Jonathan Rupprecht


Section 107.19 Remote pilot in command.

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Section 107.19 Remote pilot in command.

(a) A remote pilot in command must be designated before or during the flight of the small unmanned aircraft.

(b) The remote pilot in command is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of the small unmanned aircraft system.

(c) The remote pilot in command must ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other people, other aircraft, or other property in the event of a loss of control of the aircraft for any reason.

(d) The remote pilot in command must ensure that the small UAS operation complies with all applicable regulations of this chapter.

(e) The remote pilot in command must have the ability to direct the small unmanned aircraft to ensure compliance with the applicable provisions of this chapter.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.19 Remote pilot in command.

 

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.19 Remote pilot in command.

Remote PIC. A person acting as a remote PIC of an sUAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) under part 107 must obtain a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating issued by the FAA prior to sUAS operation. The remote PIC must have this certificate easily accessible during flight operations. Guidance regarding remote pilot certification is found in Chapter 6, Part 107 Subpart C, Remote Pilot Certification. Again, the remote PIC will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of an sUAS operation conducted under part 107.

Additionally, part 107 permits transfer of control of an sUAS between certificated remote pilots. Two or more certificated remote pilots transferring operational control (i.e., the remote PIC designation) to each other may do so only if they are both capable of maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the UA and without loss of control (LOC). For example, one remote pilot may be designated the remote PIC at the beginning of the operation, and then at some point in the operation another remote pilot may take over as remote PIC by positively communicating that he or she is doing so. As the person responsible for the safe operation of the UAS, any remote pilot who will assume remote PIC duties should meet all of the requirements of part 107, including awareness of factors that could affect the flight.

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.19 Remote pilot in command from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 


Section 107.17 Medical condition.

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Section 107.17 Medical condition.

No person may manipulate the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system or act as a remote pilot in command, visual observer, or direct participant in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the small unmanned aircraft system.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.17 Medical condition.

 

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.17 Medical condition.

Medical Condition. Being able to safely operate the sUAS relies on, among other things, the physical and mental capabilities of the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, VO, and any other direct participant in the sUAS operation. Though the person manipulating the controls of an sUAS and VO are not required to obtain an airman medical certificate, they may not participate in the operation of an sUAS if they know or have reason to know that they have a physical or mental condition that could interfere with the safe operation of the sUAS.

Physical or Mental Incapacitations. Obvious examples of physical or mental incapacitations that could render a remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO incapable of performing their sUAS operational duties include, but are not limited to, such things as:
1. The temporary or permanent loss of the dexterity necessary to operate the CS to safely control the small UA.
2. The inability to maintain the required “see and avoid” vigilance due to blurred vision.
3. The inability to maintain proper situational awareness of the small UA operations due to illness and/or medication(s), such as after taking medications with cautions not to drive or operate heavy machinery.
4. A debilitating physical condition, such as a migraine headache or moderate or severe body ache(s) or pain(s) that would render the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO unable to perform sUAS operational duties.

5. A hearing or speaking impairment that would inhibit the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, and VO from effectively communicating with each other. In a situation such as this, the remote PIC must ensure that an alternative means of effective communication is implemented. For example, a person who is hearing impaired may be able to effectively use sign language to communicate

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.17 Medical condition from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

For the reasons discussed below, this rule will not require an airman medical certificate but will prohibit a person from manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS or acting as a remote pilot in command or visual observer if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.

The FAA received approximately 115 comments from organizations and individuals on this subject. Several commenters stated than an airman medical certificate is not necessary to operate a UAS. Other commenters suggested adding a requirement for an airman medical certificate.

The FAA disagrees that a medical certificate should be required in this rule. With certain exceptions, the FAA currently requires an airman medical certificate for exercising the privileges of a student pilot certificate, a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a commercial pilot certificate, and an airline transport pilot certificate.135 The primary reason for medical certification is to determine if the airman has a medical condition that is likely to manifest as subtle or sudden incapacitation that could cause a pilot to lose control of the aircraft, or impair the pilot’s ability to “see and avoid.”

Small UAS operations present a lower risk than manned operations to manned aircraft and non-participating people on the ground, especially because the operations do not involve any human beings onboard the aircraft who could be injured in the event of an accident. Additionally, unlike manned-aircraft operations, remote pilots and visual observers will be operating within a confined area of operation, subject to operational limitations intended to minimize the exposure of the small unmanned aircraft to manned aircraft in flight and people on the ground. Because of these operational limitations, traditional FAA medical certification is not warranted for remote pilots or visual observers.

The FAA also notes that the risks associated with pilot incapacitation are similar to the risks associated with loss of positive control. As discussed in that section, risks associated with loss of positive control are mitigated in this rule through: (1) preflight inspection of the control links, (2) a speed limit of 87 knots, and (3) a prohibition on operations of small unmanned aircraft over people not directly participating in the operation. Just as § 107.49(a)(3) will require remote pilots to ensure that all links between ground station and the small unmanned aircraft are working properly, § 107.17 will require the remote pilot in command to abstain from small UAS operations if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the flight.

Federal Airways & Airspace, ALPA, and several individual commenters expressed concern about the lack of a required vision exam. General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Aerospace Industries Association suggested that remote pilots hold a valid U.S. driver’s license to ensure a basic eye exam.

The FAA considers the visual-line-of-sight requirement for the remote pilot, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS (if that person is not the remote pilot), and the visual observer (if one is used) to be able to see the aircraft’s direction, altitude, and attitude of flight to be preferable to a prescriptive vision standard. Even with normal vision, it is foreseeable that a small unmanned aircraft may be so small that the operational space must be reduced to meet the visual-line-of-sight requirements of § 107.31. Therefore, any demonstration of completing a vision exam would be less effective than this rule’s visual-line-of-sight requirements, and as such, the FAA will not adopt a vision exam requirement in the final rule.

The FAA also disagrees with comments suggesting the FAA require a U.S. driver’s license. According to the DOT Office of Highway Policy Information, 13 percent of the population aged 16 or older does not hold a state-issued driver’s license.

136 As such, requiring a U.S. driver’s license would create an undue burden for many remote pilots without an equivalent increase in safety because the skills necessary to obtain a driver’s license are not the same as the skills needed to pilot a small UAS. Further, the FAA has historically allowed pilots of gliders and balloons to exercise the privileges of their pilot certificates without requiring a medical certificate or U.S. driver’s license, and this practice has resulted in no adverse effects on the NAS.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District supported the proposed requirement to disqualify persons with known physical or mental conditions that could interfere with the safe operation of the aircraft. Conversely, DronSystems commented that it would be impossible to enforce a prohibition on operations if an operator knows he or she has a medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of the small UAS.

The FAA notes that a similar regulatory provision already exists in part 61. Under § 61.53, a pilot certificate holder is obligated to abstain from acting as pilot in command during a period of medical deficiency. The requirement of § 61.53 applies regardless of whether or not a pilot certificate holder also holds a medical certificate.

One individual suggested that the FAA provide a list of disqualifying medical conditions.

The FAA has not established a list of disqualifying medical conditions under § 107.17 because there are a wide range of small UAS operations that could be affected differently by different medical conditions. For example, a person who is incapable of moving his fingers would not be able to safely operate a small UAS whose control station interface is manually manipulated with the fingers. However, that person may be able to safely operate a small UAS whose control station is operated through voice controls.

