how they will mitigate hazards to avoid creating a risk to people. CBOs are encouraged to include the following safe practices in their safety guidelines: restrictions on operations over people, establishing buffer areas between an aircraft’s planned flightpath and any people in the area, and limitations on ground access to areas for certain activities such as racing.

2. Prohibition on modifying UA and the carriage of hazardous materials or weapons. The FAA recommends that CBOs consider including a restriction on customizing or modifying the aircraft in such a way that creates a hazard to the public or the NAS in their safety guidelines. CBOs are strongly encouraged to include a statement reminding operators that they must comply with applicable regulations for the carriage of hazardous materials. Refer to applicable provisions of the Hazardous Materials Regulations, 49 CFR parts 171 through 180. The FAA also recommends that CBOs remind operators that Federal law prohibits operating a UA that is equipped or armed with a dangerous weapon unless authorized by the Administrator. Refer to Section 363 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

3. Prohibition on engaging in careless or reckless behavior. CBOs are encouraged to include information in their guidelines on avoiding careless or reckless behavior. The FAA recommends including information on the five hazardous attitudes in aeronautical decision making (refer to the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Figure 2-4) and the “Dirty Dozen” human behaviors in aircraft maintenance.

4. Airspace restrictions and prohibitions. The FAA recommends that safety guidelines provide information to recreational flyers on how to become aware of all restricted and prohibited airspace. The guidelines should also emphasize that Federal law requires each member to comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions applicable to the airspace in which the operation will occur. Refer to 49 USC § 44809(a)(5) and (6).

5. Preflight safety. To mitigate hazards, the FAA encourages CBOs to include in their guidelines, as appropriate, information concerning preflight assessments, flight planning, hazard identification techniques, and scanning techniques for aircraft and other people entering an area of operation. AC 107-2, Appendix E, Sample Preflight Assessment and Inspection Checklist, provides a detailed example of a preflight checklist that CBOs may consider adapting for their particular needs. CBOs may also choose to develop a through-flight or turnaround checklist for preflight inspections between successive flights that are flown back-to-back. Such a preflight checklist could cover those items that should be checked before flight, such as confirmation of general condition or that control surfaces are functioning.

6. In-flight safety. The FAA recommends that guidelines for in-flight safety remind recreational flyers to assess the performance of the UA continually; monitor the strength of command and control links; watch for changing weather conditions; and watch for unexpected people or aircraft in the area of operation. Additionally, the FAA recommends that guidelines instruct recreational flyers to be familiar with the automated features a UA may have, and how the UA would behave when those features are activated. For instance, it is important that operators know that a return-to-home protocol on a UA could initiate a straight-line path toward the person operating it that could cross over people or possibly strike an obstacle such as a tree or power lines.

7. Post-flight safety. Guidelines for post-flight inspection may include encouraging recreational flyers to review the flight and consider whether any unplanned events occurred that presented a risk. Guidelines may also include recommendations for safely securing UA between flights to include removing batteries and protecting fragile parts from wear and tear per the manufacturer’s recommendations (if applicable).

3.3.2.2 Regulatory and Statutory Compliance.

3.3.2.2.1 Recommended Safety Statement. The FAA encourages CBOs to include in their guidelines a safety statement that reminds recreational operators that they must comply with applicable FAA regulations and other Federal laws, in addition to the CBO’s safety guidelines.

3.3.2.3 First Person View (FPV).

3.3.2.3.1 Recommended Safety Guidelines. If a CBO supports FPV flying in recreational operations, the CBO should include in its comprehensive safety guidelines, a list of guidelines for operating UA under FPV. The following suggested guidelines are provided as examples to assist CBOs and can be tailored to fit a CBO’s particular needs.

1. Guidelines that FPV flyers be proficient in operating their UA without FPV equipment prior to starting FPV flights.

2. Guidelines for preflight inspections of the FPV device’s video, control, power source, and mechanical systems before each flight.

3. Guidelines for VOs during FPV operations to watch the UA, and the surrounding airspace at all times to ensure safe operations. Guidelines for the responsibilities of VOs may include guidance, such as informing the observer how to maintain VLOS with the aircraft at all times, scan the surrounding airspace for hazards, and be able to see the aircraft with unaided vision, except in the case of vision that is corrected by the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Vision aids, such as binoculars, may be used only momentarily to enhance situational awareness.

4. Guidelines about co-location of VOs with the FPV flyer, such as requiring VOs to be in direct communication with the FPV flyer without the use of technological assistance and without creating a distraction to the recreational flyer.

5. Guidelines for the ability of the FPV flyer to see the aircraft throughout the entire flight.

6. Guidelines for communications, such as requiring that the FPV flyer and VOs have preplanned communications and procedures to ensure the UA remains under control and within VLOS during any event when the safe operation of the aircraft is in question.

7. If the CBO wishes to address FPV operations for UA more than 55 pounds in its safety guidelines, the FAA recommends the CBO develop guidelines specific to such operation.

3.3.2.4 Small UA Maintenance, Inspections, and Minimum Conditions for Safe Operation.

3.3.2.4.1 Recommended Safety Guidelines. A comprehensive set of safety guidelines should include guidance for UA maintenance, inspections, and minimum conditions for safe operations to ensure recreational flyers are taking proper care of their UA between flights. The following are suggestions for guidance that a CBO may provide in its safety guidelines.

1. Guidance that a UA and its associated elements should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. For homebuilt UA or those without manufacturer instructions, safety guidelines should provide general maintenance guidance. Refer to AC 107-2, Paragraphs 7.2.1.1 and 7.3.5, Benefits of Recordkeeping, for further recommendations.

2. Guidance regarding frequency of checking for software updates and updating UA software prior to flight.

3. Guidelines for checking flight-critical systems (e.g., rotors, battery, controls) for damage prior to flight and guidance to repair or replace those discrepancies if any damage is found.

4. Guidance to test control links prior to flight and to not attempt flight if command and control signal strength is, or is anticipated to be, inadequate for the duration of the flight.

5. Guidelines for moving parts, such as servos and rotors to move freely or respond to controls as expected.

6. Guidance for all systems to have adequate energy supply to complete the planned flight safely.

7. Guidelines that guidance systems and instruments (e.g., Global Positioning System (GPS), compass, altimeter) must be accurate and performing as expected.

8. Guidance that automated features (e.g., return to home, autoland) are functioning correctly and as expected.

9. Guidelines for carrying external loads, such as how external loads should be attached to the aircraft, the recommended weight limit of external loads, and that such loads do not negatively affect the balance or control of the aircraft.

10. Guidelines for flying site suitability, such as checking the expected flight path for other people, aircraft, and obstacles.

Note: When addressing maintenance and inspections in comprehensive safety guidelines, CBOs may build on the recommendations of the manufacturer. A sample inspection chart can be found in AC 107-2, Appendix C, Small UAS Maintenance and Inspection Best Practices.

3.3.2.5 Night Flight. Under 49 USC § 44809(a)(3), recreational flyers or VOs must maintain VLOS throughout the flight, including when operating at night. For UA operations at night, the FAA strongly recommends CBOs develop comprehensive safety guidelines that include equipping UA with anti-collision lights that can be seen from 3 statute miles away and to arrange lights on the UA in such a way that allows recreational flyers to determine the orientation and flight path of the aircraft. Alternatively, the safety guidelines can also permit recreational flyers to conduct operations at night without requiring UA lighting in areas that are sufficiently illuminated so that recreational flyers can maintain VLOS of the aircraft throughout the flight and identify any potential ground or airborne hazards. Lastly, night flight presents visual perception challenges to aircraft operators. CBOs are highly encouraged to include guidelines to make recreational flyers aware of these physiological challenges for night operations. For an explanation of the physiological challenges of night operations, CBOs may reference FAA-H-8083-3C, Airplane Flying Handbook, Chapter 11, Night Operations.

3.3.2.6. Determining a Recreational Flyer’s Medical Condition.

3.3.2.6.1 Recommended Safety Guidelines. Comprehensive safety guidelines should include certain criteria that recreational flyers should consider in ascertaining whether they are fit for flight prior to conducting any limited recreational aircraft operation. For example, in their guidelines, CBOs can address operating a UA, serving as a VO, or participating in the operation of a UA if the person knows, or has reason to know, that they have a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the UA.

3.3.2.6.2 Alcohol or Drug Use. The FAA highly recommends that comprehensive safety guidelines address how the use of alcohol or drugs would interfere with the recreational flyer’s ability to operate the UA safely.

3.3.2.6.3 IMSAFE. The FAA also recommends the inclusion of the IMSAFE checklist for recreational flyers in CBO guidelines:

  • Illness—Is the recreational flyer suffering from any illness or symptoms that might affect the safe operation of the UAS?
  • Medication—Is the recreational flyer taking any drugs (prescription or other) that might affect the safe operation of the UAS?
  • Stress—Is the recreational flyer experiencing any psychological or emotional factors which might adversely affect his or her performance?
  • Alcohol—Has the recreational flyer been drinking within the last 8 hours? Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, full metabolization can take up to 24 hours. Recreational flyers should be aware that as little as one ounce of liquor, one bottle of beer, or four ounces of wine can impair flying skills.
  • Fatigue—Has the recreational flyer received sufficient sleep and adequate rest in the recent past?
  • Emotion—Is the recreational flyer emotionally upset?

3.3.2.7 Emergency Procedures.

3.3.2.7.1 Recommended Safety Guidelines. An emergency is the actual or impending loss of control of a UA or violation of an operational limitation. The FAA recommends that comprehensive safety guidelines address potential in-flight emergencies involving recreational flying, such as:

  1. Sustained loss, weak or intermittent radio signals, control signals experiencing interference, or a UA not responding predictably to control inputs.
  2. Loss of power or propulsion.
  3. Loss of navigation (GPS) or loss of sight of the UA.
  4. Flight instruments losing performance or displaying incorrect information.
  5. Unanticipated people or aircraft entering the area of operation.
  6. Parts or attachments on the UA becoming loose or breaking off.
  7. Electrical arcing, or battery or component fires.
  8. Unexpected weather (e.g., high winds, sudden storms, fog).
3.3.2.7.2 Responsibility for Safety. The FAA recommends that the comprehensive safety guidelines emphasize that the recreational flyer is responsible for the safety of the flight during emergencies. While CBOs may encourage use and familiarization with common automated recovery features (e.g., return to home, autoland), such features may not be sufficient to address an emergency. While conducting a hazard identification assessment or risk assessment is not necessary for developing acceptable safety guidelines, some CBOs may find it helpful to consult the recommended methods for assessing potential hazards and planning appropriate emergency procedures found in AC 107-2, Appendix A, Risk Assessment Tools.
3.3.2.8 Safety Incident Reporting Program. To support and promote a safety culture among all CBOs and recreational flyers, the FAA recommends that comprehensive safety guidelines address safety incidents. For the purpose of this AC, a “safety incident” is defined as an occurrence associated with the operation of the aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of operations. CBOs may consider including a safety incident reporting program for recreational flyers. Gathering such data may provide substantial benefits to CBOs, as the data would enable better understanding of the trends and risks that may be posed by UA operations. CBOs could then use the data to identify appropriate mitigations.

3.3.2.9 Safety Guidelines for Certain UA Operations. In addition to general guidelines addressed throughout this AC, comprehensive safety guidelines should include safety procedures, standards, limitations, and guidelines for specific types of operations that will be conducted by recreational flyers operating under that CBO’s safety guidelines, such as, but not limited to:

1. UA more than 55 pounds including the weight of anything attached to or carried by the aircraft.

Note: CBO standards and limitations for UA more than 55 pounds must be approved by the FAA. Large UA may only be operated from a fixed site. Refer to 49 U.S.C. § 44809(c)(2).

2. Turbine engine operations.

3. Combat simulations.

4. Racing operations.

5. Aerobatics.

6. Training.

7. Research conducted by institutions of higher education.

Note: Whether or not the specific operations listed here are considered recreational depends on the specific situation. Each individual pilot bears the responsibility for compliance with the 49 U.S.C.§ 44809(a)(1) requirement that the operation must be conducted for a recreational purpose.

3.4 Requests for Fixed Sites.

3.4.1  Interested parties may request authorization for a fixed site by submitting their request through the FAADroneZone.

3.4.2  Compliance with the requirements of part 89 for remote identification is required at fixed sites. For more details, see paragraph 1.7.4 above.
3.4.3  As stated in paragraph 3.1.1 above, a CBO “provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.”

3.4.4  A CBO does not have to request the establishment of a fixed site as part of the CBO recognition process. However, a CBO may submit a request to the FAA for the authorization of a fixed site. When a fixed site has received FAA authorization, recreational flyers will be able to use the site to conduct recreational operations using small UA or UA more than 55 pounds, or participate in a CBO-sanctioned event in such controlled airspace (i.e., Class B, C, or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport), without additional airspace authorizations. These operations are subject to the parameters of a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the ATC facility. Interested parties may request authorization for a fixed flying site by submitting their request through the FAADroneZone website. Any request submitted to the FAA for the authorization of a fixed site should include the following information:

1. Latitudes and longitudes that define the boundaries of the proposed site. Text, picture, and geographic files are generally acceptable file formats for depicting the requested area.

2. Maximum altitudes requested for operations at the site.

3. Hours of operation at the site.

4. Description of any unique operations, if applicable, including:

  • Large (more than 55 pounds) UA operations.
  • Turbine engine operations.
  • Combat simulations.
  • Racing operations.
  • Aerobatics.

5. Airspace classification.

6. Nearest airport.

7. Photos of site location.

8. Previous Letter of Agreement or Authorization, as applicable.

3.4.5 A request submitted to the FAA to allow operations at a fixed site should clearly indicate the kinds of operations anticipated to take place at the fixed site, such as aerobatics or air races, and include any information pertinent to the operations, such as additional safety procedures. These safety procedures should address the kinds of operations anticipated and how they will be followed at the fixed site. The FAA will review the submitted documents and determine whether it is appropriate to issue an authorization for the fixed site. If the FAA needs additional information, the FAA will contact the requester.

3.5 CBO-Sponsored Events.

3.5.1 Authorization for CBO-Sanctioned Event(s).

3.5.1.1 If a planned, UA-only event will occur at a fixed site in Class B, C, or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the CBO must request a fixed site authorization for the time and place of the event. Refer to 49 U.S.C. 44809(c)(1). Requesters should submit all of the site-specific information in paragraph 3.4.4 above and the dates and duration of the event via the FAADroneZone website at least 90 days in advance of the event for authorization. CBOs intending to conduct events in Class G airspace that may exceed 400 feet AGL must contact the FAA for further information.

3.5.1.2 UA-only aviation events conducted under the 49 U.S.C. § 44809 exception, such as UA races or aerobatic displays, must adhere to CBO safety guidelines developed in coordination with the FAA or in the case of operations involving UA weighing more than 55 pounds, approved by the FAA. If a CBO wishes to conduct such sanctioned events periodically, the FAA recommends that the CBO develop safety guidelines for CBO-sanctioned events as part of its guidelines submitted for recognition. For any public event, the FAA strongly recommends including procedures to protect nonparticipants from all UA participating in the event and identify persons responsible (e.g., safety officer, contest director) for ensuring the safety of the operations conducted onsite.

Note: As mentioned in paragraph 2.2.1, the FAA will not predetermine that all participants in an event are compliant with
49 U.S.C. § 44809(a). Each individual pilot maintains responsibility for compliance with the 49 U.S.C. § 44809(a) requirement for recreational purpose.

3.5.1.3 When a CBO makes an application for a sanctioned event at a fixed site in DroneZone, the CBO should provide its safety guidelines for the sponsored events as part of the application. If a CBO has not incorporated sanctioned events into its safety guidelines, then that CBO should include in its application how it will conduct the event safely protecting nonparticipants from all UA participating in the event.

Government and Public Safety Drone Rules

Public Safety Agencies, like Law Enforcement, are in the best position to deter, detect, and investigate unauthorized or unsafe UAS operations. While drones can serve as a useful tool, these agencies also have an important role in protecting the public from unsafe and unauthorized drone operations. The FAA has published information to help law enforcement and public safety professionals understand safe drone operations and their authority and thereby assist the FAA with enforcement of CFRs. The FAA publishes a toolkit designed to assist law enforcement and public safety entities in operating and handling situations involving drones or UAS. Special agents from the FAA’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) are the point of contact for federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and international law enforcement agencies. LEAP special agents can provide information on drone enforcement and registration matters. Providing a LEAP special agent with reports of suspected unauthorized UAS incidents in a timely manner increases the FAA’s ability to take enforcement action when appropriate.

Some additional resources:

DRONE RESPONSE PLAYBOOK FOR PUBLIC SAFETY

Supplement to the Drone Response Playbook for Public Safety

 

 

 

 

Government agencies (including Federal, State, and Tribal), law enforcement, and public safety entities have two options for operating drones under 55 pounds:

(1) Fly under 14 CFR 107 – for operations of UAS under 55 pounds at or below 400 feet AGL for visual line of sight operations.

(2) Fly under the statutory requirements for public aircraft (49 USC §40102(a) and § 40125). Operate with a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to be able to self-certify UAS and operators for flights performing governmental functions.

To support first responders and other entities affiliated with them, the FAA can quickly issue authorizations for natural disasters and other emergency responses.

The FAA issued AC 00-1.1B – Public Aircraft Operations—Manned and Unmanned to assist in determining whether government-owned or government-contracted manned and unmanned aircraft operations conducted within the territory of the United States are public or civil aircraft operations under the statutory definition of “public aircraft” in Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) §§ 40102(a)(41) and 40125 (the statute). Additionally, this AC contains FAA policy pertaining to civil aircraft operators that provide contract support to government entities. The intent of this material is to better define the responsibilities of the parties to these contracts. This AC is not mandatory and does not constitute a regulation. Nothing in this AC changes the legal requirement for public aircraft operators to comply with the statute.

49 USC §40102. Definitions

(41) “public aircraft” means any of the following:

(A) Except with respect to an aircraft described in subparagraph (E), an aircraft used only for the United States Government, except as provided in section 40125(b).

(B) An aircraft owned by the Government and operated by any person for purposes related to crew training, equipment development, or demonstration, except as provided in section 40125(b).

(C) An aircraft owned and operated by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments, except as provided in section 40125(b).

(D) An aircraft exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments, except as provided in section 40125(b).

(E) An aircraft owned or operated by the armed forces or chartered to provide transportation or other commercial air service to the armed forces under the conditions specified by section 40125(c). In the preceding sentence, the term “other commercial air service” means an aircraft operation that (i) is within the United States territorial airspace; (ii) the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration determines is available for compensation or hire to the public, and (iii) must comply with all applicable civil aircraft rules under title 14, Code of Federal Regulations.

49 USC §40125. Qualifications for public aircraft status

(a) Definitions.—In this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Commercial purposes.—The term “commercial purposes” means the transportation of persons or property for compensation or hire, but does not include the operation of an aircraft by the armed forces for reimbursement when that reimbursement is required by any Federal statute, regulation, or directive, in effect on November 1, 1999, or by one government on behalf of another government under a cost reimbursement agreement if the government on whose behalf the operation is conducted certifies to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration that the operation is necessary to respond to a significant and imminent threat to life or property (including natural resources) and that no service by a private operator is reasonably available to meet the threat.

(2) Governmental function.—The term “governmental function” means an activity undertaken by a government, such as national defense, intelligence missions, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement (including transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens), aeronautical research, or biological or geological resource management.

(3) Qualified non-crewmember.—The term “qualified non-crewmember” means an individual, other than a member of the crew, aboard an aircraft—

(A) operated by the armed forces or an intelligence agency of the United States Government; or

(B) whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function.

(4) Armed forces.—The term “armed forces” has the meaning given such term by section 101 of title 10.

(b) Aircraft Owned by Governments.—An aircraft described in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) of section 40102(a)(41) does not qualify as a public aircraft under such section when the aircraft is used for commercial purposes or to carry an individual other than a crewmember or a qualified non-crewmember.

