Military, Regulatory

Report: FAA Considers Small Drone Recommendations

By Joseph Ambrogne | April 4, 2016
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An FAA-appointed group has submitted recommendations for operating micro UAS in national airspace, according to an Associated Press report.
The Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee has reportedly called for “creating four categories of small drones that commercial operators can fly over people, including crowds in some cases.”
The committee was tasked with recommending by April 1 standards for “micro UAS,” which the agency previously had defined as drones weighing less than 4.4 lb. Specifically, the committee was asked to propose performance-based standards for micro UAS, ways for their manufacturers to show compliance and specific rules under which their operators would fly them.
In its Feb. 23 notice of proposed rulemaking, “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” the agency reasoned that certain drones that were small enough, made of “frangible materials that break, distort, or yield on impact” and operated under strict flight rules would present a minimal enough risk in the event of a crash that they could be subject to a looser set of regulations than those proposed for their larger counterparts in the upcoming FAR Part 107. Specifically, micro UAS operators could be trained and certified under lighter requirements and could operate directly over uninvolved bystanders.
Members of the committee included technology companies—such as AT&T and Intel—interested in operating drones, as well as organizations representing both manned and unmanned aviation. The committee’s recommendations will inform the FAA when it creates a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the eventual federal aviation regulations.

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