A person participating in a small UAS operation is responsible for knowing his or her physical and mental limitations and evaluating whether those limitations would allow him or her to safely participate in the specific small UAS operation that he or she is considering. If that person is unsure as to the limitations of his or her physical or mental condition, he or she should consult with a physician. The FAA emphasizes that those with a medical history or who are experiencing medical symptoms that would prevent them from safely participating in a small UAS operation or that raise a reasonable concern cannot claim to have no known medical conditions.

One commenter stated that residents of Alaska have a disproportionately high rate of “seasonal bipolar disorder” or “polar night-induced solipsism syndrome,” and that Alaskans might therefore be disproportionately affected by this provision. This commenter suggests that the FAA remove “bipolar disorder—or at the least bipolar disorder and related conditions ‘with seasonal pattern’—from the list of mental conditions which may prevent someone from being able to operate” a small UAS.

The FAA notes that the commenter is referring to a list of medical conditions enumerated in § 67.107(a)(3), § 67.207(a)(3), and § 67.307(a)(3), referring to a candidate for a first, second, or third class medical certificate to have no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a bipolar disorder. However, as discussed previously, part 107 does not include a list of disqualifying medical conditions. A person with bipolar disorder would violate § 107.17 only if his or her bipolar disorder was such that it would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.

The FAA also notes that in the NPRM it proposed to require that an applicant for an airman certificate must submit a certified statement attesting to his or her physical and mental condition at the time of the application. However, upon further review, the FAA has decided to remove this provision from the rule because an applicant’s medical condition at the time he or she submits his or her application for a remote pilot certificate may change prior to operation of the small UAS.


Section 107.15 Condition for safe operation.

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Section 107.15   Condition for safe operation.

(a) No person may operate a civil small unmanned aircraft system unless it is in a condition for safe operation. Prior to each flight, the remote pilot in command must check the small unmanned aircraft system to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation.

(b) No person may continue flight of the small unmanned aircraft when he or she knows or has reason to know that the small unmanned aircraft system is no longer in a condition for safe operation.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.15 Condition for safe operation.

Notice that this says prior to EACH flight. Additionally, it requires you to check the system, not just the drone.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.15 Condition for safe operation

sUAS Maintenance, Inspections, and Condition for Safe Operation. An sUAS must be maintained in a condition for safe operation. Prior to flight, the remote PIC is responsible for conducting a check of the sUAS and verifying that it is actually in a condition for safe operation. Guidance regarding how to determine that an sUAS is in a condition for safe operation is found in Chapter 7, sUAS Maintenance and Inspection.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.15 Condition for safe operation from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

Pursuant to section 333(b)(2) of Public Law 112-95, the NPRM proposed not requiring small UAS to obtain airworthiness certification if the small UAS operation satisfied the provisions of proposed part 107. Proposed part 107 would require that an operator maintain the small UAS in a condition for safe operation, and would prohibit an operator from operating a small UAS unless it was in a condition for safe operation. This condition would be determined during a required pre-flight inspection.

More than 40 commenters supported the Department’s proposal not to require an airworthiness certificate for small UAS. Many commenters favored not requiring an airworthiness certificate under this rule because it would be a burdensome process that would stifle technology advancements and delay research.

Several commenters said airworthiness certificates are unnecessary because safety concerns can be mitigated by other means. The Kansas Farm Bureau and Continental Mapping Consultants, for example, said the requirements to maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and to conduct a preflight inspection are adequate for maintaining safety.

Two commenters, the Small UAV Coalition and Modovolate Aviation, noted the expense of a type-, production-, or airworthiness certification requirement for small UAS. Modovolate Aviation stated that airworthiness certification “would impose unwarranted costs on vendors and operators of small UAS, discouraging their commercial use, and thus blunting their contribution to economic growth and American international competitiveness.” Modovolate Aviation also asserted that delays caused by an airworthiness certification requirement would render candidate vehicles obsolete by the time they are certificated and would encourage operation of uncertificated vehicles.

Several commenters recommended airworthiness certification in limited circumstances. The City of Phoenix Aviation Department said all UAS operating in airspace adjacent to airports should be “airworthiness certified.” One commenter said the FAA should require large UAS (which he defined as “rotary craft greater than 20 kg and fixed-wing between 12 and 24 kg”) to have an FAA airworthiness certificate, “which is civilian UAV specific, and not as stringent as the current COA.” Another individual commenter said small UAS should not be allowed to operate over others’ property or persons, and no closer than 500 feet unless they have an airworthiness certificate. Reabe Spraying Service said small UAS that fly over or within 100 feet of a person, vehicle, or occupied building that is not part of the operation should have a manufacturer-provided airworthiness certificate and must come with a manual that outlines all required maintenance and part life limits.

Finally, a number of commenters opposed the Department’s decision not to require small UAS to obtain an airworthiness certificate. NAAA and the Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CoAA), for example, said such certification is necessary to ensure small UAS can safely operate in the NAS without posing a hazard to persons or property.

One commenter noted that two weeks prior to publication of the NPRM, he presented data from the Army to several FAA engineers at a meeting of the RTCA, and the agreement was that many of the small UAS “mishap issues” would be solved through airworthiness certification. The commenter included with his comment files from presentations to the American Society of Safety Engineers and the International System Safety Society, which he said highlight the importance of airworthiness certification of small UAS.

Air Tractor said there should be a set of certification rules addressing the reliability of control systems for small UAS that are similar to the rules for civil certification of aircraft. The commenter stated its belief that the FAA has little knowledge of the quality, environmental performance, and software reliability of today’s commercial off-the-shelf small UAS control systems. The commenter said that, at a minimum, these systems should be certified, inspected, and tested to ensure reliable operations.

Unmanned aircraft technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace. The Department acknowledges that rapidly evolving technologies could face obsolescence by the time the certification process is complete. While the Department does consider such factors, the agency does not believe that this issue alone would warrant its choosing not to require airworthiness certification. Instead, the Secretary finds that operation in accordance with part 107 sufficiently mitigates the safety risk posed by a small unmanned aircraft.

To operate under part 107, a small unmanned aircraft must remain within visual line of sight of the remote pilot in command and may not fly over a person not directly participating in the flight operation. If commercial operation over people is desired, then the remote pilot will have to obtain a waiver by demonstrating that the operation will not decrease safety. The aircraft may be evaluated during the waiver process to ensure it has appropriate safety systems and risk mitigations in place for flight over people.

The final rule also does not permit flight operations in Class B, C, or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless the remote pilot in command has prior authorization from the air traffic control facility having jurisdiction over that airspace. This operational requirement will mitigate risk and ensure safety around airports without the need for further equipment or certification requirements.

These and other part 107 requirements significantly reduce the risk of a mid-air collision or the likelihood that the unmanned aircraft will fall on top of a person standing underneath it. Additionally, with limited exception, the small unmanned aircraft may not fly higher than 400 feet AGL, which further separates that aircraft operation from most manned-aircraft operations in the NAS.160 Because of the significant risk mitigation provided by the operating rules of part 107, an airworthiness certification requirement would not provide sufficient additional mitigation to justify the costs of requiring all small UAS operating under part 107 to obtain airworthiness certification.

Some commenters recommended that small UAS vendors and manufacturers be required to aid airworthiness by providing maintenance manual instructions or conducting testing. An individual commenter who supported the FAA’s decision not to impose airworthiness certification requirements on small UAS nevertheless urged the FAA to implement regulations that require small UAS vendors to provide maintenance manuals “such that the operator can indeed comply with the airworthiness requirements in a systematic way to allow ‘safe operation.’” ArgenTech Solutions recommended the FAA require each UAS manufacturer to obtain a limited special purpose certification for small UAS. The commenter suggested the certification include operation and testing at one of the FAA-authorized test sites to certify several minimum attributes. Another commenter, Kansas State University UAS Program, favored self-certification by either the operator or manufacturer using industry consensus standards.