(c) Aircraft Owned or Operated by the Armed Forces.—

(1) In general.—Subject to paragraph (2), an aircraft described in section 40102(a)(41)(E) qualifies as a public aircraft if—

(A) the aircraft is operated in accordance with title 10;

(B) the aircraft is operated in the performance of a governmental function under title 14, 31, 32, or 50 and the aircraft is not used for commercial purposes; or

(C) the aircraft is chartered to provide transportation or other commercial air service to the armed forces and the Secretary of Defense (or the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating) designates the operation of the aircraft as being required in the national interest.

(2) Limitation.—An aircraft that meets the criteria set forth in paragraph (1) and that is owned or operated by the National Guard of a State, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States, qualifies as a public aircraft only to the extent that it is operated under the direct control of the Department of Defense.

Educational Drone Rules

The FAA has a program designed for universities, colleges, and technical schools called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI). In this program the FAA recognizes and collaborates with institutions that prepare students for careers in UAS or drones. The FAA has resources for educators.

The rules for flying drones are based on the purpose of the operation. There are a few options for flying for educational purposes:

(1) There is an exception, Limited Exception for Recreational Flyers, and Community-Based Organizations (49 USC § 44809) that allows flying drones for recreational purposes (under certain conditions) without complying with Part 107. To fly under the statutory exception, you must comply with all portions of Section 44809, including flying your drone for recreational purposes.

(2) 14 CFR 107 is the primary law for flying small drones (less than 55 pounds) in the US. You can fly under 14 CFR 107 rules for many reasons, including work or business, recreation, education, or for public safety missions.

(3) There is also a statutory provision P.L. 115-254, Section 350, as amended by P.L. 116-283, Section 10002 that clarifies that education and research uses of drones for educational purposes can be operated under the rules for recreational flyers. This includes programs for institutes of higher education, programs run by JROTC, and educational programs chartered by a recognized CBO.

UAS Facility Maps

In the US, the FAA has created grid maps to assist remote pilots with navigating the complexity of airspace and associated airspace authorizations.

UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize 14 CFR Part 107 operations without additional safety analysis. The maps should be used to inform requests for 14 CFR Part 107 airspace authorizations and waivers in controlled airspace.

These maps do not authorize operations in these areas at the depicted altitudes. They are for informational purposes only. Operators must still apply to operate in controlled airspace, Class B, C, D, or surface area E, by completing an airspace authorization request in LAANC or the FAADroneZone or a waiver application in FAADroneZone.

Airport Data & Information Portal (ADIP)

The Airport Data and Information Portal (ADIP) helps the FAA collect airport and aeronautical data to meet the demands of the Next Generation National Airspace System. Guided by Advisory Circulars (ACs), the Airport Sponsor or proponents are key links in the information chain. Use the Airport Data and Information Portal to access airport data and submit changes matching defined business rules. FAA lines of business are notified once data has been submitted and approved.

Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC)

LAANC, or Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, is a partnership between FAA and industry. It directly supports UAS integration into the airspace.

LAANC provides:

(1) drone pilots with access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet;

(2) awareness of where pilots can and cannot fly; and

(3) air traffic professionals with visibility into where and when drones will operate.

Through the UAS Data Exchange, which is a collaborative approach between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties, companies called UAS Service Suppliers (USS) provide desktop applications and mobile apps for the drone pilot. LAANC automates the application and approval process for airspace authorizations.

The FAA also has an industry page for UAS Service Suppliers.

FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs)

Beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone doesn’t have Remote ID, you may be able to operate within a FAA-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA).  A FRIA is a defined geographic area where drones can be flown without Remote ID equipment. Both the drone and the pilot must be located within the FRIA’s boundaries throughout the operation. In addition, the pilot of the drone must be able to see it at all times throughout the duration of the flight.

Note: If a drone is equipped with Standard Remote ID, it may not be disabled or shut off while flying in a FRIA.

The FAA publishes the locations of approved FRIAs on the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery Service (UDDS) website

Only FAA-recognized Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and educational institutions such as primary and secondary schools, trade schools, colleges, and universities are eligible to request the establishment of a FRIA.

Note: FRIA approvals are valid for 48 calendar months and can be renewed.

FRIA applications are accepted through the FAA’s DroneZone website
1.    Create an account, or log into your existing account.
2.    Click “Add a Service” from the FAA DroneZone Services screen.
3.    Click “Select FRIA Service” followed by the “Add Service” button.
4.    Launch the FRIA dashboard and then confirm your profile.
5.    Click “Create a FRIA Application” from the FRIA dashboard.
6.    Complete and submit the FRIA application.
Note: The FAA cannot provide an estimated timeline on application review. The Remote ID operational compliance date is September 16, 2023.

For further guidance on the FRIA application, read Advisory Circular 89-3.

For additional information on FRIA, read 14 CFR Part 89.

Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that meet the statutory definition in Section 44809(h) of the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, may apply for FAA recognition:

  • Described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
  • Exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
  • Mission of which is demonstrably the furtherance of model aviation;
  • Provide a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for all aspects of model aviation;
  • Provide programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs; and
  • Provide assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites

Recreational drone flyers must use FAA-recognized CBO safety guidelines to meet the statutory requirement of Section 44809(a)(2). However, recreational flyers are not required to become members of a CBO.

FAA-recognized CBOs are eligible to apply for fixed sites, CBO sponsored events and FAA Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs).

For more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, read Advisory Circular 91-57C. Organizations seeking FAA recognition must apply through the FAA’s DroneZone.

FAA-recognized CBOs

DronePros and FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam)

DronePros are the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) volunteers who work closely with the FAA to promote safety in their local areas. These volunteers are interviewed and trained by the FAA and are provided with equipment and materials to help them plan events and give presentations. A DronePro may be able to come talk to your students or setup a flight demonstration. The FAASTeam has an online directory.

B4UFLY App

Recreational drone pilots who only fly their drone for fun may utilize the B4UFLY app to help show where they can and cannot fly with interactive maps. It is a free download for both iOS and Android.

Airspace Restrictions – NO DRONE ZONES

There are many types of airspace restrictions in the US.

  • Stadiums and sporting events
  • Near airports
  • Security sensitive airspace restrictions (military bases, national landmarks, and critical infrastructure)
  • Restricted or special use airspace
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wildfires
  • Hurricanes

Drone pilots are encouraged to check for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) by checking NOTAMs.

Drones are prohibited from flying over designated national security sensitive facilities. Operations are prohibited from the ground up to 400 feet above ground level, and apply to all types and purposes of UAS flight operations. Examples of these locations are:

  • Military bases designated as Department of Defense facilities
  • National landmarks – Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, Mt. Rushmore
  • Certain critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants

The FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System shows a map of security sensitive airspace.

 

On April 6, 2017, the FAA used its existing authority under 14 CFR § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” – to address national security concerns about unauthorized drone operations over 133 military facilities. This was the first time the agency instituted airspace restrictions that specifically apply only to unmanned aircraft, popularly known as “drones.” The authority under § 99.7 is limited to requests based on national security interests from the DOD and US federal security and intelligence agencies. US military facilities are vital to the nation’s security. The FAA and the DOD have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these 133 facilities. The restrictions became effective April 14, 2017. There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

On September 28, 2017, at the request of US national security and law enforcement agencies, the FAA used its existing authority under 14 CFR § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” – to address concerns about unauthorized drone operations over 10 DOI sites, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. The FAA and DOI agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these sites:

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY
  • Boston National Historical Park (U.S.S. Constitution), Boston, MA
  • Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Folsom Dam; Folsom, CA
  • Glen Canyon Dam; Lake Powell, AZ
  • Grand Coulee Dam; Grand Coulee, WA
  • Hoover Dam; Boulder City, NV
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; St. Louis, MO
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Keystone, SD
  • Shasta Dam; Shasta Lake, CA

The restrictions became effective October 5, 2017. There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

This was the first time the agency has placed airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft, or “drones,” over DOI landmarks. The FAA had placed similar airspace restrictions over military bases that currently remain in place.

On October 26, 2018, at the request of the DOD and the USCG, the FAA began using its existing authority under 14 CFR § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” – to address concerns about potentially malicious drone operations over certain, high-priority maritime operations. The FAA, in cooperation with DOD and USCG, is restricting drone flights near U.S. Navy (USN) and USCG vessels operating in the vicinity of Naval Base Kitsap in Washington state and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. Drone operations are required to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from these vessels. These special security instructions are provided in an FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). The full text of this NOTAM and additional information on these special security instructions include a visual depiction and geospatial definition of the relevant airspace.

The FAA also warns drone operators in this NOTAM that these USN and USCG vessels are authorized by law to take protective action against drones perceived to be safety or security threats such as those violating the cited FAA special security instructions. This action could result in interference, disruption, seizure, damage or destruction of these drones. Further, operators who do not comply with the FAA special security instructions also may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges. Any operator with an overriding reason of public interest or necessity (e.g., conducting a search and rescue mission) to operate their drone in close proximity to the cited USN and USCG vessels must first coordinate with the USN or USCG point of contact identified in the ArcGis website.

In a separate Special Notice Advisory NOTAM, also effective October 26, 2018, the FAA strongly advises drone operators to remain clear of DOD and DOE facilities and mobile assets, as well as USCG vessels. This Special Notice applies nationwide and alerts operators who ignore this caution and conduct drone flights perceived to be a safety or security threat to these facilities and mobile assets could face a reaction by security forces that results in the interference, disruption, seizure, damage or destruction of their aircraft.

On February 15, 2019, at the request of its federal security partners, the FAA used its existing authority under 14 CFR § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” – to address concerns about drone operations over national security sensitive facilities by establishing temporary UAS specific flight restrictions. Information on the FAA NOTAM, which defines these restrictions, and all of the currently covered locations, can be found at the UAS Data Display System, which provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important details. A link to these restrictions is also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app. Additional, broader information regarding flying drones in the NAS, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAA’s UAS website.

In cooperation with DOJ and DOD, the FAA established additional restrictions on drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following Federal facilities:

  • Federal Correctional Institution Allenwood Medium in Allenwood, PA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Beaumont Medium in Beaumont, TX
  • Federal Correctional Institution Butner Medium I in Butner, NC
  • Federal Correctional Institution Butner Medium II in Butner, NC
  • Federal Correctional Institution Coleman Medium near Sumterville, FL
  • Federal Correctional Institution Florence in Florence, CO
  • Federal Correctional Institution Forrest City Medium in Forrest City, AR
  • Federal Correctional Institution Hazelton near Bruceton Mills, WV
  • Federal Correctional Institution Lompoc in Lompoc, CA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale I in Oakdale, LA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale II in Oakdale, LA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg near Hopewell, VA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Pollock in Pollock, LA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Terre Haute in Terre Haute, IN
  • Federal Correctional Institution Tucson in Tucson, AZ
  • Federal Correctional Institution Victorville Medium I in Victorville, CA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Victorville Medium II in Victorville, CA
  • Federal Correctional Institution Yazoo City Medium in Yazoo City, MS
  • Federal Detention Center Honolulu in Honolulu, HI
  • Federal Detention Center Houston in Houston, TX
  • Federal Detention Center Miami in Miami, FL
  • Federal Detention Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA
  • Federal Detention Center SeaTac near Seattle, WA
  • Federal Medical Center Carswell near Fort Worth, TX
  • Federal Medical Center Fort Worth in Fort Worth, TX
  • Federal Medical Center Rochester in Rochester, MN
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center Chicago in Chicago, IL
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center New York in New York City, NY
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center San Diego in San Diego, CA
  • Medical Center for Federal Prisoners Springfield in Springfield, MO
  • Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn in Brooklyn, NY
  • Metropolitan Detention Center Guaynabo in Guaynabo, PR
  • Metropolitan Detention Center Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA
  • Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD
  • Fort Gordon near Augusta, GA
  • Fort Lee near Richmond, VA
  • Holston Army Ammunition Plant near Kingsport, TN
  • McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, OK
  • Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA
  • Joint Base McGuire near Trenton, NJ
  • Pearl Harbor Naval Defense Sea Area in Honolulu, HI

These changes have been highlighted by FAA NOTAM FDC [9/2586]. Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

On October 29, 2019, the FAA announced Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) airspace restrictions over additional national security sensitive locations, effective November 7. In cooperation with its federal partners, the FAA restricted UAS operations in the airspace over 60 additional Department of Defense and Department of Justice facilities to address concerns about malicious drone activity. An FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), FDC 9/7752, defines these special security instructions. The FAA has published a new NOTAM, FDC 9/1278, which alerts UAS operators and others in the aviation community to this change and points to FDC 9/7752.

UAS operators are strongly advised to review these NOTAMs, as well as important supporting information provided by the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System (UDDS) website. This website contains the text of FDC 9/7752 (click on “UAS NOTAM FDC 9/7752” on scroll bar along the top of the page). Further down the page is an interactive map (“Map of FAA UAS Data”) displaying restricted airspace throughout the US. Zooming in will enable viewers to click on each of the 60 new DOD and DOJ locations and see the specific restrictions. Each of the 60 locations are red. The restrictions are also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app. UAS operators who violate these flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

The FAA considers requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using its authority under 14 CFR § 99.7. The agency will announce any future changes, including additional locations, as appropriate. 

The 60 locations:

  • Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville in Aliceville, Alabama
  • Federal Correctional Institution Ashland in Ashland, Kentucky
  • Federal Correctional Institution Bastrop in Bastrop, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Beckley in Beaver, West Virginia
  • Federal Correctional Institution Bennetsville in Bennetsville, South Carolina
  • Federal Correctional Institution Berlin in Berlin, New Hampshire
  • Federal Correctional Institution Big Spring in Big Spring, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland in Cumberland, Maryland
  • Federal Correctional Institution Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut
  • Federal Correctional Institution Dublin in Dublin, California
  • Federal Correctional Institution Edgefield in Edgefield, South Carolina
  • Federal Correctional Institution El Reno in El Reno, Oklahoma
  • Federal Correctional Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio
  • Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Littleton, Colorado
  • Federal Correctional Institution Estill in Estill, South Carolina
  • Federal Correctional Institution Fairton in Fairton, New Jersey
  • Federal Correctional Institution Gilmer in Glenville, West Virginia
  • Federal Correctional Institution Greenville in Greenville, Illinois
  • Federal Correctional Institution Herlong in Herlong, California
  • Federal Correctional Institution Jesup in Jesup, Georgia
  • Federal Correctional Institution La Tuna in Anthony, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Loretto in Loretto, Pennsylvania
  • Federal Correctional Institution Lompoc in Lompoc, California
  • Federal Correctional Institution Manchester in Manchester, Kentucky
  • Federal Correctional Institution Marianna in Marianna, Florida
  • Federal Correctional Institution McDowell in Welch, West Virginia
  • Federal Correctional Institution McKean in Lewis Run, Pennsylvania
  • Federal Correctional Institution Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Federal Correctional Institution Mendota in Mendota, California
  • Federal Correctional Institution Miami in Miami, Florida
  • Federal Correctional Institution Milan in Milan, Michigan
  • Federal Correctional Institution Morgantown in Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Federal Correctional Institution Otisville in Otisville, New York
  • Federal Correctional Institution Oxford in Oxford, Wisconsin
  • Federal Correctional Institution Pekin in Pekin, Illinois
  • Federal Correctional Institution Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Federal Correctional Institution Ray Brook in Ray Brook, New York
  • Federal Correctional Institution Safford in Safford, Arizona
  • Federal Correctional Institution Sandstone in Sandstone, Minnesota
  • Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkill in Minersville, Pennsylvania
  • Federal Correctional Institution Seagoville in Seagoville, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Sheridan in Sheridan, Oregon
  • Federal Correctional Institution Talladega in Talladega, Alabama
  • Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island in San Pedro, California
  • Federal Correctional Institution Texarkana in Texarkana, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Three Rivers in Three Rivers, Texas
  • Federal Correctional Institution Waseca in Waseca, Minnesota
  • Federal Correctional Institution Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina
  • Federal Medical Center Devens in Devens, Massachusetts
  • Federal Medical Center Butner in Butner, North Carolina
  • Federal Medical Center Lexington in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Federal Transfer Center Oklahoma City in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • United States Penitentiary Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia
  • United States Penitentiary Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Martindale AHP in San Antonio, Texas
  • Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Tobyhanna Army Complex in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania
  • Military Ocean Terminal Concord in Concord, California
  • Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Sunny Point, North Carolina

No Drone Zones” help people identify areas where they cannot operate a UAS. It is crucial to understand the meaning behind the sign as some identify areas where there is a TFR, whereas others only restrict taking off or landing but not overflight.

These photos, taken by the author on November 6, 2022, are typical of the No Drone Zone signage.

 

UAS Roadmap and ConOps

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95) mandated the creation and publication of a 5-year Roadmap for the FAA‘s process of developing regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements to support safe and efficient UAS operations in the NAS, while coordinating with relevant departments and agencies to address related key policy areas of concern such as privacy and national security. Since 2013, the FAA has published this Roadmap for the integration of UAS into the NAS. In the latest version, published in 2020, the FAA has the following to say:

This Roadmap lays out the current and projected status of many of the most complex issues the FAA and the drone community face as we work together to integrate UAS into the NAS. It touches on recent UAS accomplishments, the 2018 Reauthorization Act, the UAS IPP, other partnerships, the regulatory outlook, airspace access and management, and education and outreach efforts. As we look to the future, we must consider the challenges of remote ID implementation, c-UAS issues, UTM and AAM. The roadmap also focuses on the challenges of the pace of UAS innovation and the human element—societal acceptance. Certainly, there is a long road ahead of us. But the Roadmap tells another story, too. Here we see a path forward, through regulation and innovation, all in the service of seamless drone operation. It is the story of an Agency and Department determined to work with stakeholders to overcome obstacles, in the pursuit of the promise of an airspace system that includes manned and unmanned aircraft operating safely in the sky.

Incidentally, the DOD also has a Roadmap for 2017-2042.

In 2018, FAA NextGen Office released an initial overarching ConOps (V1.0) for UTM that presented a vision and described the associated operational and technical requirements for developing a supporting architecture and operating within a UTM ecosystem. UTM is defined as the way the FAA will support operations for UAS operating in low altitude airspace. UTM utilizes industry’s ability to supply services under the FAA’s regulatory authority where these services do not currently exist. It is a community-based traffic management system, where the Operators and entities providing operation support services are responsible for the coordination, execution, and management of operations, with rules of the road established by FAA. This federated set of services enables cooperative management of operations between UAS Operators, facilitated by third-party support providers through networked information exchanges. UTM is designed to support the demand and expectations for a broad spectrum of operations with ever-increasing complexity and risk through an innovative, competitive open market of service suppliers. The services provided are interoperable to allow the UTM ecosystem to scale to meet the needs of the UAS Operator community.

The FAA updated this ConOps to document the continued maturation of UTM and share the vision with government and industry stakeholders. UTM ConOps V2.0 continues to focus on UTM operations below 400 feet AGL, but also addresses increasingly more complex operations within and across both uncontrolled (Class G) and controlled (Classes B, C, D, E) airspace environments. V2.0 updates and expands the set of operational scenarios, describing more complex operations in denser airspace, including BVLOS operations in controlled airspace. V2.0 includes updated descriptions of/approaches to several UTM components, including UAS Volume Reservations (previously referred to as Dynamic Restrictions), Performance Authorizations, data archiving and access, USS service categories, UTM/ATM contingency notification, and security aspects associated with UTM operations. V2.0 also introduces new topics including Airspace Authorization for BVLOS flight within controlled airspace, UTM architecture support to remote identification of UAS Operators, and standards development efforts with industry as an integral part of enabling UTM operations.

FAA UTM ConOps documents do not prescribe solutions or specific implementation methods, unless for example purposes. Rather, they describe the essential conceptual and operational elements associated with UTM operations that will serve to inform development of solutions across the many actors and stakeholders involved in implementing UTM. They also support a spiral implementation approach – maturing the concept through analysis of more complex airspace environments, tested and validated by field demonstrations, including NASA Technology Capability Level (TCL), FAA UPP, and UAS IPP demonstrations. Future versions will continue to be developed as needed to reflect the progress of research and continued concept maturation resulting from collaboration with the FAA, NASA, and industry partners.

