The commercial drone forums were all ablaze this week with the announcement of proposed bill H.R. 4433 Commercial UAS Modernization Act – and just what that means for the industry, and those who have already been jumping through hoops to get accepted in the FAA’s current Section 333 Exemption process. Today, I asked drone law expert Peter Sachs if he would give us a breakdown of just what’s in this bill and how it’s going to impact the commercial drone industry. [Read more…]
Seemingly out of nowhere, drones or UAVs flew off the shelves for recreational flying. They have already caused their share of problems for the general public and firms that want to use them for a wide range of commercial applications. Proposed regulation of the free-flying aircraft is still a work in progress.
It’s estimated that about 1M UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or drones if you prefer, were gifted this Christmas. [Read more…]
With all the confusion and rampant discussions from the hobbyist drone industry these past few weeks, on the announcement of the FAA’s recent drone registry requirements, I’d like to try to provide some information and walk you through the typical process that takes only about 5 minutes to complete online.
Starting today, December 21, 2015, the FAA requires registration of personal drones or sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) for both recreational and commercial use. Commercial use will still need to file for the Section 333 Exemption process, but all hobbyists flying outdoors with anything larger than .55 lbs (250 gr) will need to comply, according to the FAA. They have extended a rebate period of 30 days for anyone who put a drone into service prior to todays’ date so your $5 fee will refunded after January 21, 2016 and the cutoff date to register is February 19, 2016. [Read more…]
As expected, the FAA and NTSB have pushed through a rather sloppy “solution” for what they think is controlling the national airspace with a generic UAS Registration program that starts taking applications on December 21, 2015. Other than a fairly benign attempt at drone education and responsible flying program through the “Know Before You Fly” campaign, registration will have little to do with ensuring safe flying practices from new hobbyists. [Read more…]
On October 19th, in response to media and analyst reports that close to 1 million drones would be sold over the holidays, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the creation of a registration task force (RTF) that would create recommendations for the FAA to implement a registration program for small UAS or drones in order to help enforce and track reckless and rogue drone operators. The task force was made up of 25 organizations from the drone and aviation industry, including manufacturers, service providers and trade associations. One day past their mandated deadline, the RTF submitted their recommendations to the FAA on Saturday, November 21st in a document titled Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) Task Force Recommendations Final Report. [Read more…]
DJI this week announced new plans to expand the list of its restricted flight locations to include places like prisons and power plants.
The software update is an expansion of its geofencing program, a virtual barrier which literally prohibits the drone from taking off or flying into areas in its geofence. DJI already uses geofencing in “no-fly-zones,” which are mostly airports and Washington, D.C. [Read more…]
There’s a lot of buzz going on about Monday’s press conference with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and F.A.A. Administrator Michael Huerta and their proposed plan to require all drone owners/operators to register their UAS (all sizes and classes) with a National Registry. And if you didn’t happen to catch the event, you can watch the recorded press conference below. The backlash from various UAS groups, legal advisors, manufacturers and aviation experts and the UAS community in general are nearly flabbergasted at the outcome of this event. [Read more…]
Want to fly FPV in Los Angeles? There is a new proposed ruling by the LA city council that would completely ban all FPV flights including those done with a VLOS spotter and even in AMA sanctioned flying fields. If you are found flying FPV in Los Angeles you risk a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.
I mentioned in my earlier post how so often, technology moves quicker than policymaking – and this has certainly been the case for drones. One of the hold-ups on the policymaking side over the last few months has been staffing of the federal government. In the spring Jim Williams, former head of the FAA UAS Integration Office, left the FAA, and that slot remained vacant all summer.
Today, the FAA announced a long-awaited development: Two officials have been appointed to manage and coordinate the agency’s policymaking on domestic integration of UAS into our national airspace. One of these new hires replaces Jim directly, and one fills a new role. Hopefully these hires will be helpful to move UAS policymaking along expeditiously.
According to the FAA release, Marke “Hoot” Gibson will become the Senior Advisor on UAS Integration, a new position established by the FAA to focus on external outreach and education, inter-agency initiatives and an enterprise-level approach to FAA management of UAS integration efforts. Gibson previously served as Executive Director of the NextGen Institute, a multi-agency initiative that was intended to transform the air transportation system. Gibson will report directly to the FAA Deputy Administrator. This new position was designed to foster greater communication between the UAS Integration Office and FAA political leadership, as well as to improve the agency’s outreach efforts with industry and advocates. Let’s hope this new position proves to be more than just bureaucratic reshuffling, and that Gibson will play a pivotal role in fostering constructive conversation between innovators and policymakers.
Earl Lawrence will become the Director of the UAS Integration Office within the FAA’s Aviation Safety organization. He will lead the FAA’s efforts to safely and effectively integrate UAS into the national airspace. Most recently, Lawrence led the work of the FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate; before that, he worked for the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Notably, both new hires come most recently from within the FAA; neither were hired out of industry. But both individuals have the reputation to be promoters and believers in UAS technology, so we trust they will work closely with innovators.
We look forward to engaging with Gibson and Lawrence in their new roles. Innovators in the UAS community should take the opportunity to educate Gibson and Lawrence about new UAS technologies and capabilities that affect our policymaking. We will all be better off for it.