While the FAA will not mandate that manufacturers provide instructions to determine if the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation, the agency encourages this practice. Many aircraft manufacturers, such as DJI, already provide this for their aircraft. Aircraft that are sold with such guidance may benefit from lower insurance rates when compared to equivalent aircraft that do not provide the documentation.

In developing the NPRM, the Department considered using industry consensus standards for airworthiness determination. However, consensus standards are still under development and thus cannot be used as the sole mandatory means of compliance. Additionally, a performance standard requiring the remote pilot to mitigate risk but giving him or her discretion to use non-technological mitigation will afford more flexibility to small UAS operations than airworthiness and technology-dependent requirements.

One commenter suggested that section 333(b)(2) is intended only for temporary use until a “lasting airworthiness means” is implemented.
The Department disagrees with the argument that section 333(b)(2) was intended to be temporary. The statutory language in section 333(c) specifically requires the Secretary to “establish requirements” for the safe operation of UAS that meet the requirements specified in section 333. Section 333(b)(2) states that the Secretary “shall determine . . . whether a certificate of waiver, certificate of authorization, or airworthiness certification under section 44704 of title 49, United States Code, is required for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems . . . .” There is no language in section 333 indicating that such requirements, if established, must be temporary.


Section 107.13 Registration

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Section 107.13 Registration

§ 107.13 Registration.

A person operating a civil small unmanned aircraft system for purposes of flight must comply with the provisions of § 91.203(a)(2) of this chapter.

§ 91.203 Civil aircraft: Certifications required.

(a) Except as provided in § 91.715 [Special flight authorizations for foreign civil aircraft], no person may operate a civil aircraft unless it has within it the following:
……..
(2) An effective U.S. registration certificate issued to its owner or, for operation within the United States, the second copy of the Aircraft registration Application as provided for in §47.31(c), a Certificate of Aircraft registration as provided in part 48, or a registration certification issued under the laws of a foreign country.

§ 47.31 Application.

 

(c) After compliance with paragraph (a) of this section, the applicant for registration of an aircraft last previously registered in the United States must carry the second copy of the Aircraft Registration Application in the aircraft as temporary authority to operate without registration.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.13 Registration

You might notice that 91.203(a) says “within” which causes many people confusion. I suggest you read Mary Bury’s Interpretation to John Duncan for clarity.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.13 Registration

Aircraft Registration. A small UA must be registered, as provided for in 14 CFR part 47 or part 48 prior to operating under part 107. Part 48 is the regulation that establishes the streamlined online registration option for sUAS that will be operated only within the territorial limits of the United States. The online registration Web address is
http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/. Guidance regarding sUAS registration and marking may be found at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/ aircraft_registry/. Alternatively, sUAS can elect to register under part 47 in the same manner as manned aircraft.

Registration of Foreign-Owned and Operated sUAS. If sUAS operations involve the use of foreign civil aircraft, the operator would need to obtain a Foreign Aircraft Permit pursuant to 14 CFR part 375, § 375.41 before conducting any commercial air operations under this authority. Foreign civil aircraft means, a) an aircraft of foreign registry that is not part of the armed forces of a foreign nation, or b) a U.S.-registered aircraft owned, controlled, or operated by persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Application instructions are specified in § 375.43. Applications should be submitted by electronic mail to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of International Aviation, Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division. Additional information can be obtained at https://cms.dot.gov/policy/aviation-policy/licensing/foreign-carriers.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.13 Registration from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

The NPRM proposed applying to small UAS the then-existing registration requirements that applied to all aircraft. The NPRM also proposed requiring that all small UAS have their registration and nationality marks displayed in accordance with Subpart C of part 45.

Approximately 125 commenters provided input on the proposed registration requirement or the associated process, with most commenters stating that it was a reasonable or necessary requirement. Of the roughly 110 commenters that addressed the proposed marking requirements, most supported requiring identification markings on small UAS.

On December 16, 2015, subsequent to the issuance of the NPRM for this rule, the FAA published the Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft interim final rule (Registration Rule). In the Registration Rule, the FAA considered and addressed the comments it received in response to the registration and marking proposals in the NPRM for this rule. As a result, the Registration Rule provided a streamlined and simple web-based aircraft registration process for the registration of small unmanned aircraft, as well as a simpler method for marking small unmanned aircraft. The Registration Rule invited further comment on its contents and the FAA will consider any significant issues that are raised by the commenters.

Because the registration and marking components that were originally part of the NPRM for this rule are now being addressed in a different rulemaking (the Registration Rule), these components are no longer a part of this rule. Thus, instead of imposing any new registration or marking requirements, this rule will simply require that any person operating a civil small UAS for purposes of flight comply with the existing requirements of § 91.203(a)(2). Section 91.203(a)(2) requires a person operating a civil small unmanned aircraft to have an effective U.S. registration certificate that is readily available to the owner or operator, as applicable.


Section 107.12 Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

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Section 107.12   Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may manipulate the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system unless:

(1) That person has a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of §107.65; or

(2) That person is under the direct supervision of a remote pilot in command and the remote pilot in command has the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the small unmanned aircraft.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may act as a remote pilot in command unless that person has a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to Subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of §107.65.

(c) The Administrator may, consistent with international standards, authorize an airman to operate a civil foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft without an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.12   Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

 

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.12  Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

Applicability. This chapter provides guidance regarding sUAS operating limitations and the responsibilities of the remote pilot in command (PIC), person manipulating the controls, visual observer (VO), and anyone else that may be directly participating in the sUAS operation. A person is also a direct participant in the sUAS operation if his or her involvement is necessary for the safe operation of the sUAS.

Aircraft Operation. Just like a manned-aircraft PIC, the remote PIC of an sUAS is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that UAS. The remote PIC will have final authority over the flight. Additionally, a person manipulating the controls can participate in flight operations under certain conditions. It is important to note that a person may not operate or act as a remote PIC or VO in the operation of more than one UA at the same time. The following items describe the requirements for both a remote PIC and a person manipulating the controls:

Remote PIC. A person acting as a remote PIC of an sUAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) under part 107 must obtain a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating issued by the FAA prior to sUAS operation. The remote PIC must have this certificate easily accessible during flight operations. Guidance regarding remote pilot certification is found in Chapter 6, Part 107 Subpart C, Remote Pilot Certification. Again, the remote PIC will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of an sUAS operation conducted under part 107.

Additionally, part 107 permits transfer of control of an sUAS between certificated remote pilots. Two or more certificated remote pilots transferring operational control (i.e., the remote PIC designation) to each other may do so only if they are both capable of maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the UA and without loss of control (LOC). For example, one remote pilot may be designated the remote PIC at the beginning of the operation, and then at some point in the operation another remote pilot may take over as remote PIC by positively communicating that he or she is doing so. As the person responsible for the safe operation of the UAS, any remote pilot who will assume remote PIC duties should meet all of the requirements of part 107, including awareness of factors that could affect the flight.