Know Before You Fly

Know Before You Fly is an educational campaign that provides prospective users with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly. The campaign is organized by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Please take a look at their vast array of resources.

Federal v. State Powers v. Local Powers

State sovereignty has been a major issue in American political history. The founders of the republic designed a federal system that established supremacy for the US government within the realm of its delegated authority while also protecting the sovereign interests of the states.

Certain powers are given to the federal government through the Constitution, and all other matters are reserved to the states through the Tenth Amendment. This means that each state government is also a sovereign entity. We therefore have two levels of sovereignty: the federal government and the state governments.

The US Constitution Article VI declares that federal law is the “Supreme Law of the Land.” As a result, when a federal law conflicts with a state or local law, the federal law will supersede the other laws. This is commonly known as “preemption” to put it simply.

Congress has vested the FAA with authority to regulate the areas of airspace use, management and efficiency, air traffic control, safety, navigational facilities, and aircraft noise at its source. 49 USC §§ 40103, 44502, and 44701-44735. Congress has directed the FAA to “develop plans and policy for the use of the navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace.” 49 USC § 40103(b)(1). Congress has further directed the FAA to “prescribe air traffic regulations on the flight of aircraft (including regulations on safe altitudes)” for navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft; protecting individuals and property on the ground; using the navigable airspace efficiently; and preventing collision between aircraft, between aircraft and land or water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne objects. 49 USC § 40103(b)(2).

A consistent regulatory system for aircraft and use of airspace has the broader effect of ensuring the highest level of safety for all aviation operations. To ensure the maintenance of a safe and sound air transportation system and of navigable airspace free from inconsistent restrictions, FAA has regulatory authority over matters pertaining to aviation safety.

In 2015, to address the potential clash between federal and state and local laws, the FAA published a State and Local Regulation of UAS Fact Sheet.

In this fact sheet the FAA was clear:

UAS are aircraft subject to regulation by the FAA to ensure safety of flight, and safety of people and property on the ground. States and local jurisdictions are increasingly exploring regulation of UAS or proceeding to enact legislation relating to UAS operations. In 2015, approximately 45 states have considered restrictions on UAS. In addition, public comments on the FAA’s proposed rule, “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” (Docket No. FAA-2015-0150), expressed concern about the possible impact of state and local laws on UAS operations. Incidents involving unauthorized and unsafe use of small, remote-controlled aircraft have risen dramatically. Pilot reports of interactions with suspected unmanned aircraft have increased from 238 sightings in all of 2014 to 780 through August of this year. During this past summer, the presence of multiple UAS in the vicinity of wildfires in the western U.S. prompted firefighters to ground their aircraft on several occasions. This fact sheet is intended to provide basic information about the federal regulatory framework for use by states and localities when considering laws affecting UAS. State and local restrictions affecting UAS operations should be consistent with the extensive federal statutory and regulatory framework pertaining to control of the airspace, flight management and efficiency, air traffic control, aviation safety, navigational facilities, and the regulation of aircraft noise at its source.

In 2018 the FAA again reiterated the need for states to avoid stepping on federal toes.

Congress has provided the FAA with exclusive authority to regulate aviation safety, the efficiency of the navigable airspace, and air traffic control, among other things. State and local governments are not permitted to regulate any type of aircraft operations, such as flight paths or altitudes, or the navigable airspace.

However, these powers are not the same as regulation of aircraft landing sites, which involves local control of land and zoning. Laws traditionally related to state and local police power – including land use, zoning, privacy, and law enforcement operations – generally are not subject to federal regulation. 
Cities and municipalities are not permitted to have their own rules or regulations governing the operation of aircraft.
However, as indicated, they may generally determine the location of aircraft landing sites through their land use powers.

State Preemption

Much like federal preemption, there is also state preemption, or the use of state law to nullify a municipal ordinance or authority. Where this occurs, there will be a Green Box around the clause to alert you to the fact, just like this.

 

In 2023, the FAA released an Updated Fact Sheet (2023) on State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) issued by the FAA, Office of the Chief Counsel, and the United States Department of Transportation, Office of the General Counsel, discussing legal considerations applicable to state and local regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) (also commonly referred to as “drones”). Like its 2015 predecessor, the Fact Sheet is a guide for state and local governments as they respond to the increased use of UAS in the national airspace.

The updated Fact Sheet summarizes well-established legal principles regarding federal authority for regulating the efficiency of the airspace, including the operation or flight of aircraft, which includes, as a matter of law, UAS. It reviews the federal responsibility for ensuring the safety of flight, as well as the safety of people and property on the ground as a result of the operation of aircraft. The updated Fact Sheet also sets forth the basic preemption framework applicable to UAS:

  • States and local governments may not regulate in the fields of aviation safety or airspace efficiency but generally may regulate outside those fields.
  • A state or local law will be preempted if it conflicts with FAA regulations.
  • State or local laws affecting commercial UAS operators are more likely to be preempted.

As substantial air safety issues are implicated when state or local governments attempt to regulate the operation of aircraft in the national airspace, but legitimate state and local interests in health and safety exist in other contexts, the updated Fact Sheet provides examples of laws addressing UAS that would be subject to federal preemption and others that would likely pass muster.

The updated Fact Sheet concludes with a discussion of Enforcement Matters and Contact Information for Questions. The FAA Office of the Chief Counsel’s Aviation Litigation Division is available to answer questions about the principles set forth in this fact sheet and to discuss with you the intersection of Federal, state, and local regulation of aviation, generally, and UAS operations, specifically.

State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Fact Sheet

 

 

Rulemaking Procedure

Agencies, like the FAA, get their authority to issue regulations, CFRs, from laws, statutes, enacted by Congress. Congress may also pass a law that more specifically directs an agency to solve a particular problem or accomplish a certain goal. An agency must not take action that goes beyond its statutory authority or violates the Constitution. Agencies must follow an open public process when they issue regulations, according to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). This includes publishing a statement of rulemaking authority in the Federal Register (government website) for all proposed and final rules. The guiding document to the rulemaking process discusses the Petition for Rulemaking, NPRM, Federal Register, Comment Period, interim rule, direct final rule, and effective date, among others.

In a nutshell, Congress mandates the FAA to create CFRs, or the FAA receives a “Petition for Rulemaking” from a member of the public. The NPRM, drafted by the FAA is then placed on the Federal Register to notify the public and to give them an opportunity to submit comments. The proposed rule and the public comments received on it form the basis of the final rule.

In general, the FAA will specify a comment period ranging from 30 to 60 days. For complex rulemakings, the FAA may provide for longer time periods, like 180 days or more. But they may also use shorter comment periods when that can be justified.

At the end of the comment period, several committees review the comments, and then a final rule is issued.

Final rules have preambles. They are placed on the Federal Register together with a summary and an effective date. Generally, the rule is effective no less than 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. If the agency wants to make the rule effective sooner, it must cite “good cause” (persuasive reasons) as to why this is in the public interest.

Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP) for UAS

Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP) for UAS includes protections offered through NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). This will ensure that the safety data that is collected will result in actionable information for the entire aviation community. This ASRP enables a non-punitive avenue for anonymous reporting. If you file a report with NASA’s ASRS, also known as a NASA report, even if a finding of a violation is made, a civil penalty or certificate suspension will not be imposed if:

(1) the violation was inadvertent and not deliberate;

(2) the violation did not involve a crime, accident of action under 49 USC § 44709;

(3) the person has not been found in any prior FAA enforcement action to have committed a violation of 49 USC Subtitle VII, or any regulation there for a period of 5 years; and

(4) the report was filed within 10 days after the violation.

UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP)/BEYOND

A Presidential Memorandum established the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) on October 25, 2017. The US DOT instituted it as a three-year program to enable state, local, and tribal governments, in collaboration with industry to advance more complex UAS operations in the NAS. Under the IPP, the FAA executed Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with 10 state, local, and tribal governments to conduct advanced UAS operations to advance safe and secure integration. One of those participants, the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida, withdrew from the program in early 2019. The 9 remaining lead participants accomplished many achievements under the IPP, and the FAA shared the relevant data and lessons learned with the appropriate policymakers and regulatory teams within the FAA and DOT to inform regulations, policy, and guidance. The FAA concluded the IPP on October 25, 2020, as mandated by statute, and decided to continue the partnerships and progress it made under the IPP to continue to address remaining challenges.

The FAA is tackling the remaining challenges of UAS integration through a new program called BEYOND. These challenge areas are:

(1) BVLOS operations that are repeatable, scalable, and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public operations, and small package delivery.

(2) Leveraging industry operations to better analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS operations.

(3) Focusing on community engagement efforts to collect, analyze and address community concerns.

The BEYOND program started on October 26, 2020, to continue the partnerships with eight of the nine IPP participants. The program will focus on operating under established rules rather than waivers, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, collecting and addressing community feedback and understanding the societal and community benefits, and to streamline the approval processes for UAS integration.

Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA)

The Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA) program was created as a natural evolution of the Partnership for Safety Plan (PSP). The IPA program will continue addressing and advancing complex drone operations by establishing working relationships with industry partners to aid the full integration of drones into the NAS.

With the implementation of the IPA, the FAA will slowly phase out the PSP and once complete, allocate all resources to the new IPA program.

The IPA provides an arrangement to share mutually beneficial information, while building trust, leadership, and teamwork through a public-private relationship. By outlining the principles and procedures for early identification of critical issues and planning, the FAA can assist IPA participants in coordinating the safety cases necessary for operational approvals, and future projects can be completed more efficiently.

One of the primary objectives of the IPA program is to provide a framework for collaboration that focuses on complex operations. In turn, this arrangement will help further develop and normalize our review and approval processes in a way that will benefit the industry at large.

UAS Test Sites

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA 2012) directed the FAA Administrator to initiate a 5-year program to establish 6 UAS test sites to support the FAA in integrating UAS into the NAS. After conducting a competitive selection process, the FAA designated 6 UAS Test Sites, which became operational in 2014 and began to conduct test flights. In 2016, the FAA added a seventh test site as mandated by the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 (FESSA 2016). The following list names the seven FAA UAS Test Sites:

(1) Griffiss International Airport, NY

(2) New Mexico State University, NM

(3) North Dakota Department of Commerce, ND

(4) State of Nevada, NV

(5) Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, TX

(6) University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK

(7) Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, VA

The main objective of the UAS Test Site Program is to provide verification of the safety of public and civil UAS, operations, and related navigation procedures before their integration into the NAS. Other program requirements include supporting the FAA during the development of certification standards, air traffic requirements, coordinating research and other work with NASA, FAA NextGen, the DoD, and other Federal agencies.

 

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970 and requires the FAA to ensure that environmental considerations are factored into its decision-making process. NEPA reviews must be completed for actions that could cause reasonably foreseeable effects on the human environment, whether the actions are taken by the agency itself, or the actions are taken by airspace users seeking FAA authorization.

The NEPA process ensures that:

  • FAA decision makers understand the potential environmental impacts of proposed authorizations;
  • FAA fully discloses the potential impacts to the human environment from the proposed activities; and
  • FAA evaluates the reasonable alternatives to the proposed activities.

The FAA is conducting NEPA reviews for advanced drone operations that are being proposed to the FAA for authorization.

Completed records of decision may be found below:

June 29, 2023 – Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs) under the Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Final Rule (14 CFR Part 89) – The FAA will receive and consider applications from eligible entities to establish FRIAs, which are defined geographic areas where unmanned aircraft can be flown without remote identification. The FAA has discretion to approve or deny an application to establish a FRIA as set forth in subpart C of the Remote ID Rule. The FAA will conduct reviews of individual requests to establish FRIAs to ensure that they reflect the environmental impacts and assumptions set forth in this document. As such, some individual FRIA locations may require additional environmental analysis and documentation. However, any subsequent environmental review may be tiered from the PEA, requiring the environmental review to focus only on the specific issue at the FRIA location that falls outside the review of this PEA.

 

March 30, 2023 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for UPS Flight Forward Drone Package Delivery Operations in Columbus, Ohio – UPS Flight Forward, Inc. (UPSFF) will conduct drone package delivery operations using the 29-pound Matternet M2 drone within an operating area that covers roughly 3.77 square miles in Columbus, Ohio. UPSFF will deliver small packages to pre-approved distribution centers (DCs) within the operating area. The operations would occur during daylight hours up to seven days per week, with no flights on holidays.

 

January 3, 2023 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Issuing a Certificate of Waiver to Florida Power & Light Company for Drone Operations in Florida – Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), owned by NextEra Energy, Inc. (NextEra), will conduct drone operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the remote pilot in command (RPIC), without a visual observer, and over people and moving vehicles. The waiver would apply to drone operations at NextEra-owned or serviced property in Florida. FPL uses drones to inspect and assess NextEra-owned or serviced infrastructure across Florida for damage, preventative maintenance, and post-storm assessment.

 

December 23, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for UPS Flight Forward Drone Package Delivery Operations in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – UPS Flight Forward, Inc. (UPSFF) will conduct drone package delivery operations using the 29-pound Matternet M2 drone within an operating area that covers roughly 40.4 square miles in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. UPSFF will deliver small packages to pre-approved distribution centers (DCs) within the operating area. The operations would occur during daylight hours up to seven days per week, with no flights on holidays.

 

December 23, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Zipline International Inc. Drone Package Delivery Operations, Salt Lake City, Utah and Surrounding Area – Zipline International Inc. (Zipline) will conduct drone package deliveries using its 46-pound drone from one hub, or “nest,” in South Jordan/Salt Lake City, Utah, within an approved operating area that covers approximately 1,675 square miles of the Salt Lake City region. The proposed delivery operations from the South Jordan/Salt Lake City nest would occur during daylight hours up to seven days per week. Zipline is planning to conduct deliveries to pre-approved customer locations in 17 communities across the operating area, with a maximum of approximately 20 delivery flight operations per day from the South Jordan/Salt Lake City nest under the scope of the proposed action.

 

December 9, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Amazon Prime Air Drone Package Delivery Operations in College Station, Texas – Amazon Prime Air (Prime Air) will conduct drone package delivery operations from its Prime Air Drone Delivery Center (PADDC) in College Station, Texas, using its electric-powered drone that has an empty weight of 87 pounds and can carry packages weighing up to five pounds to eligible delivery locations within 3.73 miles. Operations from the College Station PADDC would occur during daylight hours up to five days per week. The operating area is divided into four sectors, with each sector having a maximum of approximately 50 delivery flights per operating day. Only one aircraft in each sector can be airborne at any time.

 

November 23, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Causey Aviation Unmanned, Inc. Drone Package Delivery Operations in Fayetteville, Holly Springs, Raeford, and Pinehurst, North Carolina – Causey will conduct drone package delivery operations at four locations in North Carolina – Fayetteville, Holly Springs, Raeford, and Pinehurst – using the 33-pound Flytrex Drone Delivery System. In each of the four locations, Causey will operate from its existing Distribution Centers (DCs) that serve as a central hub of operations. Causey is partnering with Flytrex to transport medical supplies, small consumer goods, and food items to pre-approved delivery locations within two nautical miles of its DCs.

 

November 18, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for UPS Flight Forward Drone Package Delivery Operations in The Villages, Florida – UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) will conduct drone package delivery operations using the 29-pound Matternet M2 drone within an operating area that covers roughly 37 square miles in The Villages, Florida. UPSFF will deliver small packages to pre-approved distribution centers (DCs) within the operating area. The operations would occur during daylight hours up to seven days per week, with no flights on holidays.

 

November 10, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Amazon Prime Air Drone Package Delivery Operations in Lockeford, California – Amazon Prime Air (Prime Air) will conduct drone package delivery operations from its Prime Air Drone Delivery Center (PADDC) in Lockeford, California, using its electric-powered drone that has an empty weight of 87 pounds and can carry packages weighing up to five pounds to eligible delivery locations within four miles. Operations from the Lockeford PADDC would occur during daylight hours up to five days per week. The operating area is divided into four sectors, with each sector having a maximum of approximately 50 delivery flights per operating day. Only one aircraft in each sector can be airborne at any time.

 

November 9, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Amazon Prime Air Drone Package Delivery Test Operations in Pendleton, Oregon – Amazon Prime Air (Prime Air) will continue drone package delivery test operations and Durability & Reliability (D&R) flights at the Pendleton Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Range in Pendleton. Prime Air projects operating a maximum of approximately 48 test flights per operating day over roughly 250 operating days per year. The proposed test flight operations would occur during daylight hours up to five days per week.

 

August 11, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for UPS Flight Forward, Inc. Drone Flight Training Operations at “The Farm” in Fisherville, Kentucky – UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) will conduct training operations under Part 91 that may include checking, proving, testing, operational developments, assessments, and validations using its 29-pound Matternet M2 drone. UPSFF projects operating a maximum of 32 flights per operating day at the Farm, combining both the Part 107 training operations and the Part 91 training operations.

 

July 14, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Zipline International Inc. Drone Package Delivery Operations, Pea Ridge, Arkansas and Surrounding Area – Zipline will conduct drone package deliveries using a 46-pound drone from one hub, or “nest,” in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, within an approved operating area that covers roughly 1,200 square miles of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. Zipline is planning to conduct deliveries to pre-approved customer locations in 12 communities across the operating area.

 

February 28, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for Zipline International Inc. Drone Package Delivery Operations, Kannapolis, North Carolina and Surrounding Area – Zipline will conduct drone package deliveries using a 46-pound drone from one hub, or “nest,” in Kannapolis, North Carolina, within an approved operating area on the northern side of the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. Zipline is planning to conduct deliveries to pre-approved customer locations in 16 communities across the operating area.

 

February 9, 2022 – Final Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact, and Record of Decision for Wing Aviation Drone Package Delivery Operations, Frisco and Little Elm, Texas – Wing Aviation will conduct commercial package deliveries using a 15-pound drone from two nests in Frisco and Little Elm, Texas, on the northern side of the Dallas Metropolitan Area. Small consumer goods and food items will be delivered to pre-approved delivery locations within the operating area.

 

December 17, 2021 – Environmental Assessment and Record of Decision for UPS Flight Forward: Drone Package Delivery Operations, Wake Forest Baptist Health Routes, Winston-Salem, North CarolinaUPS Flight Forward will modify some of its existing drone package delivery routes between three Wake Forest Baptist Health facilities in Winston-Salem, NC. UPS Flight Forward will transport packages including medical supplies and samples using a 28-pound drone. The route measurements will be 0.77 nautical miles (NM), 0.71 NM, and 0.31 NM, respectively.

 

December 17, 2021 – Environmental Assessment for Wing Aviation: Drone Package Delivery Operations, Christiansburg, Virginia – Finding of No Significant Impact and Record of Decision for Environmental Assessment for Wing Aviation Drone Package Delivery Operations Christiansburg, Virginia – Wing Aviation will be conducting package deliveries using its 15-pound drone from one nest in Christiansburg, Virginia. Wing will deliver small consumer goods and food items to residences and other delivery locations. Wing is amending its air carrier Operations Specifications so that it can operate at a higher pilot to aircraft ratio.

 

November 15, 2021 – Environmental Assessment for UPS Flight Forward: Drone Package Delivery Operations, Lake Sumter Landing Route, The Villages, FloridaUPS Flight Forward will be conducting package deliveries using a 28-pound drone. UPSFlight Forward will transport small consumer goods and food items from a new distribution center at Lake Sumter Landing to an existing distribution center approximately 2.38 miles away near the Elan Buena Vista Senior Living community in The Villages, FL.

 

H.R.1512 – CLEAN Future Act

H.R.1512 – CLEAN Future Act – 17th Congress (2021-2022)

This bill creates requirements and incentives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The bill establishes an interim goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 as well as a national goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Each federal agency must develop a plan to achieve the goals.

Beginning in 2023, retail electricity suppliers must provide an increasing percentage of electricity that is generated without the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (zero-emission electricity). By 2035, the suppliers must provide 100% zero-emission electricity or demonstrate alternative means of compliance. For example, the suppliers may buy credits under a trading program that allows entities to buy, sell, and trade credits to demonstrate compliance.

