FAA announced proposed UAS Rule

Yesterday, Professor Gregory McNeal of Pepperdine University wrote about a document that was leaked on the web.  It is entitled “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation” and is an economic analysis of a proposed rule 14 CFR Part 107.  The drone world was abuzz about this, since it provided a lot of insight into the proposed rule.  I began analyzing it myself but as I was doing that I received an email about a press conference to release the proposed rule today (Sunday Feb 15) at 10:00 am.  The press conference was by phone and I could not get through since the lines were full, but some information has been released.  I won’t comment on the irony found in the FAA using a conference call line to propose rules for cutting edge technology.

Note that these are PROPOSED rules.  That means they do not have the force of law and the current regime is still in force.  That means that anyone, including you, can comment on them through the normal rule making process!

These rules are directed at UAS under 55 lbs, but the NPRM indicates a desire to have even more permissive rules for mUAS (micro UAS under 4 lbs).  The FAA has not actually proposed rules, but will review comments and decide where to go from there.  Make your voice heard if you have an opinion.

Thank you to Professor McNeal for writing his article and forcing the FAA into action – especially on a Sunday!


The proposed rule can be found here, a summary document here.  The Press Release is down below along with excerpts from the cost evaluation.

Summary of the proposed rule:

  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg)
  • Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) and daylight only (First-person view (“FPV”) camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used if VLOS is satisfied)
  • Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation
  • May use visual observer (VO) but not required
  • Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots)
  • Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level
  • Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission – operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission
  • No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one tim
  • No careless or reckless operations
  • Requires preflight inspection by the operator

The proposed rule sets forth certification requirements for operators and aircraft:

  • Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators” (not “PIC”)
  • Operators would be required to:
    • Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center (and re-test every 24 months) – most knowledge required for the test is contained in the Aeronautical Information Manual
    • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration
    • Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires)
  • FAA airworthiness certification not required
    • Operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation
    • Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft)
  • Aircraft markings required
    • Same requirements that apply to all other aircraft
    • If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner

Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 – Hobbyists can still fly under the Model Aircraft Rules

The rule proposes, but does not delineate a microUAS option that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, provided the operator certifies he or she has the requisite aeronautical knowledge to perform the operation.

– Duke of Drones

Fin the raw data at the new “NRPM Central” Page

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