FAA Announces Proposed Rule for Commercial Use of sUAS

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We have waited years for this! The NPRM for sUAS (drones) has finally been released.

The DOT’s FAA today proposed a framework of regulations called a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in national airspace.

Remember: these are “proposed” rules. These are not regulations. Commercial use of UAS are still prohibited without a COA or special exemption. Although, when asked, the DOT Secretary nor the FAA Administrator would answer the question “when” the proposed rule will be final, the GAO estimated earlier it may take 2-3 years due to the overwhelming comments about this proposal expected from stakeholders.

The FAA proposal defines safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations (that is “commercial”). The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

A private or commercial pilot’s license will not be required. Instead, a “UAS Operator’s Permit” must be obtained and renewed every 2 years. No medical exam will be required.

For a good summary of the proposed rules see here.

An overview of the NPRM process is depicted in the sidebar. The GAO predicts this could take 2-3 years.

Perhaps as important as the Proposed sUAS Rule is, Obama’s Executive Order that governs how our government can use this technology and protect privacy was also released today.

FAA’s official press release is here. Full audio of the DOT/FAA Conference Call with reporters can be heard here.

The current unmanned aircraft rules remain in place until the FAA implements a final new rule. The FAA encourages new operators to visit:

You can view the FAA’s Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later today at:

For more information on the FAA and UAS, visit: http://www.faa.gov/uas/

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