The bill also establishes a variety of requirements, programs, and incentives to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by

  • modernizing the electric grid and supporting clean energy microgrids;
  • increasing the use of renewable energy and advanced nuclear power technologies;
  • increasing energy efficiency in buildings, homes, and appliances;
  • supporting clean transportation, including electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure;
  • issuing greenhouse gas standards for certain vehicles, engines, and aircraft;
  • promoting manufacturing and industrial decarbonization, including through buy-clean programs;
  • supporting environmental justice efforts; and
  • reducing methane, plastics, and super pollutants.

National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries

The Biden Administration has laid out a bold agenda to address the climate crisis and build a clean and equitable energy economy that achieves carbon-pollution-free electricity by 2035, and puts the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050 to the benefit of all Americans. Lithium-based batteries power our daily lives from consumer electronics to national defense. They enable electrification of the transportation sector and provide stationary grid storage, critical to developing the clean-energy economy. The US has a strong research community, a robust innovation infrastructure for technological advancement of batteries, and an emerging lithium-based, battery manufacturing industry. Establishing a domestic supply chain for lithium-based batteries requires a national commitment to both solving breakthrough scientific challenges for new materials and developing a manufacturing base that meets the demands of the growing electric vehicle (EV) and stationary grid storage markets. This National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, developed by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries will help guide investments to develop a domestic lithium-battery manufacturing value chain that creates equitable clean-energy manufacturing jobs in America while helping to mitigate climate change impacts.

 

Package Delivery by Drone (Part 135)

From 2017 through 2020, UAS IPP focused on testing and evaluating the integration of civil and public drone operations into our NAS. This work continues under the UAS BEYOND program which focuses on the remaining challenges of UAS integration, including BVLOS operations, societal and economic benefits of UAS operations, and community engagement.

Participants in these programs are among the first to prove their concepts, including package delivery by drone through part 135 air carrier certification. Part 135 certification is the only path for small drones to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight.

As participants in these programs move to prove their concepts, they must use FAA’s existing Part 135 certification process, some of which FAA has adapted for drone operations by granting exemptions for rules that don’t apply to drones, such as the requirement to carry the flight manuals on board the aircraft.

All part 135 applicants must go through the full five phases of the certification process.

The FAA issued the first Part 135 Single pilot air carrier certificate for drone operations to Wing Aviation, LLC in April 2019. The FAA later issued Wing a Standard Part 135 air carrier certificate to operate a drone aircraft in October 2019. Wing Aviation is part of the IPP, delivering food and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals directly to homes in Christiansburg, VA.

UPS Flight Forward, Inc., another participant in the IPP, was the first company to receive a Standard Part 135 air carrier certificate to operate a drone aircraft. On September 27, 2019, UPS Flight Forward conducted its first package delivery by drone with its part 135 certification when it flew medical supplies at WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, NC.

Amazon, a PSP participant, is the first company to operate a drone larger than 55lbs under a standard Part 135 air carrier certificate. Amazon began commercial operations in August 2020.  They currently deliver Amazon products in Oregon and Northern California, with further expansion planned.

On June 17, 2022, Zipline became the fourth drone operator to receive a part 135 certificate to be authorized to operate as an air carrier and conduct common carriage operations. This is the first part 135 certificate issued to an operator under the BEYOND program and the first fixed wing part 135 UAS operator to be certified.

 

Agricultural drones under Part 137

FAA – Dispensing Chemicals and Agricultural Products with UAS

Notice 8900.704 – Part 137 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Certification

14 CFR Part 11.81

At the FAA Drone Symposium in Baltimore, in August 2023, David Boulter, the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety (Acting), was quoted as saying the FAA announced changes to Part 137 UAS operations: “FAA has determined that Part 137 UAS agricultural aircraft operations present a lower risk than other certificated operations and revising the part 137 certification process would not adversely affect safety.” Boulter expanded on FAA’s work to streamline the agricultural drone process so that operators can receive certification in days, as opposed to months or years. Part 137 operations are some of the most common exemptions because they are low-risk in rural and sparsely operated areas. Since May 2023 and under the new process, FAA has issued 200 operator certificates and 750 exemptions to allow current exemption holders to take advantage of the new process. The Agency is continuing to clear the backlog so that operators can take advantage of the new process this growing season. Boulter also announced that FAA has approved Pyka Pelican Spray aircraft for agricultural operations. Weighing over 1,000 pounds, it is the largest UAS the Agency has approved for these types of operations.

Pyka Secures FAA Authorization for Commercial Operation of Largest Ever Highly-Automated Electric Drone in the United States

 

UAS Traffic Management (UTM)

The FAA, NASA, other federal partner agencies, and industry are collaborating to explore concepts of operation, data exchange requirements, and a supporting framework to enable multiple BVLOS drone operations at low altitudes (under 400 feet AGL) in airspace where FAA air traffic services are not provided.

UAS Traffic Management (UTM) is a “traffic management” ecosystem for uncontrolled operations that is separate from, but complementary to, the FAA’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system. UTM development will ultimately identify services, roles and responsibilities, information architecture, data exchange protocols, software functions, infrastructure, and performance requirements for enabling the management of low-altitude uncontrolled drone operations.

In 2023, the FAA published its UTM plan.

The UTM ConOps reflects collaborative efforts across the FAA, as well as ongoing interagency efforts with NASA.

 

 

UTM Pilot Program (UPP)

SUAS operators are continuously exercising new applications for SUAS, including goods delivery, infrastructure inspection, search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring. There has been limited infrastructure available to manage the widespread expansion of SUAS operations within the NAS. In response to this need, the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 established the UTM Pilot Program (UPP) to define an initial set of industry and FAA capabilities required to support UTM operations.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) envisions a safe and efficient aviation transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas. UAM will be composed of an ecosystem that considers the evolution and safety of the aircraft, the framework for operation, access to airspace, infrastructure development, and community engagement.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) builds upon the UAM concept by incorporating use cases not specific to operations in urban environments, such as:

(1) Commercial Inter-city (Longer Range/Thin Haul)

(2) Cargo Delivery

(3) Public Services

(4) Private / Recreational Vehicles

The initial UAM ecosystem will use existing helicopter infrastructure such as routes, helipads, and ATC services, where practicable given the aircraft characteristics. Looking toward the future, the FAA is working to identify infrastructure design needs for these aircraft.

 

 

S.516 – Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act  became Public Law No: 117-203 on 10/17/2022. This act directs the DOT to establish an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) interagency working group to plan and coordinate efforts related to the safety, infrastructure, physical security, cybersecurity, and federal investment necessary to bolster the AAM ecosystem, particularly passenger-carrying aircraft, in the United States. Advanced Air Mobility refers to an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places using new aircraft designs that are integrated into existing airspace operations as well as operated in local, regional, intraregional, rural, and urban environments. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office must study and report to Congress on the interests, roles, and responsibilities of federal, state, local, and tribal governments affected by AAM aircraft and operations.

 

For eVTOLs to be deployed commercially at scale, 3 core aviation regulatory approvals will be required in most jurisdictions:

1. type certification – Type certifications are the regulatory approval of the airworthiness of a particular manufacturing design (type design), and are the first step for commercialization of any eVTOL. Many companies are currently in this phase of their business plans, as they design their eVTOL aircraft and pursue a type certificate.

The first step in obtaining a type certificate for an eVTOL involves airworthiness approval of the aircraft and its components according to its type design.

Order 8110.4C – Type Certification – With Change 6

To address eVTOL type certification, the FAA applies one of two existing certification processes in 14 CFR Part 21.17(a) and (b).

Part 21.17 (a) involves the designation of applicable airworthiness standards when the aircraft closely matches the characteristics of a particular airplane or rotorcraft class, along with special conditions to address any differences.

Part 21.17(b) is used for special classes of aircraft, and the FAA will apply airworthiness requirements derived from other regulations as appropriate, in addition to other airworthiness criteria that the FAA may find to provide an equivalent level of safety to existing airworthiness requirements.

The FAA is currently working on draft policy and guidance for eVTOL type certification and has indicated that it is deciding whether the process under Part 21.17(a), using the airworthiness standards for Normal Category Airplanes under 14 CFR Part 23, or the process under Part 21.17(b) will apply to eVTOLs.

Small Airplanes Issues List (SAIL)

FAA Design Approvals

Going forward, Part 21.17(a) may offer eVTOL companies more certainty with the FAA using existing airworthiness standards if the eVTOL design closely matches the characteristics a particular airplane or rotorcraft class (e.g., Normal Category Airplanes).

The FAA has also updated the airworthiness standards in Part 23 to provide for a performance-based approach, which will offer some flexibility in the special conditions applied to eVTOLs under the Part 21.17(a) process. 83 FR 21850

Part 21.17(a) may also expedite certification transferability across jurisdictions as compared to the special class process under Part 21.17(b).

Given the unique designs of eVTOL concepts, however, type certification under Part 21.17(b) may offer eVTOL companies a greater degree of flexibility. Many current eVTOL concepts differ in significant ways from available certification requirements, and future concepts are expected to require further changes to the type certification process (e.g., automation). Some examples include unique aircraft configurations, electric distributed propulsion, energy storage and distribution systems, high voltage architecture, fly-by-wire flight control systems, advanced or automated systems, crashworthiness requirements, and noise standards. In connection with the process under Part 21.17(b), these additional certification considerations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis or through Issue Papers to provide the FAA with detailed system descriptions and an understanding of what specific systems do and what other systems they are connected with, allowing the FAA to develop the requisite standards.

FAA Order 8110.112A

2. production certification – Production certification will allow mass production of a particular eVTOL and is granted when a manufacturer can demonstrate that it can produce aircraft that will meet the standards of a type certificate.

Once a type certificate is issued, eVTOL manufacturers will need to obtain a production certificate, which requires that a manufacturer demonstrate its ability to produce the aircraft to the same standards.

3. operational authorities – To operate eVTOLs commercially by transporting passengers or cargo, additional operational requirements and authorizations for commercial operations are required.

These government approvals align with requirements for traditional commercial aircraft used in passenger and cargo operations. However, civil aviation authorities worldwide are in the process of adapting regulatory frameworks to account for fundamental differences in eVTOL technology and operations as compared to traditional aircraft.

Companies wishing to operate eVTOLs commercially must also obtain an Air Carrier Certificate from the FAA under 14 C.F.R. Part 135, which carries additional safety, maintenance, performance, and operational requirements. eVTOL operators must also obtain economic authority from the DOT to operate commercially and will be subject to associated US ownership and control requirements. Given varying requirements based on aircraft type, the FAA’s decisions around eVTOL type certification will be critical in determining the applicability of specific rules to future regulatory issues such as operations, pilots, and infrastructure, or whether new rules will be required.

14 CFR Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator Certification

Charter type services

Future eVTOL applications will include autonomous operations, without pilots, which present many of the same regulatory challenges that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) have been grappling with in recent years.

 

In September 2022, the FAA released its design guidelines for vertiports, infrastructure that will support AAM aircraft. The design standards will serve as the initial step to provide key information for airport owners, operators, and infrastructure developers to begin development of facilities that will support operations of AAM aircraft that are electrically powered and take-off and land vertically. These VTOL operations will transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes in rural, urban, and suburban areas. The design standards include critical information that designers and builders will need to follow to allow for safe takeoffs and landings. Some of those include:

(1) Safety-critical geometry and design elements: Dimensions for vertiport touchdown and liftoff areas, additional airspace needed for approach and departure paths and load-bearing capacity. In the future FAA anticipates a high rate of operations at many vertiports.

(2) Lighting, markings, and visual aids: Guidelines on markings, lighting and visual aids that identify the facility as a vertiport. The FAA recommends the Vertiport Identification Symbol, as shown in the middle of the graphic below.

(3) Charging and electric infrastructure: Initial safety standards and guidelines for batteries and charging equipment that will be central to vertiports.

(4) On-airport vertiports: Requirements for airports looking to add vertiports to an existing commercial airport, including the distance a vertiport would have to be from a current runway.

(5) Elevated vertiports: Requirements and guidelines for vertiports that may be on top of existing structures.

This vertiport guidance will be used until performance-based vertiport design guidance is developed. The final design standards are based on research conducted by the FAA, collaboration with industry partners and feedback from the public. The FAA held a virtual Industry Day on March 29, 2022, to discuss the draft standards it released in early 2022.

The FAA is including AAM and UAM in their planning efforts, and their work is organized around five areas of activity – aircraft, airspace, operations, infrastructure, and community.

 

FAA guidance – Advanced Air Mobility Infrastructure

 

In March 2023, the FAA published Engineering Brief No. 105, Vertiport Design.

Prior to this, the only other published vertiport standard was ASTM International’s F-3423, Standard Specification for Vertiport Design, which came out in August 2022.

 

The FAA is collaborating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on their Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign.

 

In March 2023, the White House released A Vision for America’s Continued Global Leadership in Aeronautics which identifies three key priority areas that will be essential to US leadership in the industry of tomorrow:

  • Achieving sustainable aviation: The Administration is committed to reducing and eventually eliminating the climate impact of aeronautics and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This includes implementing the US Aviation Climate Action Plan and the Climate Adaptation Plans across the federal government.
  • Transforming the national airspace system: The Administration is committed to transforming aviation in both urban and rural communities, creating new industries and jobs. This includes transitioning from legacy technologies, and integrating modern and emerging technologies, including drones and Advanced Air Mobility aircraft, into the national airspace system.
  • Promoting connectivity and speed: The Administration is committed to exploring new technologies that will enhance global connectivity at greater speed. This includes continued support for research and development of superior aircraft and technologies, from subsonic through hypersonic technologies, that emphasize speed.

 

On May 17, 2023, the FAA put out a Request for Information on Advanced Air Mobility

Comments closed 7-17-2023

On November 15, 2023, the FAA out out Policy on the Definition of Aeronautical Activities

Comments close 1/15/2024

 

In June 2020, FAA developed and shared the UAM Concept of Operations (ConOps) version 1.0 with both internal and external stakeholders. In April, 2023, FAA released UAM Concept of Operations (ConOps) version 2.0.

 

In July, 2023, FAA released Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Implementation Plan known as Innovate28.

 

In June 2023, the FAA Proposed Pilot Training Requirements and Operational Rules for Powered-Lift Aircraft.

Integration of Powered-Lift: Pilot Certification and Operations; Miscellaneous Amendments Related to Rotorcraft and Airplanes

The FAA took another key step toward safely enabling advanced air mobility by proposing a comprehensive rule for training and certifying pilots. “These proposed rules of the sky will safely usher in this new era of aviation and provide the certainty the industry needs to develop,” said Acting Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety David Boulter. 

New rules are necessary because many of the proposed aircraft take off and land like a helicopter but fly enroute like an airplane. The powered-lift proposed rule is designed to provide certainty to pilots and the industry on what the requirements and expectations will be to operate these aircraft once it is finalized. Under the proposed rule:

  • A clear pathway is proposed for pilots to earn powered-lift ratings specific to each type of aircraft they fly.
  • Pilots who work for powered-lift aircraft manufacturers could serve as the initial cadre of flight instructors, who could then train instructors at flight schools, training centers and air carriers.
  • To safely accelerate pilot certification, alternate eligibility criteria would enable certain pilots to meet flight-time experience requirements faster. This would apply to pilots who already hold a commercial pilot certificate and are instrument rated.
  • Powered-lift aircraft would follow the same set of operating rules as traditional aircraft that are used in private and commercial flights and air tours.

The proposal would conform to ICAO requirements, enabling US pilots to operate in other countries.

Comments closed 8-14-2023

The NPRM proposes a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that will remain in effect for 10 years after the final rule’s publication. An SFAR permits the FAA to make assumptions about technology that can later be rectified if contrary operational data is collected and allows the FAA to modify the rules over the SFAR’s life span. As a result, an SFAR enables the FAA to adapt its regulations as the industry develops, allowing critical flexibility when drafting rules related to emerging technology. It serves as a noncommittal mechanism to achieve regulatory integration without first fully knowing how the operations will work. During the SFAR’s 10-year term, the FAA would collect operational data to inform future adoption of permanent regulations. The FAA’s use of an SFAR, as opposed to more traditional regulatory frameworks, is consistent with its approach to enable other operations that were initially supported by limited data. For example, the FAA utilized an SFAR in 1975 when it permitted instrument helicopter operations pending the further collection of operational data. Thus, while the SFAR method is relatively unique, it is not unprecedented. The SFAR would be housed in a new subchapter L, “Other Special Federal Aviation Regulations,” and consist of 14 C.F.R. part 194, SFAR No. 120. In addition to this new subchapter, the NPRM also proposes permanent amendments to several existing regulatory parts, including Parts 61, 91, 135, 141, and 142.

 

Powered-lift according to 14 CFR Part 1.1 means a heavier-than-air aircraft capable of vertical takeoff, vertical landing, and low speed flight that depends principally on engine-driven lift devices or engine thrust for lift during these flight regimes and on nonrotating airfoil(s) for lift during horizontal flight.

 

FAA Proposes Rule to Enhance Safety and Performance of Light Sport Aircraft

The FAA is planning to enhance the safety and performance of Light Sport Aircraft operations. The proposed Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification (MOSAIC) rule would put performance safety standards around larger aircraft that innovators are building by expanding the definition of Light Sport Aircraft.

“This rule will encourage manufactures to make Light Sport Aircraft operations safer, more versatile and accessible while maintaining rigorous safety standards,” said Acting FAA Associate Administrator for Safety David Boulter.

Under the proposal, the aircraft’s weight limit is based on its stall speed. By permitting higher stall speeds, the proposal would bring within the Light Sport Aircraft regulatory framework aircraft weighing as much as 3,000 pounds. This more than doubles the weight of aircraft under the current definition of Light Sport of 1,320 pounds, allowing larger and stronger aircraft to qualify as Light Sport.

The proposal would also expand the type of aircraft sport pilots can operate and allows them to use their aircraft for a wider range of operations such as some aerial work. Although sport pilots could operate aircraft designed with up to four seats, they would remain limited to operating with only one passenger.

The public had 90 days to comment on the proposed rule published in the Federal Register (Comments closed October 23, 2024). The FAA will publish a final rule and respond to comments next.

 

 

Advanced Air Mobility Interagency Working Group

In October 2022, President Biden signed into law the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (the Act) and directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish the Advanced Air Mobility Interagency Working Group (AAM IWG).  The purpose of the AAM IWG is to plan for and coordinate efforts to integrate advanced air mobility aircraft into the national airspace system, particularly passenger carrying aircraft, in order to grow new transportation options, amplify economic activity and jobs, advance environmental sustainability and new technologies, and support emergency preparedness and competitiveness.

The AAM IWG is comprised of 22 members from the following Federal departments and agencies.

  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of State
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • Council of Economic Advisors
  • National Security Council
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Office of the National Cyber Director
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Department of Education

The AAM IWG will develop a national strategy that includes recommendations regarding the safety, operations, security, infrastructure, air traffic concepts, and other Federal investment or actions necessary to support the evolution of early AAM to higher levels of activity and societal benefit; and a comprehensive plan detailing the roles and responsibilities of each Federal department and agency, and of State, local, and Tribal governments, necessary to facilitate or implement the recommendations developed.

 

On February 22, 2023, the DOT began implementation of the Act which directs the Secretary of Transportation with establishing an interagency working group to develop a whole-of-government national strategy for the future of Advanced Air Mobility in the United States.

On March 21-22, 2023, DOT hosted an in-person meeting with representatives from over 15 Federal departments and agencies to develop a comprehensive work plan for the next year and ultimately deliver the AAM National Strategy in 2024 per the requirements of the law.  The team also heard presentations on existing government activities from FAA, NASA, and DOD, as well as an external analysis by NEXA Capital Partners on the economic long-term potential for the industry and the communities it may serve.

  • The interagency team will frame their work over the next year through established subgroups focused on automation strategy, security, infrastructure, air traffic, and community roles and engagement.

The interagency team plans to engage the public and a variety of stakeholders over the next few months including manufacturers and operators, aviation industry and labor stakeholders, as well as State, local, and Tribal governments. The team looks forward to those engagements and will ensure all voices are heard in building the AAM National Strategy.