Person Manipulating the Flight Controls. A person who does not hold a remote pilot certificate or a remote pilot that that has not met the recurrent testing/training requirements of part 107 may operate the sUAS under part 107, as long as he or she is directly supervised by a remote PIC and the remote PIC has the ability to immediately take direct control of the sUAS. This ability is necessary to ensure that the remote PIC can quickly address any hazardous situation before an accident occurs. The ability for the remote PIC to immediately take over the flight controls could be achieved by using a number of different methods. For example, the operation could involve a “buddy box” type system that uses two control stations (CS): one for the person manipulating the flight controls and one for the remote PIC that allows the remote PIC to override the other CS and immediately take direct control of the small UA. Another method could involve the remote PIC standing close enough to the person manipulating the flight controls so as to be able to physically take over the CS from the other person. A third method could employ the use of an automation system whereby the remote PIC could immediately engage that system to put the small UA in a pre-programmed “safe” mode (such as in a hover, in a holding pattern, or “return home”).

Autonomous Operations. An autonomous operation is generally considered an operation in which the remote pilot inputs a flight plan into the CS, which sends it to the autopilot onboard the small UA. During automated flight, flight control inputs are made by components onboard the aircraft, not from a CS. Thus, the remote PIC could lose the control link to the small UA and the aircraft would still continue to fly the programmed mission/return home to land. During automated flight, the remote PIC also must have the ability to change routing/altitude or command the aircraft to land immediately. The ability to direct the small UA may be through manual manipulation of the flight controls or through commands using automation.

The remote PIC must retain the ability to direct the small UA to ensure compliance with the requirements of part 107. There are a number of different methods that a remote PIC may utilize to direct the small UA to ensure compliance with part 107. For example, the remote pilot may transmit a command for the autonomous aircraft to climb, descend, land now, proceed to a new waypoint, enter an orbit pattern, or return to home. Any of these methods may be used to satisfactorily avoid a hazard or give right of way.

The use of automation does not allow a person to simultaneously operate more than one small UA.

Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) and Crew Resource Management (CRM). ADM is a systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. A remote PIC uses many different resources to safely operate an sUAS and needs to be able to manage these resources effectively. CRM is a component of ADM, where the pilot of sUAS makes effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information. Many remote pilots operating under part 107 may use a VO, oversee other persons manipulating the controls of the small UA, or any other person who the remote PIC may interact with to ensure safe operations. Therefore, a remote PIC must be able to function in a team environment and maximize team performance. This skill set includes situational awareness, proper allocation of tasks to individuals, avoidance of work overloads in self and in others, and effectively communicating with other members of the crew, such as VOs and persons manipulating the controls of an sUAS. Appendix A, Risk Assessment Tools, contains expanded information on ADM and CRM, as well as sample risk assessment tools to aid in identifying hazards and mitigating risks.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.12  Requirement for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

1. Remote Pilot in Command
The NPRM proposed to create a new crewmember position (called “operator”) for small UAS operations conducted under part 107. The proposed rule would define an operator as a person who manipulates the flight controls of a small UAS. The NPRM also proposed prohibiting a person from serving as an operator if he or she does not have an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating, which would be a new airman certificate created by the proposed rule. Finally, the NPRM invited comments as to whether this rule should create a pilot in command (PIC) position and whether the PIC should be given the power to deviate from FAA regulations in response to an in-flight emergency.

For the reasons discussed below, this rule will remove the proposed crewmember position of “operator” and will instead create a new position of “remote pilot in command.” The remote pilot in command will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of a small UAS operation conducted under part 107. Additionally, the remote pilot in command will be required to obtain a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. However, an uncertificated person will be permitted to manipulate the flight controls of a small UAS as long as he or she is directly supervised by a remote pilot in command and the remote pilot in command has the ability to immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft. Finally, in case of an in-flight emergency, the remote pilot in command will be permitted to deviate from any rule of part 107 to the extent necessary to meet that emergency. A remote pilot in command who exercises this emergency power to deviate from the rules of part 107 will be required, upon FAA request, to send a written report to the FAA explaining the deviation.

a. Terminology
The NPRM proposed to create a new crewmember position called “operator,” which would be defined as a person who manipulates the flight controls of a small UAS. The NPRM also proposed to create a new airman certificate for the operator, which would be called an “unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating.” The NPRM noted, however, that the term “operator” is already used in manned-aircraft operations, and invited comments as to whether this term would cause confusion if used in part 107.

Several commenters noted that using the term “operator” in part 107 could result in confusion. NTSB, ALPA, and TTD pointed out that “operator” is currently used to refer to a business entity and that use of that term to refer to a small UAS pilot would be inconsistent with existing usage. Transport Canada and several other commenters stated that ICAO defines the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS as a “remote pilot” and asked the FAA to use this terminology in order to harmonize with ICAO. Transport Canada also noted that: (1) Canada uses the same terminology as ICAO; and (2) calling an airman certificate issued under part 107 an “operator certificate” may lead to confusion with FAA regulations in part 119, which allow a business entity to obtain an operating certificate to transport people and property. ALPA and TTD suggested that the person manipulating the controls of the small UAS should be referred to as a pilot, asserting that this would be consistent with how the word pilot has traditionally been used.

As pointed out by the commenters, FAA regulations currently use the term “commercial operator” to refer to a person, other than an air carrier, who engages in the transportation of persons or property for compensation or hire. Commercial operators are issued an “operating certificate” under 14 CFR part 119.67 Because other FAA regulations already use the term “operator” to refer to someone other than a small UAS pilot under part 107, the FAA agrees with commenters that use of the term “operator” in this rule could be confusing.

In considering alternative terminology to replace the term “operator,” the FAA noted that ICAO68 and the United Kingdom69 both use the term “remote pilot” to refer to the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS. Additionally, as pointed out by Transport Canada, Canada also uses the term “remote pilot.” Accordingly, this rule will use the term “remote pilot” instead of “operator” in order to harmonize with international terminology. Consequently, the FAA has changed the name of the airman certificate issued under part 107 to a “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.”
In addition, as discussed below, this rule will create a new crewmember position of “remote pilot in command.” The remote pilot in command will be a certificated airman and will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of a small UAS operation. Because the FAA anticipates that the remote pilot in command will often also be the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS, there is no need to have a separately defined crewmember position for the person manipulating the flight controls. Accordingly, the proposed definition of “operator” has been removed from this rule.

b. Remote Pilot in Command
The current regulations of part 91 create a separate PIC crewmember position that has ultimate authority and responsibility for the safety of the operation to: (1) ensure that a single person on board the aircraft is accountable for the operation; and (2) provide that person with the authority to address issues affecting operational safety. The NPRM proposed to forego this type of position in part 107, but invited comments as to whether a separate “operator in command” position should be created for small UAS operations.

Commenters including Aerius Flight, NetMoby, Predesa, and NRECA, generally agreed that a separate operator in command designation is not necessary for small UAS operations. NBAA commented that since small UAS operations will largely be excluded from airspace covered by traditional definitions of “operator” and “pilot,” there is no need to create a separate operator in command position for part 107 operations.

Other commenters requested that the FAA include a separate “operator in command” position in the final rule similar to the PIC position used in manned-aircraft operations. The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences pointed out that due to a wide variety of system configurations available for small UAS, it is possible that one or more flight crew members or sensor stations may affect the flight path of the unmanned aircraft. Accordingly, the commenter recommended that the term operator-in-command be added and defined in the rule to reflect the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight. ArgenTech Solutions, Inc. also recommended the rule address the title of operator-in-command and specify the requirements for operator hand-off of small UAS. Similarly, the Kansas State University UAS Program recommended clarification of responsibility in regard to operations with multiple operators and noted that creation of an operator-in-command designation would be an appropriate clarification.

