FAA Proposed Rules for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The issue about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is not a question of “if” but rather “when and how” and the FAA finally released the proposed rule making regarding small, unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). All pilots of manned aircraft need to review, understand and comment on the proposed rules as this is how we will be interacting with the UAVs and their operators.

The entire NPRM is available at

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ60_NPRM_2-15-2015_joint_signature.pdf

A summary is available at

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/media/021515_sUAS_Summary.pdf

An initial review of these documents shows a very pragmatic approach to regulating the non-recreational use of UAVs while ensuring UAV operators understand and integrate into the national airspace system. The proposed rule provides realistic safeguards for manned aircraft operations. While the NPRM is very comprehensive, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon from either the perspective of UAV operators or pilots flying manned aircraft. The FAA specifically requests public comment and suggestions in several areas of regulation and operation where they have made assumptions they realize are open to discussion.

Take some time to review the NPRM from your perspective and provide your comments to the FAA.

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-0150 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
  • Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12- 140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

While I will have some comments on the rules themselves, a major concern for me is enforcement of the rules after they are implemented. Anybody can go to a local hobby shop and purchase a drone that can be used for non-recreational purposes and not have a clue the rules exist. I think this needs to be a major consideration for the FAA as they move forward with these new rules.

 

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About Rich Martindell

Instrument flight instructor (CFII), rated airline transport pilot (ATP), former military instructor pilot in F-4s and F-15s. Aircraft accident investigator and flight safety consultant. FAA Safety Team Lead Representative.
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