 

NASA Advanced Air Mobility Partnerships

 

The Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee (AAAC) is a broad-based federal advisory committee that provides independent advice and recommendations to the FAA on key UAS and AAM integration issues, interests and policies. The AAAC‘s work relates to the efficiency and safety of integrating advance aviation technologies into the NAS.

The charter amendment modified the FAA‘s Drone Advisory Committee, renaming the committee and expanding membership from 35 to 41 members. The vacancies expand representation in current stakeholder groups to include members with an AAM background. Additionally, there is a new stakeholder group that includes a community advocate representative to provide insight and expertise on potential impacts of increased drone traffic on communities.

 

High-Density Automated Vertiport Concept of Operations

The NASA vision for AAM includes UAM – a concept involving VTOL aircraft, decentralized (or federated) traffic management, and new infrastructure to support urban, suburban, and rural flight operations. High-density performance-based routes or corridors enable prompt transportation of people and goods from node to node, where each node represents a vertiport, defined as an identifiable ground or elevated area used for the takeoff and landing of VTOL aircraft. In the presence of uncertainty surrounding aircraft turnaround time on the ground, vertiports are the critical end points in scheduling, sequencing, and spacing (SSS) of aircraft in dense metropolitan environments. This ConOps includes vertiports of varying sizes, configurations, service offerings, and locations. UAM air vehicles include conventional rotorcraft, unmanned VTOL aircraft, and novel piloted VTOL aircraft. This ConOps focuses on operations at a high-density vertiport, supported by a Vertiport Automation System (VAS) with high-throughput operation capabilities under conditions defined as NASA’s Urban Air Mobility Maturity Level Four (UML-4).

 

 

 

 

 

2021 – NASA Autonomous Systems & Robotics Roadmap and Investments

2023 – Autonomy Verification & Validation Roadmap and Vision 2045

NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

NASA ARMD Programs

NASA’s vision for AAM Mission

– to help emerging aviation markets to safely develop an air transportation system

– that moves people and cargo

– between places previously not served or underserved by aviation

– local, regional, intraregional, urban

– using revolutionary new aircraft that are only just now becoming possible

The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

– initiated the AAM Mission Integration Office during the 2020 fiscal year

– with the objective to promote flexibility and agility

– while fostering AAM mission success and

– to promote teamwork across ARMD projects contributing to the AAM Mission

The AAM Mission addresses a broad set of barriers necessary to enable AAM which will be accomplished with the contributions made by projects across the mission directorate.

Contributing projects include:

Advanced Air Mobility

Air Traffic Management eXploration

Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology

System-Wide Safety

Transformational Tools and Technologies

 

In 2018, NASA asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to undertake a study, entitled Advanced Aerial Mobility: A National Blueprint,  to evaluate the potential benefits and challenges associated with AAM, an emerging technological development that can be simultaneously transformative and disruptive for the nation’s aviation infrastructure and industry. Although the statement of task referred to UAM, while this study was under way the aviation community, and NASA itself, increasingly used the term AAM of which UAM is considered a subset (albeit the most challenging one). This committee therefore chose to use AAM to capture the broader range of opportunities and operations that are being discussed.

NASA has developed a framework for UAM Maturity Levels (UMLs), which categorizes anticipated evolutionary stages of a UAM transportation system into six levels. Each UML represents a level of maturity of the UAM ecosystem, with UML-6 representing the ubiquitous integration of UAM into daily life.

Some additional resources:

Description of the NASA Urban Air Mobility Maturity Level (UML) Scale

AAM National Campaigns (NC)

UAM Vision ConOps UAM Maturity Level (UML) – 4

The figure below shows the anticipated evolution through the UMLs.

Photo courtesy of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Each UML is characterized in terms of operational density, complexity, and reliance on automation.

Density refers to air traffic density and is defined as the number of UAM aircraft simultaneously operating at any given time within a single metropolitan area.

Complexity considers a combination of factors including maximum potential capacity (i.e., throughput) at major UAM aerodromes, weather tolerance, the distribution of UAM aerodromes, integration of aircraft types, and operational integration.

Automation reliance indicates the level of responsibility held by automated systems in the UAM system, although it is unknown if these are at an equivalent level across the entire UAM system.

 

NASA is Creating an Advanced Air Mobility Playbook

NASA is building the system to make soaring over traffic in air taxis, providing public good missions in the form of medical and emergency response by drone, receiving packages faster, and participating in a sustainable and safe mode of air transportation a reality. This new form of transportation is called Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).

 

June 21, 2023 – US DOT, Office of Inspector General – Regulatory Gaps and Lack of Consensus Hindered FAA’s Progress in Certifying Advanced Air Mobility Aircraft, and Challenges Remain

AAM is a Government and industry initiative to develop an air transportation system between and within rural and urban locations. This new technology, including highly automated hVTOL and eVTOL aircraft, promises many benefits. However, the FAA’s regulations are still primarily intended for traditional small aircraft, creating challenges for FAA. Given these challenges, the Ranking Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Subcommittee on Aviation requested this audit. OIG’s objective was to determine FAA’s progress in establishing the basis for certification of AAM aircraft, including ensuring the safety of novel features and providing guidance to applicants.

Regulatory, management, and communication issues hindered FAA’s progress in certifying AAM aircraft, and challenges remain. Given their unique features, AAM aircraft do not fully fit into FAA’s existing airworthiness standards. For over 4 years, FAA made limited progress in determining which certification path to use. One issue is that, over 2 decades ago, FAA defined an aircraft category called powered-lift that is applicable to some AAM aircraft. However, FAA never established corresponding airworthiness standards and operational regulations, leading to significant internal debates and a lack of consensus on how to proceed. This lack of consensus affected rulemaking efforts that hindered the Agency’s progress. Further, FAA changed its certification path, which caught industry by surprise. The Agency will likely continue to face challenges as it progresses through the certification process for AAM aircraft, including reviewing novel features and establishing new operational regulations. Finally, FAA has not sufficiently established policies and procedures for its Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation, or communicated about its role in AAM certification. Continued ineffective coordination and communication, as well as the lack of timely decision making and established policies, could further hinder progress.

FAA concurred with OIG’s four recommendations to enhance FAA’s regulatory efforts and communication regarding the AAM aircraft certification process. OIG considers all recommendations resolved but open pending completion of planned actions.

 

Additional resources:

2021 –  The future of Advanced Aerial Mobility

2022 – Urban Air Mobility Study: Safety Standards, Aircraft Certification, and Impact on Market Feasibility and Growth Potentials

2022 – US GAO – Transforming Aviation: Congress Should Clarify Certain Tax Exemptions for Advanced Air Mobility

2022 – US GAO – Transforming Aviation:Stakeholders Identified Issues to Address for ‘Advanced Air Mobility’

2023 – FAA UAS-AAM Integration Research Plan 2021-2026

2023 – UP.Partners – The Moving World Report

2023 – HAI – Roadmap of Advanced Air Mobility Operations

2023 – NASA: EAD thrusters offer nearly silent propulsion for AAM aircraft

 

General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)

2023 – Interoperability of Electric Charging Infrastructure – A report by the Infrastructure Subcommittee of the GAMA Electric Propulsion and Innovation Committee (EPIC) – Adoption of a unified charging standard is crucial to enabling electric aviation to scale, enhancing efficiency and sustainability in our aviation system. When electric aircraft and electric ground vehicles from different manufacturers can share charging infrastructure, everyone gains. Having one standard simplifies and improves the customer experience, and the risks and costs associated with building a network of charging stations are distributed across the industry. A common standard helps boost investment in the industry, and also encourages adoption of, and access to, publicly accessible charging networks.

 

U.S. DOT – VOLPE Center – AAM – Over the course of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center and FAA’s seven-part thought leadership series, more than 20 federal officials, experts from the private sector, academia, and non-profit organizations considered AAM in the context of safety, global competitiveness, innovation, the environment, equity, international collaboration, and workforce requirements. Throughout the series, experts discussed how to move quickly to embrace new technologies while ensuring that the aviation system of the future is safer, more efficient, equitable, and sustainable.

 

2024 – SkyGrid, NASA to collaborate on AAM integration, safety, standards

June 2024 – FAA releases Draft AC 21.17-4 Type Certification – Powered Lift – providing guidance for the type, production, and airworthiness certification of powered-lift. This AC also designates the criteria in appendix A as an acceptable means, but not the only means, of showing compliance with 14 CFR 21.17(b) for FAA type certification of certain powered-lift.

 

Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification

Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification

The FAA proposes to amend rules related to the certification and operation of light-sport category aircraft. This rule would modernize the regulatory approach to light-sport aircraft, incorporating performance-based requirements that reflect advances in technology and use cases for this type of aircraft. The proposal is designed to respond to the evolving needs of this sector and provide for future growth and innovation without compromising safety.

In 2004, the FAA published the final rule titled “Certification of Aircraft and Airmen for the Operation of Light-Sport Aircraft,” which established rules for the manufacture, certification, operation, and maintenance of light-sport aircraft (69 FR 44771; July 27, 2004) (hereafter “the 2004 final rule”). That rule provided for the operation and manufacture of aircraft weighing less than 1,320 pounds (or 1,430 pounds for aircraft intended for operation on water). These “light-sport” aircraft included airplanes, gliders, balloons, powered parachutes, weight-shift-control aircraft, and gyroplanes. The FAA bases the rigor of certification requirements and operational limitations on a safety continuum that assesses the exposure of the public to risk for each aircraft and operation; as the risk increases due to increased operating privileges and aircraft capability, the requirements and corresponding rigor of requirements and procedures for certification increase.

In establishing the 2004 final rule, the FAA intentionally established a rigor of certification for light-sport category aircraft between normal category aircraft and aircraft holding experimental certificates in view of intended operating privileges and aircraft capability. This preamble uses experimental amateur-built aircraft for the safety continuum discussions since they are similar to light-sport category aircraft in this proposal. Amateur-built aircraft are largely used for recreational purposes, are flown by sport pilots and pilots with higher grade certificates, and generally have the same flight envelope and occupancy limits. Amateur-built aircraft are below light-sport category aircraft on the safety continuum because of their lower safety assurance for aircraft design and being subject to stringent operating limitations. Amateur-built aircraft have no regulatory design requirements for suitability of materials used, structural integrity, or instruments, equipment, and systems. This proposed rule would prescribe design requirements for light-sport category aircraft for these items. This proposed rule would also allow light-sport aircraft to conduct aerial work operations that have been authorized by the manufacturer for compensation or hire. Amateur-built aircraft are limited to non-commercial operations for the purpose of education and recreation.

Since the 2004 rule, light-sport category aircraft have shown a lower accident rate than experimental amateur-built airplanes. The FAA considers that the successful safety record of light-sport category aircraft validates certification requirements established in the 2004 final rule and provides support for expanding the scope of certification for light-sport category aircraft and operations. As a result, the FAA identified this proposed rule as an opportunity to expand the 2004 final rule to include a wider variety of aircraft, increase performance, and increase operating privileges to extend these safety benefits to more aircraft. The FAA intends for these expansions to increase safety by encouraging aircraft owners, who may be deciding between an experimental aircraft or a light-sport category aircraft, to choose aircraft higher on the safety continuum and, therefore, meet higher aircraft certification requirements.

This proposed rule also addresses other aircraft that hold special airworthiness certificates. Specifically, the FAA proposes to codify additional special purpose operations for restricted category aircraft that the FAA has previously approved under discretion provided in § 21.25(b)(7). In addition, this rule would amend the duration, eligible purposes, and operating limitations for special airworthiness certificates issued for experimental purposes.

The FAA has identified proposals to improve both the safety and functionality of light-sport category aircraft and light-sport category kit-built aircraft. This rule would amend aircraft, pilot, maintenance, and operational requirements to increase both the safety and performance of these aircraft while mitigating risk. The FAA recognizes that this is a balancing act—where the risk is increased due to greater capability in one area, mitigations may be required from the other areas.

This proposal would establish performance-based requirements related to light-sport certificated aircraft. As a fundamental matter, the proposal would restructure how certification requirements for light-sport category aircraft are presented in the FAA’s regulations. Currently, issuance of special airworthiness certificates under § 21.190 for light-sport category aircraft, sport pilot certificates under part 61, subpart J, and repairman (light-sport) certificates under part 65 are limited by a number of aircraft design limitations included in the definition of light-sport aircraft in § 1.1. This proposal would remove that definition and, in its place, write performance-based standards for aircraft and airman certification into 14 CFR parts 21, 61, and 65, where these requirements for other types of aircraft and airman certification reside. This would make the FAA’s regulatory approach to light-sport category aircraft more consistent with its approach to other types of aircraft.

Another important change proposed under this rule would eliminate the weight limits for light-sport category aircraft. To enable the design and manufacture of light-sport category aircraft that are safe to fly with increased capacity and ability, this proposal would apply new design and manufacturing requirements. This would allow growth and innovation within performance-based safety parameters. This proposal also expands aircraft that sport pilots can operate. Under this proposal, sport pilots could operate airplanes designed with up to four seats, even though they would remain limited to operating with only one passenger. Finally, the proposal would change the name of the repairman certificate (light-sport aircraft) to repairman certificate (light-sport). This certificate would apply to existing and new types of aircraft certificated in the light-sport category, such as rotorcraft and powered-lift. Related provisions would update the requirements for maintenance.

The FAA is also proposing regulations related to noise for light-sport aircraft, expanding applicability of part 36 noise limits. To provide flexibility and reduce burdens of compliance with these noise limits, the FAA is proposing options for compliance: conventional noise testing per part 36 or means of compliance via FAA-approved, industry consensus standards. The FAA expects that any consensus standards would not be limited to physical measurements of noise taken during test flights. They might instead to be based on empirical data, analytical modeling, or generally accepted noise prediction methods if the underlying noise prediction methods are found to be robust.

In addition to maintenance and manufacturing requirements, the FAA also proposes to expand the kinds of operations that can be performed by light-sport category aircraft. Specifically, this proposal would permit light-sport category aircraft to be used in certain aerial work operations for aircraft that meet the applicable consensus standard for that operation.

Additionally, the FAA is proposing amendments to experimental aircraft regulations. The proposed regulations create new operating purposes for former military and kit-built aircraft and amend the operating purpose for market survey. The proposed regulations also include new operating limitations, an increased certificate duration, and new noise requirements. The FAA is further proposing amendments related to restricted category aircraft, including a codification of special operating purposes for restricted category aircraft. This NPRM also includes proposed changes to right of way and operations around airports in Class G airspace.

 

 

Counter-UAS (C-UAS) Laws

 

49 USC 44718 – Structures interfering with air commerce

FAA Order JO 7400.2M

14 CFR Part 139 and more specifically 14 CFR Part 139.333 and 14 CFR Part 139.203

Grant Assurance 20, Hazard Removal and Mitigation

Grant Assurance 29, Airport Layout Plan

Updated Information on UAS-Detection and Countermeasures Technology (Counter-UAS) at Airports, May 2019

Attachment 1, July 19, 2018, Letter From FAA Office of Airports on Guidance on Use of Counter UAS Systems at Airports

Attachment 2, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Concerning UAS Detection Systems

Attachment 3, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Detection – Technical Considerations

Section 2206 of PL 114-190, FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016

18 USC

Pen/Trap Statute – 18 USC 3121 on

Wiretap Act – 18USC 2520 on

Aircraft Sabotage Act of 1984

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986

Prohibition against interference with certain satellite operations – 18 USC 1367

49 USC

Aircraft Piracy – 49 USC 46502

 

Berlin Memo

CRDA – Cooperative Research and Development Agreements

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)2023 Security Planning Workbook

DHS

DHS S&T Seeks to Assess Kinetic Mitigation Capabilities for Countering Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology Guide – 2023

DOD

DSIAC TECHNICAL INQUIRY (TI) RESPONSE REPORT Use of Water for Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS)

FAA ADO – Airport District Office

FAA – Advisory and Rulemaking Committees – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Detection and Mitigation Systems ARC Charter

FAA ARP – Office of Airports

FAA ASH – Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety

FAA ATO – Air Traffic Organization

FAA – UAS Sightings Report

FAA – UAS Detection, Mitigation, and Response on Airports

FCC

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

INTERPOL convenes global summit on the use of dronesINTERPOL Drone Countermeasure – June 2022

NTIA

UN Counter-Terrorism and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Digital Forensics

 

Counter-UAS (C-UAS) is often described as deploying UAS detection and mitigation equipment.

Detection equipment includes radars, acoustic sensors, radio frequency (RF) sensors, and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cameras.

Mitigation equipment includes kinetic and non-kinetic technologies to disrupt, disable, or destroy a drone.

C-UAS is more than just the deployment and use of technologies, it is what defines the mission.

In the Advisory on the Application of Federal Laws to the Acquisition and Use of Technology to Detect and Mitigate Unmanned Aircraft Systems, issued in 2020, co-authored by the DOJ, DHS, FCC, and the DOT, an implied definition of C-UAS is provided as, “…using technical tools, systems, and capabilities to detect and mitigate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).” 

In 49 U.S.C. § 44801(5), a “counter-UAS system” means “a system or device capable of lawfully and safely disabling, disrupting, or seizing control of an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system.”

Although no specific term such as C-UAS is used to describe the mission in 6 U.S.C. § 124n, which provides statutory relief from provisions of Title 18 and Title 49 to the DOJ and DHS, C-UAS is characterized as the “protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft,” and “…may authorize personnel with assigned duties that include the security or protection of people, facilities, or assets” to take further actions which include:

  • Detect, identify, monitor, and track the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft without prior consent;
  • Warn the operator of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft;
  • Disrupt control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft without prior consent;
  • Seize or exercise control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft;
  • Seize or otherwise confiscate the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft;
  • Use reasonable force, if necessary, to disrupt, disable, damage, or destroy the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

 

In the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, Congress addressed C-UAS in great detail.

SEC. 364. U.S. COUNTER-UAS SYSTEM REVIEW OF INTERAGENCY COORDINATION PROCESSES.

(a) In General.–Not later than 60 days after that date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with government agencies currently authorized to operate Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) systems within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States), shall initiate a review of the following:

(1) The process the Administration is using for interagency coordination of C-UAS activity pursuant to a relevant Federal  statute authorizing such activity within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States). (2) The standards the Administration is utilizing for operation of a C-UAS systems pursuant to a relevant Federal statute authorizing such activity within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States), including whether the following criteria are being taken into consideration in the development of the standards:

(A) Safety of the national airspace.

(B) Protecting individuals and property on the ground.

(C) Non-interference with avionics of manned aircraft, and unmanned aircraft, operating legally in the national airspace.

(D) Non-interference with air traffic control systems.

(E) Adequate coordination procedures and protocols with the Federal Aviation Administration during the operation of C-UAS systems.

(F) Adequate training for personnel operating C-UAS systems.

(G) Assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and review processes to ensure national airspace safety while minimizing bureaucracy.

(H) Best practices for the consistent operation of C-UAS systems to the maximum extent practicable.

(I) Current airspace authorization information shared by automated approval processes for airspace authorizations, such as the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.

(J) Such other matters the Administrator considers necessary for the safe and lawful operation of C-UAS systems.

(3) Similar interagency coordination processes already used for other matters that may be used as a model for improving the interagency coordination for the usage of C-UAS systems.

(b) Report.–Not later than 180 days after the date upon which the review in subsection (a) is initiated, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the Senate, and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, a report on the Administration’s activities related to C-UAS systems, including–

(1) any coordination with Federal agencies and States, subdivisions and States, political authorities of at least 2 States that operate C-UAS systems;

(2) an assessment of the standards being utilized for the operation of a counter-UAS systems within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States);

(3) an assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the interagency coordination and review processes to ensure national airspace safety while minimizing bureaucracy; and

(4) a review of any additional authorities needed by the Federal Aviation Administration to effectively oversee the management of C-UAS systems within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States).

SEC. 365. COOPERATION RELATED TO CERTAIN COUNTER-UAS TECHNOLOGY.