As discussed below, this rule will allow small UAS to be operated by more than one person for purposes such as instruction or crew augmentation. As such, the FAA agrees that there needs to be a designated crewmember who is responsible for the safe operation of a small UAS and has final authority over that operation. Thus, this rule will create a new crewmember position of remote pilot in command.

Just as with manned-aircraft PICs, the remote pilot in command: (1) must be designated as remote pilot in command before or during the flight; and (2) will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation. In light of this change, the FAA has amended the regulatory text of part 107 to transfer the duties that the NPRM proposed to impose on the operator to the remote pilot in command and, where appropriate, to the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. The remote pilot in command will also be generally responsible for ensuring that the small UAS operation complies with all applicable FAA regulations.

Turning to the comments about operator hand-off, a person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS may be augmented by another person during operation. Specifically, the person manipulating the flight controls may safely transfer the controls to another person during flight as long as the transfer does not violate the operational provisions of part 107 and a remote pilot in command is designated. For example, the flight controls of a small UAS may not be transferred if the process of transferring the controls would cause the unmanned aircraft to enter Class B airspace without ATC permission.

The FAA emphasizes that, as discussed in section III.E.2.a of this preamble, at any point throughout the entire flight of the small unmanned aircraft, the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS must both have the ability to see the small unmanned aircraft unaided by any device other than corrective lenses. Therefore, the person manipulating the flight controls must be able to see the small unmanned aircraft at the time of the handoff sufficiently well to satisfy the visual-line-of-sight requirements of this rule. The FAA also emphasizes that § 107.19(c) requires the remote pilot in command to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will not pose an undue hazard to other aircraft, people, or property on the ground if positive control is lost. Thus, the remote pilot in command must ensure that the technology and method used for conducting the handoff does not unduly increase the risk associated with a possible loss of positive control.

c. Airman Certification Requirement

The NPRM proposed to require that each person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS obtain a part 107 airman certificate. The FAA’s statute requires a person serving as an airman to obtain an airman certificate. Because the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS would be an airman under the crewmember framework proposed in the NPRM, that person would statutorily be required to obtain an airman certificate. The NPRM also proposed to create a new airman certificate to be issued for small UAS operations in place of the existing part 61 pilot certificates that focus on manned-aircraft operations.

Many commenters, including Air Tractor, Inc., Ag Info Tech, LLC, and the American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, supported the proposal to require the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS to obtain a part 107 airman certificate. Commenters generally supported this provision because it was viewed as an economical means to achieve the rule’s safety objective. Commenters including Modovolate and the National Association of Broadcasters stated the proposed approach of adding a new category of airmen provides a good balance with the need to verify operator qualifications without unduly burdening the operators.

Several commenters disagreed with the proposed airman certification requirement. Airship Technologies argued that an airman certificate is unnecessary to operate a small UAS and asserted that the proposed regulatory framework is too complex, costly, and burdensome for both the public and the FAA. Airship Technologies suggested that the operator should instead depend upon the product manufacturer’s training in the form of classes and documented materials. Another commenter asserted that processing certificate applications will create a backlog for the FAA. Yet another commenter suggested a self-certification procedure in lieu of a required airman certificate asserting that the proposed certificate would offer little benefit to the operators or the NAS.

Commenters from the educational and academic community, including Princeton University and the Council on Government Relations, suggested that a remote-pilot-in-command position should allow a faculty member acting as a remote pilot in command to oversee student operators utilizing small UAS as part of a course or research activity. Princeton University expressed concern over requiring the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS to hold an airman certificate, citing complications in the academic environment. Princeton provided scenarios where students would use a small UAS in projects as part of their academic courses and the challenges involved in obtaining an operator certificate prior to testing their project. To resolve these concerns, Princeton recommended that universities be able to obtain an “Educational UAS License,” which would give them the authority to designate an “Operator-in-Command” and administer the knowledge test to appropriate faculty and staff.

The FAA agrees with the majority of comments that an airman certificate to operate a small UAS should be required unless directly supervised by a remote pilot in command. This is in fact a statutory requirement, as 49 U.S.C. 44711(a)(2)(A) prohibits a person from serving in any capacity as an airman with respect to a civil aircraft used or intended to be used in air commerce “without an airman certificate authorizing the airman to serve in the capacity for which the certificate was issued.” The FAA’s statute defines an airman to include an individual “in command, or as pilot, mechanic, or member of the crew, who navigates aircraft when under way.” 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(8)(A). Because the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS without supervision are both pilots and members of the crew who navigate the small unmanned aircraft when it is under way, these crewmembers are statutorily required to have an airman certificate. The FAA therefore maintains the requirement that a person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS without supervision must obtain a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating and this rule will also extend this requirement to the remote pilot in command.

However, the FAA acknowledges the educational concerns that have been raised by the academic commenters and notes that in the manned-aircraft context, an uncertificated person can manipulate the flight controls of an aircraft in flight as long as he or she is directly supervised. An individual whose manipulation of the flight controls is closely supervised by a certificated airman is not in command and is not a pilot or member of the crew because his or her presence is not necessary to fly the aircraft. Instead, the certificated airman who is providing the supervision is exercising the judgment that is normally expected of a pilot and that airman could simply fly the aircraft by him or herself instead. Thus, an individual who is directly supervised by a certificated airman is not an “airman” within the meaning of section 40102(a)(8)(A) and is therefore not statutorily required to obtain an airman certificate.

To further enable the educational opportunities identified by the commenters, this rule will allow the remote pilot in command (who will be a certificated airman) to supervise another person’s manipulation of a small UAS’s flight controls. A person who receives this type of supervision from the remote pilot in command will not be required to obtain a remote pilot certificate to manipulate the controls of a small UAS as long as the remote pilot in command possesses the ability to immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft. This ability is necessary to ensure that the remote pilot in command can quickly address any mistakes that are made by an uncertificated person operating the flight controls before those mistakes create a safety hazard.

The ability for the remote pilot in command to immediately take over the flight controls could be achieved by using a number of different methods. For example, the operation could involve a “buddy box” type system that uses two control stations: one for the person manipulating the flight controls and one for the remote pilot in command that allows the remote pilot in command to override the other control station and immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft. Another method could involve the remote pilot in command standing close enough to the person manipulating the flight controls so as to be able to physically take over the control station from the other person. A third method could employ the use of an automation system whereby the remote pilot in command could immediately engage that system to put the small unmanned aircraft in a pre-programmed “safe” mode (such as in a hover, in a holding pattern, or “return home”).

The FAA also emphasizes that, as discussed in section III.E.3.b.ii of this preamble, part 107 will not allow a person to act as a remote pilot in command in the operation of more than one small unmanned aircraft at the same time. In the educational context, this means that a faculty member who is acting as a remote pilot in command could not directly supervise the simultaneous operation of more than one small unmanned aircraft. The faculty member could, however, instruct a class of students in a manner that does not involve the simultaneous operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft. For example, a class of students could operate a single small unmanned aircraft with students passing control of the aircraft to each other under the supervision of a faculty member who is a remote pilot in command. An academic institution could also require a certain number of students to obtain a remote pilot certificate prior to beginning a class involving small UAS use in order to increase the number of people who would be available to act as a remote pilot in command.