In matters relating to the use of systems in the national airspace system intended to mitigate threats posed by errant or hostile unmanned aircraft system operations, the Secretary of Transportation shall consult with the Secretary of Defense to streamline deployment of such systems by drawing upon the expertise and experience of the Department of Defense in acquiring and operating such systems consistent with the safe and efficient operation of the national airspace system.

SEC. 366. STRATEGY FOR RESPONDING TO PUBLIC SAFETY THREATS AND ENFORCEMENT UTILITY OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) In General.–Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall develop a comprehensive strategy to provide outreach to State and local governments and provide guidance for local law enforcement agencies and first responders with respect to–

(1) how to identify and respond to public safety threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems; and

(2) how to identify and take advantage of opportunities to use unmanned aircraft systems to enhance the effectiveness of local law enforcement agencies and first responders.

(b) Resources.–Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish a publicly available Internet website that contains resources for State and local law enforcement agencies and first responders seeking–

(1) to respond to public safety threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems; and

(2) to identify and take advantage of opportunities to use unmanned aircraft systems to enhance the effectiveness of local law enforcement agencies and public safety response efforts.

(c) Unmanned Aircraft System Defined.–In this section, the term “unmanned aircraft system” has the meaning given that term in section 44801 of title 49, United States Code, as added by this Act.

SEC. 367. INCORPORATION OF FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OCCUPATIONS RELATING TO UNMANNED AIRCRAFT INTO VETERANS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS OF THE ADMINISTRATION.

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Labor, shall determine whether occupations of the Administration relating to unmanned aircraft systems technology and regulations can be incorporated into the Veterans’ Employment Program of the Administration, particularly in the interaction between such program and the New Sights Work Experience Program and the Vet-Link Cooperative Education Program.

SEC. 368. PUBLIC UAS ACCESS TO SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE.

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue guidance for the expedited and timely access to special use airspace for public unmanned aircraft systems in order to assist Federal, State, local, or tribal law enforcement organizations in conducting law enforcement, emergency response, or for other activities.

SEC. 1601. SHORT TITLE.

This division may be cited as the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018.

The Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (codified at 6 U.S. Code Section 124n) (“the Act”) authorizes the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to engage in certain counter-UAS (“C-UAS”) activities that might otherwise violate relevant provisions of federal law.

Those laws are 49 U.S.C. § 46502 (aircraft piracy), 18 U.S.C. § 32 (destruction of aircraft), 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (computer fraud and abuse), 18 U.S.C. § 1367 (interference with the operation of a satellite), and chapters 119 (interception of communications) and 206 (pen registers and trap and trace devices) of Title 18.

SEC. 1602. PROTECTION OF CERTAIN FACILITIES AND ASSETS FROM UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) In General.–Subtitle A of title II of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 121 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

SEC. 210G. PROTECTION OF CERTAIN FACILITIES AND ASSETS FROM UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) Authority.–Notwithstanding section 46502 of title 49, United States Code, or sections 32, 1030, 1367 and chapters 119 and 206 of title 18, United States Code, the Secretary and the Attorney General may, for their respective Departments, take, and may authorize personnel with assigned duties that include the security or protection of people, facilities, or assets, to take such actions as are described in subsection (b)(1) that are necessary to mitigate a credible threat (as defined by the Secretary or the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation) that an unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft poses to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.

(b) Actions Described.–

(1) In general.–The actions authorized in subsection (a) are the following:

(A) During the operation of the unmanned aircraft system, detect, identify, monitor, and track the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by means of intercept or other access of a wire communication, an oral communication, or an electronic communication used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(B) Warn the operator of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, including by passive or active, and direct or indirect physical, electronic, radio, and electromagnetic means.

(C) Disrupt control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by disabling the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft by intercepting, interfering, or causing interference with wire, oral, electronic, or radio communications used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(D) Seize or exercise control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(E) Seize or otherwise confiscate the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(F) Use reasonable force, if necessary, to disable, damage, or destroy the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(2) Required coordination.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall develop for their respective Departments the actions described in paragraph (1) in coordination with the Secretary of Transportation.

(3) Research, testing, training, and evaluation.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall conduct research, testing, training on, and evaluation of any equipment, including any electronic equipment, to determine its capability and utility prior to the use of any such technology for any action described in subsection (b)(1).

(4) Coordination.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall coordinate with the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration when any action authorized by this section might affect aviation safety, civilian aviation and aerospace operations, aircraft airworthiness, or the use of the airspace.

(c) Forfeiture.–Any unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft described in subsection (a) that is seized by the Secretary or the Attorney General is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

(d) Regulations and Guidance.–

(1) In general.–The Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Transportation may prescribe regulations and shall issue guidance in the respective areas of each Secretary or the Attorney General to carry out this section.

(2) Coordination.–

(A) Coordination with department of transportation.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall coordinate the development of their respective guidance under paragraph (1) with the Secretary of Transportation.

(B) Effect on aviation safety.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall respectively coordinate with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration before issuing any guidance, or otherwise implementing this section, if such guidance or implementation might affect aviation safety, civilian aviation and aerospace operations, aircraft airworthiness, or the use of airspace.

(e) Privacy Protection.–The regulations or guidance issued to carry out actions authorized under subsection (b) by each Secretary or the Attorney General, as the case may be, shall ensure that–

(1) the interception or acquisition of, or access to, or maintenance or use of, communications to or from an unmanned aircraft system under this section is conducted in a manner consistent with the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and applicable provisions of Federal law;

(2) communications to or from an unmanned aircraft system are intercepted or acquired only to the extent necessary to support an action described in subsection (b)(1);

(3) records of such communications are maintained only for as long as necessary, and in no event for more than 180 days, unless the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General determine that maintenance of such records is necessary to investigate or prosecute a violation of law, directly support an ongoing security operation, is required under Federal law, or for the purpose of any litigation;

(4) such communications are not disclosed outside the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice unless the disclosure–

(A) is necessary to investigate or prosecute a violation of law;

(B) would support the Department of Defense, a Federal law enforcement agency, or the enforcement activities of a regulatory agency of the Federal Government in connection with a criminal or civil investigation of, or any regulatory, statutory, or other enforcement action relating to an action described in subsection (b)(1);

(C) is between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice in the course of a security or protection operation of either agency or a joint operation of such agencies; or

(D) is otherwise required by law; and

(5) to the extent necessary, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are authorized to share threat information, which shall not include communications referred to in subsection (b), with State, local, territorial, or tribal law enforcement agencies in the course of a security or protection operation.

(f) Budget.–The Secretary and the Attorney General shall submit to Congress, as a part of the homeland security or justice budget materials for each fiscal year after fiscal year 2019, a consolidated funding display that identifies the funding source for the actions described in subsection (b)(1) within the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice. The funding display shall be in unclassified form, but may contain a classified annex.

(g) Semiannual Briefings and Notifications.–

(1) In general.–On a semiannual basis during the period beginning 6 months after the date of enactment of this section and ending on the date specified in subsection (i), the Secretary and the Attorney General shall, respectively, provide a briefing to the appropriate congressional committees on the activities carried out pursuant to this section.

(2) Requirement.–Each briefing required under paragraph (1) shall be conducted jointly with the Secretary of Transportation.

(3) Content.–Each briefing required under paragraph (1) shall include–

(A) policies, programs, and procedures to mitigate or eliminate impacts of such activities to the National Airspace System;

(B) a description of instances in which actions described in subsection (b)(1) have been taken, including all such instances that may have resulted in harm, damage, or loss to a person or to private property;

(C) a description of the guidance, policies, or procedures established to address privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties issues implicated by the actions allowed under this section, as well as any changes or subsequent efforts that would significantly affect privacy, civil rights or civil liberties;

(D) a description of options considered and steps taken to mitigate any identified impacts to the national airspace system related to the use of any system or technology, including the minimization of the use of any technology that disrupts the transmission of radio or electronic signals, for carrying out the actions described in subsection (b)(1);

(E) a description of instances in which communications intercepted or acquired during the course of operations of an unmanned aircraft system were held for more than 180 days or shared outside of the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security;

(F) how the Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Transportation have informed the public as to the possible use of authorities under this section;

(G) how the Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Transportation have engaged with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to implement and use such authorities.

(4) Unclassified form.–Each briefing required under paragraph (1) shall be in unclassified form, but may be accompanied by an additional classified briefing.

(5) Notification.–Within 30 days of deploying any new technology to carry out the actions described in subsection (b)(1), the Secretary and the Attorney General shall, respectively, submit a notification to the appropriate congressional committees. Such notification shall include a description of options considered to mitigate any identified impacts to the national airspace system related to the use of any system or technology, including the minimization of the use of any technology that disrupts the transmission of radio or electronic signals, for carrying out the actions described in subsection (b)(1).

(h) Rule of Construction.–Nothing in this section may be construed to–

(1) vest in the Secretary or the Attorney General any authority of the Secretary of Transportation or the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration;

(2) vest in the Secretary of Transportation or the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration any authority of the Secretary or the Attorney General;

(3) vest in the Secretary of Homeland Security any authority of the Attorney General;

(4) vest in the Attorney General any authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security; or

(5) provide a new basis of liability for any State, local, territorial, or tribal law enforcement officers who participate in the protection of a mass gathering identified by the Secretary or Attorney General under subsection (k)(3)(C)(iii)(II), act within the scope of their authority, and do not exercise the authority granted to the Secretary and Attorney General by this section.

(i) Termination.–The authority to carry out this section with respect to a covered facility or asset specified in subsection (k)(3) shall terminate on the date that is 4 years after the date of enactment of this section.

(j) Scope of Authority.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to provide the Secretary or the Attorney General with additional authorities beyond those described in subsections (a) and (k)(3)(C)(iii).

(k) Definitions.–In this section:

(1) The term `appropriate congressional committees’ means–

(A) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Homeland Security, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.

(2) The term `budget’, with respect to a fiscal year, means the budget for that fiscal year that is submitted to Congress by the President under section 1105(a) of title 31.

(3) The term `covered facility or asset’ means any facility or asset that–

(A) is identified as high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity by the Secretary or the Attorney General, in coordination with the Secretary of Transportation with respect to potentially impacted airspace, through a risk-based assessment for purposes of this section (except that in the case of the missions described in subparagraph (C)(i)(II) and (C)(iii)(I), such missions shall be presumed to be for the protection of a facility or asset that is assessed to be high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity);

(B) is located in the United States (including the territories and possessions, territorial seas or navigable waters of the United States); and

(C) directly relates to one or more–

(i) missions authorized to be performed by the Department of Homeland Security, consistent with governing statutes, regulations, and orders issued by the Secretary, pertaining to– 

(I) security or protection functions of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including securing or protecting facilities, aircraft, and vessels, whether moored or underway;

(II) United States Secret Service protection operations pursuant to sections 3056(a) and 3056A(a) of title 18, United States Code, and the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976 (18 U.S.C. 3056 note); or

(III) protection of facilities pursuant to section 1315(a) of title 40, United States Code;

(ii) missions authorized to be performed by the Department of Justice, consistent with governing statutes, regulations, and orders issued by the Attorney General, pertaining to–

(I) personal protection operations by–

(aa) the Federal Bureau of Investigation as specified in section 533 of title 28, United States Code; and

(bb) the United States Marshals Service of Federal jurists, court officers, witnesses, and other threatened persons in the interests of justice, as specified in section 566(e)(1)(A) of title 28, United States Code;

(II) protection of penal, detention, and correctional facilities and operations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons; or

(III) protection of the buildings and grounds leased, owned, or operated by or for the Department of Justice, and the provision of security for Federal courts, as specified in section 566(a) of title 28, United States Code;

(iii) missions authorized to be performed by the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice, acting together or separately, consistent with governing statutes, regulations, and orders issued by the Secretary or the Attorney General, respectively, pertaining to–

(I) protection of a National Special Security Event and Special Event Assessment Rating event;

(II) the provision of support to State, local, territorial, or tribal law enforcement, upon request of the chief executive officer of the State or territory, to ensure protection of people and property at mass gatherings, that is limited to a specified timeframe and location, within available resources, and without delegating any authority under this section to State, local, territorial, or tribal law enforcement; or

(III) protection of an active Federal law enforcement investigation, emergency response, or security function, that is limited to a specified timeframe and location; and

(iv) missions authorized to be performed by the United States Coast Guard, including those described in clause (iii) as directed by the Secretary, and as further set forth in section 104 of title 14, United States Code, and consistent with governing statutes, regulations, and orders issued by the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating.

(4) The terms `electronic communication’, `intercept’, `oral communication’, and `wire communication’ have the meaning given those terms in section 2510 of title 18, United States Code.

(5) The term `homeland security or justice budget materials’, with respect to a fiscal year, means the materials submitted to Congress by the Secretary and the Attorney General in support of the budget for that fiscal year.

(6) For purposes of subsection (a), the term `personnel’ means officers and employees of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice.

(7) The terms `unmanned aircraft’ and `unmanned aircraft system’ have the meanings given those terms in section 44801, of title 49, United States Code.

(8) For purposes of this section, the term `risk-based assessment’ includes an evaluation of threat information specific to a covered facility or asset and, with respect to potential impacts on the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system and the needs of law enforcement and national security at each covered facility or asset identified by the Secretary or the Attorney General, respectively, of each of the following factors:

(A) Potential impacts to safety, efficiency, and use of the national airspace system, including potential effects on manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems, aviation safety, airport operations, infrastructure, and air navigation services related to the use of any system or technology for carrying out the actions described in subsection (b)(1).

(B) Options for mitigating any identified impacts to the national airspace system related to the use of any system or technology, including minimizing when possible the use of any technology which disrupts the transmission of radio or electronic signals, for carrying out the actions described in subsection (b)(1).

(C) Potential consequences of the impacts of any actions taken under subsection (b)(1) to the national airspace system and infrastructure if not mitigated.

(D) The ability to provide reasonable advance notice to aircraft operators consistent with the safety of the national airspace system and the needs of law enforcement and national security.

(E) The setting and character of any covered facility or asset, including whether it is located in a populated area or near other structures, whether the facility is open to the public, whether the facility is also used for nongovernmental functions, and any potential for interference with wireless communications or for injury or damage to persons or property.

(F) The setting, character, timeframe, and national airspace system impacts of National Special Security Event and Special Event Assessment Rating events. 

(G) Potential consequences to national security, public safety, or law enforcement if threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems are not mitigated or defeated.

(l) Department of Homeland Security Assessment.–

(1) Report.–Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary shall conduct, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Transportation, an assessment to the appropriate congressional committees, including–

(A) an evaluation of the threat from unmanned aircraft systems to United States critical infrastructure (as defined in this Act) and to domestic large hub airports (as defined in section 40102 of title 49, United States Code);

(B) an evaluation of current Federal and State, local, territorial, or tribal law enforcement authorities to counter the threat identified in subparagraph (A), and recommendations, if any, for potential changes to existing authorities to allow State, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement to assist Federal law enforcement to counter the threat where appropriate;

(C) an evaluation of the knowledge of, efficiency of, and effectiveness of current procedures and resources available to owners of critical infrastructure and domestic large hub airports when they believe a threat from unmanned aircraft systems is present and what additional actions, if any, the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Transportation could implement under existing authorities to assist these entities to counter the threat identified in subparagraph (A);

(D) an assessment of what, if any, additional authorities are needed by each Department and law enforcement to counter the threat identified in subparagraph (A); and

(E) an assessment of what, if any, additional research and development the Department needs to counter the threat identified in subparagraph (A).

(2) Unclassified form.–The report required under paragraph (1) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may contain a classified annex.

(b) Clerical Amendment.–The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 210F the following:

Sec. 210G. Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft.

SEC. 1603. PROTECTING AGAINST UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) In General.–Chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 103 the following:

Sec. 104. Protecting against unmanned aircraft

For the purposes of section 210G(k)(3)(C)(iv) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the missions authorized to be performed by the United States Coast Guard shall be those related to–

(1) functions of the U.S. Coast Guard relating to security or protection of facilities and assets assessed to be high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity, including the security and protection of– 

(A) a facility, including a facility that is under the administrative control of the Commandant; and

(B) a vessel (whether moored or underway) or an aircraft, including a vessel or aircraft–

(i) that is operated by the Coast Guard, or that the Coast Guard is assisting or escorting; and

(ii) that is directly involved in a mission of the Coast Guard pertaining to–

(I) assisting or escorting a vessel of the Department of Defense;

(II) assisting or escorting a vessel of national security significance, a high interest vessel, a high capacity passenger vessel, or a high value unit, as those terms are defined by the Secretary;

(III) section 91(a) of this title;

(IV) assistance in protecting the President or the Vice President (or other officer next in order of succession to the Office of the President) pursuant to the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976 (18 U.S.C. 3056 note);

(V) protection of a National Special Security Event and Special Event Assessment Rating events;

(VI) air defense of the United States, including air sovereignty, ground-based air defense, and the National Capital Region integrated air defense system; or

(VII) a search and rescue operation; and

(2) missions directed by the Secretary pursuant to 210G(k)(3)(C)(iii) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

(b) Clerical Amendment.–The analysis for chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 103 the following:

104. Protecting against unmanned aircraft.

According to their website on DHS C-UAS, the rapid increase in the availability and sophistication of UAS represents a significant challenge, as their capabilities progress faster than the ability to assess and mitigate the threat posed by nefarious small UAS. The Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) program assesses C-UAS technologies both in laboratory and real-world operational environments and assists DHS Components in: developing and refining requirements, completing the Congressionally mandated 6 USC 124n process to test and evaluate prototype C-UAS capabilities at a covered asset or mission, and in executing limited-duration C-UAS technology pilots at DHS Component locations. The program also guides the development of new and innovative technologies to deliver critical C-UAS capabilities to DHS Components.

The DHS is working within the C-UAS industry. The rapid increase in the availability and sophistication of UAS represents a significant challenge, as their capabilities progress faster than the ability to assess and mitigate potential threats. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) C-UAS Program is assessing C-UAS technologies and guiding the development of new capabilities for the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE). The program supports requirements documentation, rapid development, system integration, and specification and performance testing based on the C-UAS needs and requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Protective Service (FPS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

On August 17, 2020, the DOJ, FAA, DHS, and FCC issued an advisory guidance document to help non-federal public and private entities better understand the federal laws and regulations that may apply to the use of capabilities to detect and mitigate threats posed by UAS operations.
49 U.S.C. § 44810
49 U.S.C. Section 44810 requires the FAA to work with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies for the purpose of ensuring that technologies or systems that are developed, tested, or deployed by Federal departments and agencies to detect and mitigate potential risks posed by errant or hostile unmanned aircraft system operations do not adversely impact or interfere with safe airport operations, navigation, air traffic services, or the safe and efficient operation of the national airspace system.
49 U.S. Code § 44810

§ 44810. Airport safety and airspace hazard mitigation and enforcement

(a)Coordination.—

(b)Plan.—

(1)In general.—The Administrator shall develop a plan for the certification, permitting, authorizing, or allowing of the deployment of technologies or systems for the detection and mitigation of unmanned aircraft systems.
(2)Contents.—The plan shall provide for the development of policies, procedures, or protocols that will allow appropriate officials of the Federal Aviation Administration to utilize such technologies or systems to take steps to detect and mitigate potential airspace safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft system operations.
(3)Aviation rulemaking committee.—The Administrator shall charter an aviation rulemaking committee to make recommendations for such a plan and any standards that the Administrator determines may need to be developed with respect to such technologies or systems. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to an aviation rulemaking committee chartered under this paragraph.
(4)Non-delegation.—The plan shall not delegate any authority granted to the Administrator under this section to other Federal, State, local, territorial, or tribal agencies, or an airport sponsor, as defined in SECTION 47102 OF TITLE 49, United States Code.
(c)Airspace Hazard Mitigation Program.—In order to test and evaluate technologies or systems that detect and mitigate potential aviation safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft, the Administrator shall deploy such technologies or systems at 5 airports, including 1 airport that ranks in the top 10 of the FAA’s most recent Passenger Boarding Data.
(d)Authority.—Under the testing and evaluation in subsection (c), the Administrator shall use unmanned aircraft detection and mitigation systems to detect and mitigate the unauthorized operation of an unmanned aircraft that poses a risk to aviation safety.
(e)AIP Funding Eligibility.—Upon the certification, permitting, authorizing, or allowing of such technologies and systems that have been successfully tested under this section, an airport sponsor may apply for a grant under subchapter I of chapter 471 to purchase an unmanned aircraft detection and mitigation system. For purposes of this subsection, purchasing an unmanned aircraft detection and mitigation system shall be considered airport development (as defined in section 47102).

(f)Briefing.—The Administrator shall annually brief the appropriate committees of Congress, including the Committee on Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate, on the implementation of this section.

(g)Applicability of Other Laws.—SECTION 46502 OF THIS TITLESECTION 32 OF TITLE 18, United States Code (commonly known as the Aircraft Sabotage Act), SECTION 1031 OF TITLE 18, United States Code (commonly known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986) sections 2510–2522 of title 18, United States Code (commonly known as the Wiretap Act), and sections 3121–3127 of title 18, United States Code (commonly known as the Pen/Trap Statute), shall not apply to activities authorized by the Administrator pursuant to subsection

(c) and (d).
(h)Sunset.—This section ceases to be effective September 30, 2023.
(i)Non-delegation.—The Administrator shall not delegate any authority granted to the Administrator under this section to other Federal, State, local, territorial, or tribal agencies, or an airport sponsor, as defined in SECTION 47102 OF TITLE 49, United States Code. The Administrator may partner with other Federal agencies under this section, subject to any restrictions contained in such agencies’ authority to operate counter unmanned aircraft systems.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – Counter UAS Legal Authorities Fact Sheet

 

On April 25, 2022, The White House issued this FACT SHEET: The Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan. It stated that although UAS have become a regular feature of American life and are used for recreation, research, and commerce, the proliferation of this new technology has also introduced new risks to public safety, privacy, and homeland security. Malicious actors have increasingly used UAS domestically to commit crimes, conduct illegal surveillance and industrial espionage, and thwart law enforcement efforts at the local, state, and Federal level. Therefore, the Biden Administration released the first whole-of-government plan to address UAS threats in the Homeland. Through the Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan, the Administration is now working to expand where they can protect against nefarious UAS activity, who is authorized to take action, and how it can be accomplished lawfully. The Plan seeks to achieve this legitimate expansion while safeguarding the airspace, communications spectrums, individual privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. To achieve this balance, the Administration called upon Congress to adopt legislation to close critical gaps in existing law and policy that currently impede government and law enforcement from protecting the American people and their vital security interests. UAS serve many beneficial commercial and recreational purposes. As has been the case with many technological advances, they can also be exploited for pernicious purposes. To protect the Homeland and prevent their growing use from threatening the safety and security of the people, communities, and institutions, this Counter-UAS National Action Plan will set new ground rules for the expanding uses of UAS and improve the defenses against the exploitation of UAS for inappropriate or dangerous purposes. The Plan provides eight key recommendations for action:

1. Work with Congress to enact a new legislative proposal to expand the set of tools and actors who can protect against UAS by reauthorizing and expanding existing counter‑UAS authorities for the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and NASA in limited situations. The proposal also seeks to expand UAS detection authorities for state, local, territorial and Tribal (SLTT) law enforcement agencies and critical infrastructure owners and operators.  The proposal would also create a Federally-sponsored pilot program for selected SLTT law enforcement agency participants to perform UAS mitigation activities and permit critical infrastructure owners and operators to purchase authorized equipment to be used by appropriate Federal or SLTT law enforcement agencies to protect their facilities;

2. Establish a list of US Government authorized detection equipment, approved by Federal security and regulatory agencies, to guide authorized entities in purchasing UAS detection systems in order to avoid the risks of inadvertent disruption to airspace or the communications spectrum;

3. Establish oversight and enablement mechanisms to support critical infrastructure owners and operators in purchasing counter-UAS equipment for use by authorized Federal entities or SLTT law enforcement agencies;

4. Establish a National Counter-UAS Training Center to increase training accessibility and promote interagency cross-training and collaboration;

5. Create a Federal UAS incident tracking database as a government-wide repository for departments and agencies to have a better understanding of the overall domestic threat;

6. Establish a mechanism to coordinate research, development, testing, and evaluation on UAS detection and mitigation technology across the Federal government;

7. Work with Congress to enact a comprehensive criminal statute that sets clear standards for legal and illegal uses, closes loopholes in existing Federal law, and establishes adequate penalties to deter the most serious UAS-related crimes; and

8. Enhance cooperation with the international community on counter‑UAS technologies, as well as the systems designed to defeat them.

When it comes to the DOD and C-UAS, the primary purpose of the DoD domestic aviation operations are to support Homeland Defense (HD) and Defense Support of Civilian Authorities (DSCA) operations, and military training and exercises. While manned aircraft primarily support these missions, the operational use of DoD UAS, in lieu of manned aircraft may be appropriate for some domestic mission sets, when sustained endurance efforts are required; unmanned aircraft provide superior capabilities; or physical infrastructure limitations prohibit the use of manned rotary or fixed-winged aircraft.

Since 2006, DoD has had very specific and stringent guidance on the domestic use of DoD UAS. On occasion, DoD operates UAS domestically in support of a request from Federal or State civilian authorities. DoD only conducts these operations with the approval of the Secretary of Defense, who in 2018, delegated the approval of the use of smaller UAS to the Secretaries of the Military Departments, or the Geographic Combatant Commander where smaller UAS use supports Force Protection and Defense Support of Civil Authorities. This policy direction is set out in the Secretary of Defense Policy Memorandum titled Guidance for the Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in U.S. National Airspace. This guidance also states that armed DOD UAS may not be used in the US except for training, exercises, and testing purposes. Additionally, in recognition of the potential value of UAS, the Secretary of Defense has authorized State Governors to use smaller UAS by State National Guard units conducting Search and Rescue, and Incident and Awareness and Assessment missions, while in a State Active Duty status.

The primary purpose, and large majority, of DoD domestic UAS operations is for DoD forces to gain realistic training experience, test equipment and tactics in preparation for potential overseas warfighting missions, which occasionally also contributes DSCA training and exercises. DoD has logged millions of UAS flight hours worldwide. This extensive experience is the foundation of the Department’s careful adherence to aviation safety policies and procedures regarding both manned and unmanned aircraft. The DoD fields DoD UAS across all four Services, including the National Guard. The Department currently operates more than 11,000 UAS in support of domestic training events and overseas contingency missions. These aircraft range in size from the small RQ-11B Raven to the largest RQ/MQ-4 Global Hawk/Triton, which weighs more than 32,000 pounds.

DoD UAS currently do not have direct access to the NAS, unlike manned aircraft. In order for DoD UAS to operate in the NAS, the DoD is required to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA. A COA allows DoD UAS to fly pre-coordinated flight routes to DoD special use airspace.

The vast majority of DoD UAS training is conducted in airspace delegated by the FAA for DoD use. Airspace delegated by the FAA for DoD use includes Special Use Airspace delegated by the FAA for DoD use (SUA), temporary Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace Areas (ATCAA), airspace above land with express permission of the landowner or government-owned or -leased land as permitted by DoD-FAA MOA, US National Airspace delegated by the FAA for DoD use to provide air traffic services, US National Airspace under an approved FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), and airspace delegated by the FAA and coordinated with DoD for permanent, long-term and short-term requirements.

Upon DoD request, the FAA may issue a Class G COA via notification for low-altitude training operations in uncontrolled airspace. Class G COA via notification are issued for small-UAS that operate over government land, government-leased land or with permission of the landowner while the operator maintains sight of the aircraft.

You can read more about DOD – C-UAS Strategy. the Blue UAS is a holistic and continuous approach to rapidly prototyping and scaling capable and secure commercial UAS technology for the DoD. Here is the Blue SUAS List.

AUVSI, to provide the civilian counterpart to this, has launched Green UAS, that builds on Blue UAS to serve the non-defense drone community and bolsters the drone manufacturing base. Green UAS is the first product of AUVSI’s broader Trusted Cyber Program, which AUVSI launched in August 2022 with collaboration from AUVSI members and Fortress Information Security, a leading cybersecurity firm with experience in industry-led cyber standards development.

The assessment process is administered by AUVSI — the world’s largest nonprofit for drones and autonomous systems — in collaboration with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). AUVSI will work with a network of cybersecurity firms to rapidly vet drones that are seeking Green UAS certification using frameworks that address threats and cyber risks in the areas of corporate cyber hygiene, product and device security, supply chain risk management, and for drones that are not seeking to go from Green to Blue, remote operations and connectivity.

Green compliant drones that have a DoD customer/sponsor willing to sponsor and fund a DoD Authority to Operate (ATO) will have the opportunity to transition from the Green UAS cleared list to Blue UAS cleared list.

 

10 U.S.C. Section 130i

10 U.S.C. Section 130i authorizes the US DOD to engage in certain C-UAS activities that might otherwise violate relevant provisions of federal law.

Those laws are 49 U.S.C. § 46502 (aircraft piracy), 18 U.S.C. § 32 (destruction of aircraft), 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (computer fraud and abuse), 18 U.S.C. § 1367 (interference with the operation of a satellite), and chapters 119 (interception of communications) and 206 (pen registers and trap and trace devices) of Title 18.

10 U.S.C. Section 130i is related to covered facilities or assets as identified by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation.  The covered facilities or assets are located in the United States, to include territories and possessions.

10 USC §130i. Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft

(a) Authority.—Notwithstanding any provision of title 18, the Secretary of Defense may take, and may authorize the armed forces to take, such actions described in subsection (b)(1) that are necessary to mitigate the threat (as defined by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation) that an unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft poses to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.

(b) Actions Described.—(1) The actions described in this paragraph are the following:

(A) Detect, identify, monitor, and track the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by means of intercept or other access of a wire, oral, or electronic communication used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(B) Warn the operator of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, including by passive or active, and direct or indirect physical, electronic, radio, and electromagnetic means.

(C) Disrupt control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by disabling the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft by intercepting, interfering, or causing interference with wire, oral, electronic, or radio communications used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(D) Seize or exercise control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(E) Seize or otherwise confiscate the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(F) Use reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(2) The Secretary of Defense shall develop the actions described in paragraph (1) in coordination with the Secretary of Transportation.

(c) Forfeiture.—Any unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft described in subsection (a) that is seized by the Secretary of Defense is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

(d) Regulations.—The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation may prescribe regulations and shall issue guidance in the respective areas of each Secretary to carry out this section.

(e) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) The term “covered facility or asset” means any facility or asset that—

(A) is identified by the Secretary of Defense for purposes of this section;

(B) is located in the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States); and

(C) relates to—

(i) the nuclear deterrence mission of the Department of Defense, including with respect to nuclear command and control, integrated tactical warning and attack assessment, and continuity of government;

(ii) the missile defense mission of the Department; or

(iii) the national security space mission of the Department.

(2) The terms “unmanned aircraft” and “unmanned aircraft system” have the meanings given those terms in section 331 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note).

Interagency Security Committee – Protecting against the threat of UAS – 2020 – One of the priorities of the DHS is the protection of federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit federally-owned or -leased facilities. The Interagency Security Committee (ISC), chaired by the DHS, consists of 64 departments and agencies and has a mission to develop security policies, standards, and recommendations for nonmilitary federal facilities in the US. This document, known as Protecting Against the Threat of UAS: An Interagency Security Committee Best Practice, outlines awareness and mitigation measures for use by federal departments and agencies to protect against malicious UAS operations. Topics covered in this document include the following:

• An overview of UAS;

• Threats posed by UAS;

• Vulnerability assessments;

• Protective measures and activities;

• How to develop a facility response plan for UAS incidents;

• How to increase workforce awareness; and

• How to engage with community partners.

Although most agencies do not have the authority to disable, disrupt, or seize control of an unmanned aircraft, there are other effective risk reduction measures they may implement. This document provides best practices that any organization or facility can use to mitigate UAS threats. This document represents exemplary collaboration within the ISC Unmanned Aircraft Systems Working Group and across the entire ISC.

 

50 USC 2661

50 U.S.C. Section 2661 authorizes the US DOE to engage in certain C-UAS activities that might otherwise violate relevant provisions of federal law.

Those laws are 49 U.S.C. § 46502 (aircraft piracy), 18 U.S.C. § 32 (destruction of aircraft), 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (computer fraud and abuse), 18 U.S.C. § 1367 (interference with the operation of a satellite), and chapters 119 (interception of communications) and 206 (pen registers and trap and trace devices) of Title 18.

50 USC 2661

§ 2661. Protection of certain nuclear facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft

(a) Authority Notwithstanding any provision of title 18, the Secretary of Energy may take such actions described in subsection (b)(1) that are necessary to mitigate the threat (as defined by the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation) that an unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft poses to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.

(b) Actions described

(1) The actions described in this paragraph are the following:

(A) Detect, identify, monitor, and track the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by means of intercept or other access of a wire, oral, or electronic communication used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(B) Warn the operator of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, including by passive or active, and direct or indirect physical, electronic, radio, and electromagnetic means.

(C) Disrupt control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft, without prior consent, including by disabling the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft by intercepting, interfering, or causing interference with wire, oral, electronic, or radio communications used to control the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(D) Seize or exercise control of the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(E) Seize or otherwise confiscate the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(F) Use reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

(2) The Secretary of Energy shall develop the actions described in paragraph (1) in coordination with the Secretary of Transportation.

(c) Forfeiture Any unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft described in subsection (a) that is seized by the Secretary of Energy is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

(d) Regulations The Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Transportation may prescribe regulations and shall issue guidance in the respective areas of each Secretary to carry out this section.

(e) Definitions In this section:

(1) The term ‘‘covered facility or asset’’ means any facility or asset that is—

(A) identified by the Secretary of Energy for purposes of this section;

(B) located in the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States); and

(C) owned by the United States or contracted to the United States, to store or use special nuclear material.

(2) The terms ‘‘unmanned aircraft’’ and ‘‘unmanned aircraft system’’ have the meanings given those terms in section 331 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 1 note).

Jan 2021 – Executive Order – Protecting the United States From Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Section 383 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 mandated the FAA ensure that technologies or systems that are developed, tested, or deployed by authorized federal departments and agencies to detect and mitigate potential risks posed by errant or hostile UAS or drone operations do not adversely impact or interfere with the safe and efficient operation of the NAS. In addition, Section 383 requires the FAA to develop a plan for the certification, permitting, authorizing, or allowing of UAS detection and mitigation systems in the NAS, and to convene an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to make recommendations for such a plan.

Consistent with Section 383, the FAA launched an effort to test and evaluate technologies and systems that could detect and mitigate potential safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft at and near airports.

On March 2, 2021, the FAA selected the following airports to participate in the testing program:

  • Atlantic City International Airport, Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Syracuse, New York
  • Rickenbacker International Airport, Columbus, Ohio
  • Huntsville International Airport, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, Washington

The research will lead to the implementation of new technologies that will make airports safer for passengers and traditional, crewed aircraft. Researchers plan to test and evaluate at least 10 technologies or systems at these airports. Testing began in 2022 and continues through 2023. The results from this testing and evaluation effort will inform other components of Section 383, including the ARC and the plan for certifying, permitting, or authorizing UAS detection and mitigation technologies at airports around the country.

 

Order JO 7210.3CC – Facility Operation and Administration

2−1−34. USE OF COUNTER UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (C−UAS)

Airport owners/operators or local enforcement may contact ATC facilities to coordinate their acquisition, testing, and operational use of UAS detection systems. These systems and how they are used may have implications for FAA regulations for airports; potentially affect ATC and other Air Navigation Services systems (e.g., RF interference with radars); and/or trigger airport responses (e.g., closing runways), which must be coordinated with ATC.

a. Requests by airport authorities for ATC facility cooperation/authorization in the acquisition, testing, or use of UAS detection systems will be referred to the appropriate FAA Airports District Office (ADO). The ADO will initiate internal FAA coordination, including reviews by the responsible ATO offices and facilities.

b. ATC facilities must not enter into any verbal or written agreement with a commercial vendor or an airport authority regarding UAS detection capabilities without prior coordination and approval from HQ−AJT−0.

NOTE− 1. UAS detection systems do not include the interdiction components that characterize UAS mitigation technologies, also referred to as Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (C−UAS) technologies. Only select Federal Departments and Agencies have the legal authority to use C−UAS systems in the NAS. The FAA does not support the use of this technology by other entities without this legal authorization.

2. The FAA does not advocate the use of UAS detection in the airport environment until appropriate policy and procedures are developed.

2−1−35. USE OF COUNTER UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (C−UAS)

Select Departments and Agencies, which have been legally authorized to use this technology, are operationally using Counter Unmanned Aircraft System systems (C−UAS) in the NAS to protect certain facilities and assets. C−UAS systems are capable of disabling, disrupting, or seizing control of a suspicious UAS, and may integrate or be linked to UAS detection capabilities. These Departments and Agencies are required to coordinate with the FAA to assess and mitigate risks to the NAS posed by these C−UAS systems. These systems and their deployment may affect ATC and other Air Navigation Services systems (e.g., RF interference with radars); which could impact other air traffic in the vicinity including legitimate, compliant UAS flights. Additionally, the C−UAS may involve the response and deployment of ground/airborne operational security assets, which must be coordinated with ATC.

a. The Joint Air Traffic Operations Command (JATOC) Air Traffic Security Coordinator (ATSC) team, which manages the Domestic Events Network (DEN), must notify affected ATC facilities when C−UAS systems are activated.

NOTE− Only select Federal Departments/Agencies have been legally authorized to utilize C−UAS to cover certain facilities and assets, and with coordination with the FAA to address risks to the NAS. Risk mitigation for the NAS typically includes notification to potentially affected ATC facilities.

b. The DEN must alert all ATC facilities affected by C−UAS deployment and JATOC National Operations Control Center (NOCC) of any possible operational impacts.

1. The alerts will focus on real−time reporting regarding possible operational impacts of C−UAS activities providing the affected facilities with heightened awareness to potential flight and equipment anomalies; and will allow the facilities to take actions needed to sustain safe operations.

2. The alerts must be made via landline communications and must not be broadcast over radios, shout lines, or direct dial lines to air traffic controllers on position.

3. The affected ATC facilities must not discuss C−UAS operations with any outside entity.

 

47 USC 301

PART 301 – RELOCATION OF AND SPECTRUM SHARING BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STATIONS

Authority: National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act, 47 U.S.C. 901 et seq., as amended by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112–96, Title VI, Subtitle G, 126 Stat. 245 (Feb. 22, 2012) (47 U.S.C. 923(g)–(l), 928) and the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015, Title X of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114–74, 129 Stat. 621 (Nov. 5, 2015) (47 U.S.C. 923, 928).
Source: 78 FR 5315, Jan. 25, 2013, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A – General Information

§ 301.1 Purpose.

The purpose of this part is to set forth procedures for the Technical Panel and Dispute Resolution Board as required pursuant to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (hereinafter “NTIA Organization Act”), as amended (47 U.S.C. 923(g)–(l) and 928).

[81 FR 3338, Jan. 21, 2016]

§ 301.10 Cross-reference.

The Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management (hereinafter referred to as the “NTIA Manual”) issued by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, is incorporated by reference in § 300.1 of this chapter and available online at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/redbook/redbook.html. Annex O of the NTIA Manual, as revised, contains information, policies and procedures applicable to Federal agencies that implement the statutory provisions referenced in § 301.1 of this subpart with regard to such agencies that operate authorized U.S. Government stations in Eligible Frequencies and that incur relocation costs or sharing costs because of planning for an auction or the reallocation of such frequencies from Federal use to exclusive non-Federal use or to shared use. The NTIA Manual applies only to Federal agencies and does not impact the rights or obligations of the public. Accordingly, this cross reference is for information purposes only.

§ 301.20 Definitions.

Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information.

Auction means the competitive bidding process through which licenses are assigned by the Commission under section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)).