Several commenters, including the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Textron Systems, expressed the view that there should be different small UAS certifications for different altitudes, locations, aircraft sizes, and applications.

The FAA recognizes there are differences between the various small UAS operations as articulated by the commenters. However, the key knowledge areas that will be tested on the initial and recurrent knowledge tests will be applicable to all small UAS operations that could be conducted under part 107 regardless of the altitude, location, size, or application of the small UAS. Requiring only a single remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating will give the remote pilot in command the flexibility to operate various small UAS within the parameters permitted by part 107 without any additional FAA-required training or testing.

Many commenters, including ALPA, NAAA, and TTD, argued that small UAS operators should be required to have a part 61 pilot certificate to operate in the NAS. These commenters remarked that operating in the NAS is a great responsibility, and that all persons operating in the NAS should be aware of these responsibilities.

ALPA, TTD, Schertz Aerial Services, Inc., and many other commenters recommended that the FAA require a part 61 commercial pilot certificate. TTD stated that the standards put in place must ensure one level of safety for all who operate in the NAS, and if small UAS operators are operating for compensation or hire in shared airspace with manned aircraft, then they too should hold a commercial pilot certificate. Schertz Aerial Services added that small UAS pose a risk of collision or interference with manned aircraft and that UAS operators are not putting their own life at risk when flying. Schertz Aerial Services argued that the FAA should not carve out exceptions to the well-established requirement of commercial airman certificates for commercial operations.

NAAA and several other commenters suggested that, in place of a part 61 commercial pilot certificate, the FAA should require small UAS pilots to hold a part 61 private pilot certificate. NAAA stated that this position is a change from its section 333 exemption comments. After further analysis NAAA determined that requiring a commercial pilot certificate is not necessary and a private pilot certificate with a UAS knowledge and skills test rating would be sufficient to operate a UAS safely. Another commenter asserted that a UAS pilot should be required to have a part 61 student pilot certificate.

Many other commenters, including AIA, AOPA, and the National Association of Realtors, supported having a separate part 107 airman certificate. Commenters including the National Association of Wheat Growers, and the American Fuel & Petrochemicals Association stated that requiring a part 61 pilot certificate would be overly burdensome and pointed out that many of the knowledge areas and skills required for manned aircraft do not apply to the operation of unmanned aircraft.

The FAA agrees with the commenters who pointed out that the skills necessary to obtain a part 61 pilot certificate would not equip the remote pilot in command with all of the aeronautical skills necessary to safely operate a small UAS and would instead impose a significant cost burden without a corresponding safety benefit. Specifically, manned-aircraft training may not prepare a pilot to deal with UAS-specific issues such as how to maintain visual line of sight of the unmanned aircraft or how to respond when signal to the unmanned aircraft is lost.

Required training for a part 61 pilot certificate would, however, impose the burden of training on areas of knowledge that are inapplicable to small UAS operations. For example, unlike a manned-aircraft pilot, a remote pilot in command does not need to know how to operate the flight controls of a manned aircraft. Similarly, the remote pilot in command does not need to be able to takeoff, land, or maneuver a manned aircraft. While these skills are critical to the safe operation of manned aircraft and are thus required for a part 61 pilot certificate, they are not typically necessary for the safe operation of a small UAS. Because requiring a part 61 pilot certificate would not ensure that certificate applicants learn all areas of knowledge specific to small UAS operations while at the same time requiring those applicants to learn areas of knowledge that are not necessary to safely operate a small UAS, this rule will not require a remote pilot in command to obtain a part 61 pilot certificate.

Several commenters stated that despite the language of 49 U.S.C. 44711(a)(2)(A), the FAA should not require an airman certificate for small UAS operations conducted in rural areas on private property, and at low altitudes. One commenter stated that there is no statutory or regulatory requirement that a small UAS operator must be an airman given that part 103 operators need not have an airman certificate yet they fly in the NAS. Another commenter stated that the FAA was overly broad in its definitions of aircraft and air commerce. The commenter claimed the proposal ignored the flexibility FAA exercised in creating the regulations of 14 CFR part 101 regulating amateur rockets, kites, and unmanned free balloons. The commenter added that current part 101 regulations for these devices are safety-based and they appropriately make no artificial distinction between commercial and non-commercial use.

Several other commenters disagreed with the proposed certificate requirements, claiming they should not be applicable to hobbyists.
In response to the comment arguing that the FAA was overly broad in its definitions of aircraft and air commerce, the FAA notes that both terms are defined by statute. As discussed earlier, the NTSB has held that the statutory definition of “aircraft” is “clear on [its] face” and that definition encompasses UAS. The NTSB has also held that, based on the statutory definition of air commerce, “any use of an aircraft for purpose of flight constitutes air commerce.”

Turning to the comments arguing that certain UAS operations should be exempt from airman certification, as discussed earlier, it is a statutory requirement, under 49 U.S.C. 44711(a)(2)(A), that a person may not serve as an airman with respect to a civil aircraft used or intended to be used in air commerce without an airman certificate. The statute does not distinguish between different types of operations, such as those suggested by the commenters. Accordingly, regardless of where and how a small UAS operation is conducted, this rule will require the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS to hold a remote pilot certificate unless he or she is directly supervised by a certificated remote pilot in command who has the ability to immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft. However, as discussed in section III.C.4 of this preamble, operations of model aircraft as a hobby or for recreational use under the provisions of section 336 will not be subject to part 107. With regard to parts 101 and 103, those regulations are beyond the scope of this rule.

The Flight School Association of North America and Event 38 Unmanned Systems suggested that the airman certificate should include the operator’s information and a color photo. Under this rule, the FAA will issue the same type of pilot certificate for the remote pilot in command as it does for all other airmen. The airman’s specific information will be listed along with the date of issuance. At this time, the FAA does not issue airman certificates with a photo; however the FAA is addressing that issue through a separate rulemaking effort.

Event 38 Unmanned Systems suggested that the FAA create a database of registered airmen, but limit accessibility to FAA and law enforcement. NetMoby suggested allowing the public to access the database so they may confirm a person flying a small UAS in their vicinity is authorized to do so and assist in enforcement. Additionally, NetMoby suggested that the FAA use the current airman certificate database as the template for its suggested database.

The FAA currently maintains an airman certification database that permits the public to search or download through its public website. This information includes name, address, and certificates and ratings held by the certificate holder. The agency will issue remote pilot certificates in accordance with its existing processes for issuing airman certificates and the public will be able to search the airman certification database for those who hold a remote pilot certificate. The certificate holder may opt to request their address not be published on the public website.

The University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences recommended that the FAA remove the “small UAS rating” from a part 107 airman certificate. The commenter stated that an additional small UAS rating is redundant because part 107 will apply only to small UAS operations.

As discussed in section III.A of this preamble, this rule is only one step of the FAA’s broader effort to fully integrate all UAS operations into the NAS. Future agency actions are anticipated to integrate larger and more complex UAS operations into the NAS and integrating those operations may require the creation of additional UAS-specific airman certificate ratings. To accommodate these future actions, the FAA will retain the small UAS rating.

Textron Systems recommended establishing a small UAS certificate with appropriate category ratings (e.g., rotorcraft or airplane) which would require documentation of aeronautical experience and a practical test prior to issuance. Textron stated the skills and knowledge required to operate unmanned rotorcraft and unmanned airplanes are substantially different during launch, semi-autonomous missions, and recovery, and therefore there should be a difference indicated on the certificate.