Commission means the Federal Communications Commission.

Dispute Resolution Board means any board established pursuant to section 113(i) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(i)) and subpart C of this part.

Eligible Federal Entity means any Federal Entity that:

(1) Operates a U.S. Government station; and

(2) That incurs relocation costs or sharing costs because of planning for an auction of eligible spectrum frequencies or the reallocation of eligible spectrum frequencies from Federal use to exclusive non-Federal use or to shared use.

Eligible frequencies means any band of frequencies reallocated from Federal use to non-Federal use or to shared use after January 1, 2003, that is assigned by auction.

Federal Entity means any department, agency, or other instrumentality of the Federal Government that utilizes a Government station license obtained under section 305 of the 1934 Act (47 U.S.C. 305). [47 U.S.C. 923(l)]

Non-Federal user means a Commission licensee authorized to use Eligible Frequencies or a winning bidder in a Commission auction for Eligible Frequencies that has fulfilled the Commission’s requirements for filing a long-form license application and remitting its final bid payment.

NTIA means the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

NTIA Manual means the Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management issued by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and incorporated by reference in § 300.1 of this chapter (47 CFR 300.1).

OMB means the Office of Management and Budget.

Spectrum Pipeline Plan means a plan submitted by a Federal Entity pursuant to section 118(g)(2)(E)(i) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 928(g)(2)(E)(i)).

Technical Panel means the panel established by section 113(h)(3)(A) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(3)(A)) and governed by subpart B of this part.

Transition Plan means the plan submitted by a Federal Entity pursuant to section 113(h)(1) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(1).

[78 FR 5315, Jan. 25, 2013, as amended at 81 FR 3338, Jan. 21, 2016]

§ 301.30 Address for submissions to the Technical Panel and Dispute Resolution Board.

Submissions to the Technical Panel and the Dispute Resolution Board under this section shall be made to the Office of the Assistant Secretary, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

[81 FR 3338, Jan. 21, 2016]

Subpart B – Technical Panel

§ 301.100 Membership.

(a) Technical Panel membership. The Technical Panel established by section 113(h)(3)(A) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(3)(A)) shall be composed of three (3) members, to be appointed as follows:

(1) One member to be appointed by the Director of OMB;

(2) One member to be appointed by the Assistant Secretary, with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce; and

(3) One member to be appointed by the Chairman of the Commission.

(b) Qualifications.

(1) Each member of the Technical Panel shall be a radio engineer or a technical expert.

(2) The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the Chairman of the Commission, may impose or suggest additional qualifications for one or more members of the Technical Panel as are necessary pursuant to section 113(g)(6) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(g)(6)), including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) The member must have the appropriate and current security clearances to enable access to any classified or other sensitive information that may be associated with or relevant to agency Transition Plans;

(ii) The member should be a Federal employee as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2105(a) or a Special Government Employee as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202(a); and

(iii) The member should have the necessary expertise to perform his or her duties.

(c) Term. The term of a member of the Technical Panel shall be eighteen (18) months, and no individual may serve more than one (1) consecutive term.

(d) Vacancies.

(1) Any member of the Technical Panel appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which the member’s predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only for the remainder of that term.

(2) A member of the Technical Panel may serve after the expiration of that member’s term until a successor has taken office.

(3) A vacancy shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section.

(e) Compensation.

(1) No member of the Technical Panel shall receive compensation for service on the Technical Panel.

(2) If any member of the Technical Panel is an employee of the agency of the official that appointed such member to the Technical Panel pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, compensation in the member’s capacity as a Federal employee shall not be considered compensation under paragraph (e)(1) of this section.

§ 301.110 Organization and operations.

(a) Chair.

(1) The member of the Technical Panel appointed by the Assistant Secretary pursuant to § 301.100(a) of this subpart shall be the Chair of the Technical Panel.

(2) The Chair of the Technical Panel may designate a Vice-Chair who may act as Chair in the absence of the Chair.

(b) Procedures of and actions by the Technical Panel.

(1) The Technical Panel may meet either in person or by some mutually agreeable electronic means to take action on the reports required by § 301.120 of this subpart or in providing technical assistance to a Dispute Resolution Board pursuant to § 301.130 of this subpart.

(2) Meetings of the Technical Panel may be convened as necessary for the efficient and timely dispatch of business by either NTIA or the Chair of the Technical Panel to consider reports and any action thereon and to provide technical assistance to a Dispute Resolution Board pursuant to § 301.130 of this subpart.

(3) The Technical Panel shall endeavor to reach its decisions unanimously. Absent unanimous consent of all three members of the Technical Panel, a concurring vote of a majority of the total panel membership constitutes an action of the Technical Panel.

(4) A majority of the Technical Panel members constitutes a quorum for any purpose.

(5) The Chair of the Technical Panel, in consultation with the other members, may adopt additional policies and procedures to facilitate the efficient and timely dispatch of panel business.

(6) The Technical Panel may consult Federal entity subject matter experts as necessary regarding Federal mission risks and other relevant issues while assessing the reasonableness of costs and timelines in the Federal entity’s Transition Plans so long as such consultations are disclosed in the Technical Panel’s report.

(c) Administrative support. NTIA shall provide the Technical Panel with the administrative support services necessary to carry out its duties under this part.

§ 301.115 Spectrum Pipeline Plans.

(a) Submission of Spectrum Pipeline Plan. A Federal Entity that requests payment from OMB as provided in section 118(g) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 928(g)) must submit a plan to the Technical Panel for approval.

(b) Contents of Spectrum Pipeline Plan. A Spectrum Pipeline Plan submitted in accordance with this section must describe activities for research and development, engineering studies, economic analyses, activities with respect to systems, or other planning activities intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the spectrum use of Federal Entities in order to make available frequencies for reallocation for non-Federal use or shared Federal and non-Federal use, or a combination thereof, for auction in accordance with such reallocation. Activities with respect to systems that improve the efficiency or effectiveness of the spectrum use of Federal Entities shall include:

(1) Systems that have increased functionality or that increase the ability of a Federal Entity to accommodate spectrum sharing with non-Federal entities;

(2) Systems that consolidate functions or services that have been provided using separate systems; or

(3) Non-spectrum technology or systems.

(c) Review by Technical Panel

(1) Deadline for approval. Not later than 120 days after a Spectrum Pipeline Plan has been submitted to the Technical Panel in accordance with this section, the Technical Panel shall approve or disapprove such plan.

(2) Criteria for Review. As part of its review, the Technical Panel shall consider whether:

(i) The activities that the Federal Entity will conduct with the payment will:

(A) Increase the probability of relocation from or sharing of Federal spectrum;

(B) Facilitate an auction intended to occur not later than 8 years after the payment; and

(C) Increase the net expected auction proceeds in an amount not less than the time value of the amount of the payment.

(ii) The transfer will leave sufficient amounts in the Spectrum Relocation Fund for the other purposes of such fund.

[81 FR 3338, Jan. 21, 2016]

§ 301.120 Reports on agency Transition Plans.

(a) Deadline for initial report. Not later than thirty (30) days after the receipt of a Federal Entity’s Transition Plan submitted in accordance with applicable procedures set forth in Annex O of the NTIA Manual, the Technical Panel shall submit to NTIA and to such Federal Entity the Technical Panel’s report on the sufficiency of the Transition Plan.

(b) Scope and content of initial report. The Technical Panel’s report shall include:

(1) A finding as to whether the Federal Entity’s Transition Plan includes the information required by the applicable provisions set forth in Annex O of the NTIA Manual;

(2) An assessment of the reasonableness of the proposed timelines contained in the Federal Entity’s Transition Plan;

(3) An assessment of the reasonableness of the estimated relocation or sharing costs itemized in the Federal Entity’s Transition Plan, including the costs identified by such plan for any proposed expansion of the capabilities of the Federal Entity’s system; and

(4) A conclusion, based on the finding and assessments pursuant to paragraphs (b)(1) through (3) of this section, as to the sufficiency of the Transition Plan.

(c) Insufficient Transition Plan. In the event the Technical Panel’s initial report concludes that the Federal Entity’s Transition Plan is insufficient pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, the report shall also include a description of the specific information or modifications that are necessary for the Federal entity to include in a revised Transition Plan.

(d) Revised plan. If the Technical Panel finds the plan insufficient, the applying Federal Entity has up to 90 days to submit to NTIA and the Technical Panel a revised plan.

(e) Report on revised agency Transition Plans.

(1) Deadline for Supplemental Report. Not later than thirty (30) days after the receipt of a Federal Entity’s revised Transition Plan submitted after an initial or revised plan was found by the Technical Panel to be insufficient pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section, the Technical Panel shall submit to NTIA and to such Federal Entity the Technical Panel’s supplemental report on the sufficiency of the revised Transition Plan.

(2) Scope and content of supplemental report. The Technical Panel’s supplemental report on the revised Transition Plan shall include:

(i) A finding as to whether the Federal Entity’s revised Transition Plan includes the necessary information or modifications identified in the Technical Panel’s initial report pursuant to paragraph (b)(1) of this section;

(ii) A reassessment, if required, of the reasonableness of the proposed timelines contained in the Federal Entity’s revised Transition Plan;

(iii) A reassessment, if required, of the reasonableness of the estimated relocation or sharing costs itemized in the Federal Entity’s revised Transition Plan; and

(iv) A conclusion, based on the finding and reassessments pursuant to paragraphs (e)(2)(i) through (iii) of this section, as to the sufficiency of the revised Transition Plan.

§ 301.130 Technical assistance to Dispute Resolution Boards.

Upon request of a Dispute Resolution Board convened pursuant to subpart C of this part, the Technical Panel shall provide the board with such technical assistance as requested.

Subpart C – Dispute Resolution Boards.

§ 301.200 Requests to resolve disputes.

(a) Non-Federal User requests

(1) In general. A Non-Federal User may submit a written request to NTIA in accordance with this section to establish a Dispute Resolution Board (hereinafter “board”) to resolve an actual, unresolved dispute that has arisen between the Non-Federal User and a Federal Entity regarding the execution, timing, or cost of the Transition Plan submitted by the Federal Entity pursuant to section 113(h)(1) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(1)).

(2) Negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Any dispute arising out of the execution, timing, or cost of the Transition Plan submitted by a Federal Entity must be raised, in the first instance, with the officer or employee of the Federal Entity identified in the Transition Plan as being responsible for the relocation or sharing efforts of the entity and who is authorized to meet and negotiate with Non-Federal Users regarding the transition. To the extent that the parties cannot resolve such dispute on an informal basis or through good faith negotiation, they are strongly encouraged to use expedited alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as mediation or non-binding arbitration, before submitting a written request in accordance with this section to establish a board.

(3) Eligibility to request the establishment of a board. To submit a request to establish a board, a Non-Federal User must satisfy the definition of such term in § 301.20 of this part and the dispute must pertain to the execution, timing, or cost of the Transition Plan associated with the license or licenses subject to the winning bid or bids.

(4) Contents of request. In order to be considered by a board under this subpart, a request must include:

(i) Specific allegations of fact regarding the Federal Entity’s deviation from the Transition Plan sufficient to support the requested resolution of the dispute. Such allegations of fact, except for those of which official notice may be taken by the board, shall be supported by affidavits of a person or persons having personal knowledge thereof;

(ii) A summary of the parties’ prior efforts and attempts to resolve the dispute, including negotiation, mediation, or non-binding arbitration efforts pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section;

(iii) A detailed description of each of the claims upon which a resolution is sought by and available to the Non-Federal User;

(iv) A detailed description of the requested resolution of the dispute;

(v) The requestor’s contact information and a certificate of service showing to whom and when an identical copy of the request was provided to the Federal Entity; and

(vi) A meeting proposal setting forth the proposed date, time, and place (including suggested alternatives) for a meeting with the Federal Entity and the board, the date for which shall be no later than fifteen (15) days from the date the request is sent to NTIA.

(vii) A self-certification that the Non-Federal User is a licensee authorized to use Eligible Frequencies or winning bidder in an FCC auction for the Eligible Frequencies.

(5) Federal Entity response. A Federal Entity has the right to submit a response to the board prior to the date of the scheduled meeting. If so directed by the Chair of the board, the Federal Entity shall submit a written response to the Non-Federal User’s request.

(b) Federal Entity requests

(1) In general. An Eligible Federal Entity may submit a written request in accordance with this section to establish a Dispute Resolution Board to resolve an actual dispute that has arisen between the Federal Entity and a Non-Federal User regarding the execution, timing, or cost of the Transition Plan submitted by the Federal Entity pursuant to section 113(h)(1) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(1)).

(2) Eligibility to request the establishment of a board. To submit a request to establish a board, a Federal Entity, as such term is defined in § 301.20 of this part, must have submitted a Transition Plan pursuant to section 113(h)(1) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(h)(1)) and the dispute must pertain to the execution, timing, or cost of such plan in connection with that Non-Federal User’s license or licenses to use the Eligible Frequencies.

(3) Contents of request. In order to be considered by a board under this subpart, a request must include:

(i) Specific allegations of fact regarding the factors hindering or affecting the plan’s execution, timing, or cost sufficient to support the requested resolution of the dispute. Such allegations of fact, except for those for which official notice may be taken by the board, shall be supported by affidavits of a person or persons having personal knowledge thereof;

(ii) A summary of the parties’ prior efforts and attempts to resolve the dispute;

(iii) A detailed description of each of the claims upon which a resolution is sought by and available to the Federal Entity;

(iv) A detailed description of the requested resolution of the dispute;

(v) The requestor’s contact information and a certificate of service showing to whom and when an identical copy of the request was provided to the Non-Federal User; and

(vi) A meeting proposal setting forth the proposed date, time, and place (including suggested alternatives) for a meeting with the Non-Federal User and the board, the date for which shall be no later than fifteen (15) days from the date the request is sent to NTIA.

(4) Non-Federal User response. A Non-Federal User has the right to submit a response to the board prior to the date of the scheduled meeting. If so directed by the Chair of the board, the Non-Federal User shall submit a written response to the Federal Entity’s request.

§ 301.210 Establishment and operation of a Dispute Resolution Board.

(a) In general. If NTIA receives a written request under § 301.200, it shall establish a Dispute Resolution Board in accordance with this section.

(b) Board membership. A board established under this section shall be composed of three (3) members, to be appointed as follows:

(1) A representative of OMB, to be appointed by the Director of OMB;

(2) A representative of NTIA, to be appointed by the Assistant Secretary; and

(3) A representative of the Commission, to be appointed by the Chairman of the Commission.

(c) Qualifications. The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the Chairman of the Commission, may impose qualifications for one or more members of a board established under this section as are necessary pursuant to section 113(g)(6) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(g)(6)), including, but not limited to, the following:

(1) The member has the appropriate and current security clearances to enable access to any classified or other sensitive information that may be associated with or relevant to the Transition Plan subject to dispute;

(2) The member must be an employee of the appointing agency;

(3) The member must be from a predetermined slate of not less than three (3) qualified candidates from NTIA, OMB, and the Commission and able to serve on a board immediately upon the notification of the establishment of a board under this section until it rules on the dispute that it was established to resolve; and

(4) The member may not simultaneously be a member of the Technical Panel governed by subpart B of this part or a former member of the Technical Panel that reviewed the Transition Plan subject to dispute.

(d) Chair.

(1) The representative of OMB shall be the Chair of any board established under paragraph (a) of this section.

(2) The Chair may designate a Vice-Chair who may act as Chair in the absence of the Chair.

(e) Term. The term of a member of a board shall be until such board is terminated pursuant to paragraph (j) of this section or until a successor or replacement member is appointed under paragraph (b) of this section.

(f) Vacancies. Any vacancy on a board shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made under paragraph (b) of this section.

(g) Compensation.

(1) No member of a board shall receive any compensation for service on such board.

(2) Compensation in the member’s capacity as an employee of the agency of the official that appointed such member to a board pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section shall not be considered compensation under paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(h) Procedures of and actions by a board.

(1) Except with respect to meetings with the parties pursuant to § 301.220(a), a board shall meet at the call of the Chair either in person or by some mutually agreeable electronic means to deliberate or rule on the dispute that it was established to resolve under paragraph (a) of this section or to receive technical assistance from the Technical Panel pursuant to § 301.130 of this part.

(2) A board shall endeavor to rule on the dispute that it was established to resolve under paragraph (a) of this section unanimously. Absent unanimous consent of all three members of a board, a concurring vote of a majority of the total board membership constitutes an action of such board.

(3) A majority of board members constitutes a quorum for any purpose.

(4) The Chair of a board, in consultation with the other members, may adopt additional policies and procedures to facilitate the efficient and timely resolution of the dispute that it was established to resolve under paragraph (a) of this section.

(i) Administrative support. NTIA shall provide any board established pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section with the administrative support services necessary to carry out its duties under this subpart.

(j) Termination of a board.

(1) A board established pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section shall terminate after it rules on the dispute that it was established to resolve and the time for appeal of its decision under section 113(i)(7) of the NTIA Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 923(i)(7)) has expired, unless such an appeal has been taken.

(2) If such an appeal has been taken, the board shall continue to exist until the appeal process has been exhausted and the board has completed any action required by a court hearing the appeal.

§ 301.220 Dispute Resolution.

(a) Meeting with parties. In consideration of the proposal set forth in a request pursuant to either § 301.200(a)(4)(vi) or (b)(3)(vi) of or at another mutually convenient date, time, and place (including via teleconference or other electronics means), the Chair of the board established under this subpart shall call a meeting of the board to be held simultaneously with representatives of the parties to the dispute to discuss the dispute.

(b) Additional written submissions. The parties to the dispute shall provide the board with any additional written materials and documents as it may request. In cases where the dispute or an element thereof relates to the impact on the Federal Entity’s national security, law enforcement, or public safety operations or functions, the board may request, and the Federal entity shall provide, additional written submissions concerning such impact.

(c) Assistance from Technical Panel. A board established under this subpart may request technical assistance, as necessary, from the Technical Panel governed by subpart B of this part.

(d) Deadline for decision. The board shall rule on the dispute not later than thirty (30) days from the date the request was received by the NTIA, unless the parties and the board all agree in writing, and subject to the approval of the Assistant Secretary, to extend this period for a specified number of days.

(e) Board decision. The decision of a board established under this subpart shall:

(1) Be in writing;

(2) Be limited to determinations related to the execution, timing, or cost of the Transition Plan submitted by the Federal entity;

(3) Be based only on the record before it, including the request; meeting(s) with the parties all at the same time; any additional written submissions requested by the board and served on the other party, including submissions from the Federal entity concerning the potential impact on its national security, law enforcement, or public safety operations or functions; input from the Technical Panel, and other matters and material for which it may take official notice;

(4) Ensure that the decision does not have a detrimental impact on the Federal entity’s operations or services that have national security, law enforcement, or public safety functions; and

(5) Be final upon issuance.

(f) Recommendations. A decision of the board may include recommendations for remedial or other corrective actions to the appropriate Federal agency with the legal authority to take such actions based on the board’s findings.

47 USC 302a: Devices which interfere with radio reception

§302a. Devices which interfere with radio reception

(a) Regulations

The Commission may, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, make reasonable regulations

(1) governing the interference potential of devices which in their operation are capable of emitting radio frequency energy by radiation, conduction, or other means in sufficient degree to cause harmful interference to radio communications; and

(2) establishing minimum performance standards for home electronic equipment and systems to reduce their susceptibility to interference from radio frequency energy. Such regulations shall be applicable to the manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale, or shipment of such devices and home electronic equipment and systems, and to the use of such devices.

(b) Restrictions

No person shall manufacture, import, sell, offer for sale, or ship devices or home electronic equipment and systems, or use devices, which fail to comply with regulations promulgated pursuant to this section.

(c) Exceptions

The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to carriers transporting such devices or home electronic equipment and systems without trading in them, to devices or home electronic equipment and systems manufactured solely for export, to the manufacture, assembly, or installation of devices or home electronic equipment and systems for its own use by a public utility engaged in providing electric service, or to devices or home electronic equipment and systems for use by the Government of the United States or any agency thereof. Devices and home electronic equipment an