The category and class designations used for part 61 pilot certificates stem from the airworthiness certification designations given on the type certificate data sheet (TCDS) when an aircraft type becomes certificated. The TCDS identifies the airworthiness standards that a specific aircraft has met as those standards differ for different types of aircraft. However, as discussed in section III.J.3 of this preamble, small UAS operating under part 107 will not be required to obtain an airworthiness certificate. As such, there will be no airworthiness standards or a TCDS that will be issued for every small UAS design, and a category designation would not be workable under part 107.

One commenter recommended that the FAA require that the remote pilot certificate be displayed on a name badge, lanyard, or armband during a small UAS operation in case the remote pilot in command is approached or questioned about authorization for the activity.

The FAA emphasizes that § 107.7(a)(1) will require the remote pilot certificate holder to, upon request, make his or her remote pilot certificate available to the Administrator. This rule will not specify the method by which the certificate holder stores and displays his or her certificate, but whatever method is used, the certificate holder must provide the certificate to the FAA upon request.

In the NPRM, the FAA proposed to exclude foreign-registered aircraft from part 107 because the proposed rule included a registration component and foreign-registered aircraft may not be registered by the FAA. The FAA has since promulgated a separate interim final rule, titled Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft50 (Registration Rule), to address the registration and marking of all small unmanned aircraft, including unmanned aircraft that will be subject to part 107. In the Registration Rule, the Department acknowledged that under 49 U.S.C. 41703, the Secretary may authorize certain foreign civil aircraft to be navigated in the United States only if: (1) the country of registry grants a similar privilege to aircraft of the United States; (2) the aircraft is piloted by an airman holding a certificate or license issued or made valid by the U.S. government or the country of registry; (3) the Secretary authorizes the navigation; and (4) the navigation is consistent with the terms the Secretary may prescribe.

A foreign civil aircraft is defined in 14 CFR 375.1 as (a) an aircraft of foreign registry that is not part of the armed forces of a foreign nation, or (b) a U.S.-registered aircraft owned, controlled or operated by persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. For those that fall within this definition and wish to operate under the provisions of part 107, they must first apply with the Office of the Secretary’s Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division for permission to operate in the United States.

The Department only will authorize operations of foreign-registered UAS in the United States if it determines that such operations are recognized under international agreements or via findings of reciprocity, consistent with the statutory obligations under section 41703, and via the process as described below. The notion of reciprocity has a long-standing tradition in international relations and has been used in the realm of specialty air services for years. While there are many types of specialty air operations authorized under free trade agreements, it has been the long-standing policy of DOT to require a finding of reciprocity before allowing foreign-owned specialty air services to operate in the United States, even when the United States has no obligation under a trade agreement. The Department also will continue to review whether existing international agreements address the operation of UAS, and if not, what negotiations will need to occur to address these operations in the future.

With respect to the supply of specialty air services in the United States by foreign-owned or controlled entities, DOT may allow these operations to occur provided that the UAS are registered and the owners have provided proof of reciprocity by their homeland of the ability for U.S. investment in UAS operations. Additional conditions may be imposed as necessary to satisfy the statutory requirements of section 41703.

The FAA notes that, initially, all airmen operating under part 107 will be required to obtain a remote pilot certificate. Currently, ICAO has not adopted standards for the certification of pilots of unmanned aircraft that the FAA could rely on in determining whether it is obligated under international law to recognize a foreign-issued UAS-specific airman certificate. However, once an ICAO standard has been developed, this rule will allow the FAA to determine whether a foreign-issued UAS-specific airman certificate was issued under standards that meet or exceed the international standards, and therefore must be recognized by the FAA for purposes of operating a foreign-registered aircraft within the United States.

The FAA also notes that remote pilots of foreign-registered aircraft will need to comply with any applicable requirements imposed by their country of registration that do not conflict with part 107. For example, while part 107 will not require airworthiness certification, the small unmanned aircraft will need to obtain airworthiness certification if required to do so by its country of registration.


Section 107.11 Applicability.

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Section 107.11 Applicability.

This subpart applies to the operation of all civil small unmanned aircraft systems subject to this part.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.11 Applicability.

You are either operating under this sub-part as a small UAS or you are operating under a Section 333 exemption. See 107.1 

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.11 Applicability.

This chapter provides guidance regarding sUAS operating limitations and the responsibilities of the remote pilot in command (PIC), person manipulating the controls, visual observer (VO), and anyone else that may be directly participating in the sUAS operation. A person is also a direct participant in the sUAS operation if his or her involvement is necessary for the safe operation of the sUAS.

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.11 Applicability from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

One individual said proposed § 107.11 should be amended to indicate that public agencies may choose to voluntarily operate under part 107. The City of Arlington, Texas requested the ability to follow the small UAS rules, not the COA process. Aerial Services, Inc. also said that public entities should be allowed to operate like commercial operators, but only for research and instructional purposes.

Under this rule, a public aircraft operation can continue to operate under a COA or can voluntarily operate as a civil aircraft in compliance with part 107. As stated in the NPRM, this rule will not apply to public aircraft operations of small UAS that are not operated as civil aircraft. These operations must continue to comply with the FAA’s existing requirement to obtain a COA providing the public aircraft operation with a waiver from certain part 91 requirements such as the “see and avoid” requirement of § 91.113(b).

However, this rule will provide greater flexibility to public aircraft operations because it allows small UAS public aircraft operations to voluntarily opt into the part 107 framework. In other words, a remote pilot may elect to operate his or her small UAS as a civil rather than a public aircraft and comply with part 107 requirements instead of obtaining a COA. With regard to Nez Perce’s assertion that aircraft operated by federally recognized Indian tribes are public aircraft, that issue is beyond the scope of this rule.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recommended that the FAA modify the current limitation in § 107.11 concerning “civil” aircraft to include “public aircraft” as well. This is necessary, AUVSI asserted, because some current operation rules for manned aircraft (such as those found in part 91) apply to both “public aircraft” and “civil aircraft.”


Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

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Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

No later than 10 calendar days after an operation that meets the criteria of either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, a remote pilot in command must report to the FAA, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator, any operation of the small unmanned aircraft involving at least:

(a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or

(b) Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1) The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or

(2) The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

I created a giant article on what to do after a drone crash.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

Accident Reporting. The remote PIC of the sUAS is required to report an accident to the
FAA within 10 days if it meets any of the following thresholds:
1. At least serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. Within the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with Level 1 being a minor injury, Level 2 is moderate, Level 3 is serious, Level 4 is severe, Level 5 is critical, and Level 6 is a nonsurvivable injury. The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations.

Note: It would be considered a “serious injury” if a person requires hospitalization, but the injury is fully reversible (including, but not limited to, head trauma, broken bone(s), or laceration(s) to the skin that requires suturing).

2. Damage to any property, other than the small UA, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower).

Note: For example, a small UA damages a property whose fair market value is $200, and it would cost $600 to repair the damage. Because the fair market value is below $500, this accident is not required to be reported. Similarly, if the aircraft causes $200 worth of damage to property whose fair market value is $600, that accident is also not required to be reported because the repair cost is below $500.

Submitting the Report. The accident report must be made within 10 calendar-days of the operation that created the injury or damage. The report may be submitted to the appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) electronically or by telephone. Electronic reporting can be completed at www.faa.gov/uas/. To make a report by phone, see Figure 4-1, FAA Regional Operations Centers Telephone List. Reports may also be made to the nearest jurisdictional FSDO (http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/). The report should include the following information:
1. sUAS remote PIC’s name and contact information;
2. sUAS remote PIC’s FAA airman certificate number;
3. sUAS registration number issued to the aircraft, if required (FAA registration number);
4. Location of the accident;
5. Date of the accident;
6. Time of the accident;
7. Person(s) injured and extent of injury, if any or known;
8. Property damaged and extent of damage, if any or known; and
9. Description of what happened.

LOCATION WHERE ACCIDENT OCCURRED: TELEPHONE:
DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, WV, and VA 404-305-5150
AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, MA, ME, MS, NC, NH, PR, RI, SC, TN, VI, and VT 404-305-5156
AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY 425-227-1999
AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TX, and WI 817-222-5006

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Reporting. In addition to the report submitted to the ROC, and in accordance with the criteria established by the NTSB, certain sUAS accidents must also be reported to the NTSB. For more information, visit www.ntsb.gov.

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.9 Accident reporting from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

To ensure proper oversight of small UAS operations, the NPRM proposed to require a small UAS operator to report to the FAA any small UAS operation that results in: (1) any injury to a person; or (2) damage to property other than the small unmanned aircraft. The report would have to be made to the FAA within 10 days of the operation that resulted in injury or damage to property. After receiving this report, the FAA may conduct further investigation to determine whether any FAA regulations were violated.

The NPRM invited comments as to whether this type of accident reporting should be required. The NPRM also invited comments as to whether small UAS accidents that result in minimal amounts of property damage should be exempted from the reporting requirement, and, if so, what threshold of property damage should trigger the accident reporting requirement. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will require accident reporting of accidents that result in at least: (1) serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or (2) damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless the cost of repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss does not exceed $500.

Most of the commenters who addressed this issue generally supported an accident reporting requirement. However, the commenters questioned whether the proposed requirement to report any injury or property damage is too broad because it does not consider the severity of the injury or property damage. To correct what they also saw as an overly broad accident reporting requirement, most of the commenters recommended the proposed requirement be amended to stipulate that reporting is required only for operations that cause injury or property damage above certain thresholds.
A number of commenters recommended general thresholds for reportable injuries and property damage. For example, the Drone User Group Network said an operation should be reportable if it involves “significant” injury or property damage. The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences said an operation should be reportable if it involves “serious” injury or “substantial” property damage; such a requirement, the commenter pointed out, is in line with the NTSB definition of “occurrence” and the FAA definition of “accident.” AIA suggested a reporting requirement for operations causing “serious bodily harm (those requiring hospitalization, for instance)” or “substantial” property damage. AUVSI, University of North Carolina System, and Prioria said operations resulting in minor injuries or minimal damage to property should not be required to be reported in the same manner as more serious injuries or substantial damage to property. UPS said an operation should be reportable if it causes an injury that requires medical attention or property damage that exceeds a threshold amount “sufficient to exclude insignificant incidents.” An individual commenter recommended a reporting requirement for operations that result in injury or property damage “which is over the upper monetary limit of the small claims court jurisdiction.”

Several commenters recommended more specific thresholds for reportable injuries and property damage. These commenters generally recommended a requirement that the injury caused by the operation be one that necessitates some sort of medical attention and that the property damage caused by the operation exceed some minimum monetary threshold, ranging from $100 to $25,000. For example, commenters recommended some of the following specific thresholds be added to the proposed accident reporting requirement:

• Modovolate Aviation and Aviation Management said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury requiring “hospitalization or other treatment by a provider of medical care,” or “professional medical assistance,” respectively, or property damage of $1,000.
• NBAA said an operation should be reportable if a person has to seek medical treatment as a result of the operation or if property damage exceeds $1,000 or if a police report is filed.
• NAMIC said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “requiring professional medical treatment” or property damage greater than $2,000.
• The Travelers Companies said an operation should be reportable if it causes “‘serious’ injuries caused by impact of the UAS” or property damage of over $5,000.
• Clean Gulf Associations said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “which requires professional medical treatment beyond first aid or death to any person” or property damage greater than $10,000.
• Jam Aviation said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “that requires emergency medical attention” or property damage that exceeds $25,000 or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less.
• Skycatch, Clayco, AECOM, and DPR Construction said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “requiring assistance of trained medical personnel” or property damage in excess of $20,000.

The California Department of Transportation, Virginia Commonwealth University Honors Students, Southern Company, and a few individual commenters suggested that the accident reporting requirement in this rule should be modeled after the accident reporting requirement for manned aircraft, which, among other things, requires an operator to notify NTSB of an accident resulting in death or “serious injury” (see 49 CFR 830.2) or of damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less. (See 49 CFR 830.5(a)(6)).

The Kansas State University UAS Program and Cherokee Nation Technologies said the FAA should follow the NTSB reporting requirement for property damage, but made no comment regarding the injury component of the proposed accident reporting requirement. NTSB also pointed to the manned-aircraft reporting requirement for property damage and suggested the FAA take this, and other criteria included in 49 CFR part 830, into account. An individual commenter pointed out that the NTSB has specific reporting requirements for UAS, and said the FAA’s proposed accident reporting requirement should therefore be amended to begin with the phrase: “In addition to UAS accident/incident reporting requirement of the National Transportation Safety Board… .”
Several other commenters also only addressed the property damage component of the accident reporting requirement. An individual commenter said no accident need be reported where the property damage is considered inconsequential by the owner of the property. SkySpecs recommended a reporting requirement for property damage above $100, or if an insurance report is filed. The Center of Innovation-Aerospace, Georgia Department of Economic Development recommended a $500 threshold, which it said is a common deductible amount for property and automobile insurance. The Oklahoma Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (which explicitly supported the proposed requirement to report all accidents resulting in any injury) expressed concern that a threshold lower than $1,000 would result in unnecessary and burdensome reporting of information and data that would not be beneficial to the FAA, the public, or the industry in general. The American Insurance Association recommended a $5,000 threshold for property damage. The Small UAV Coalition (who also supported the proposed requirement to report accidents causing any injury) said accidents resulting in property damage should only be reportable if the damage caused is to the property of someone not involved in the operation. The commenter did not propose a minimum monetary threshold for this property damage to be reportable.

DJI, which opposed applying the NTSB accident reporting criteria to small UAS, suggested that the FAA look to how other Federal agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, categorize injury by level of severity. Airport Council International-North America and Clean Gulf Associations said the injury component of the proposed accident reporting requirement should be expanded to include a requirement to report all accidents resulting in death.

Two commenters specifically addressed operations in an industrial setting that may result in injury or property damage. The American Chemistry Council said there should be no reporting requirement for operations in an industrial setting that cause workplace injuries that are covered by OSHA reporting requirements or cause less than $25,000 in damage to private property that is owned and operated by the facility owner. Associated General Contractors of America also encouraged the FAA to exclude any operations resulting in “OSHA-recordable” injuries. The commenter further recommended the FAA exclude operations resulting in “de minimis” property damage from the reporting requirement.

The FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that injuries and property damage falling below certain thresholds should not be reportable. Requiring remote pilots in command to report minimal injuries (such as a minor bruise from the unmanned aircraft) or minimal property damage (such as chipping a fleck of paint off an object) would impose a significant burden on the remote pilots. This burden would not correspond to a safety/oversight benefit because an operation resulting in minimal injury or minimal property damage may not correspond with a higher likelihood of a regulatory violation.

In determining the threshold at which to set injury reporting, the FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that the threshold should generally be set at serious injury. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. Within the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with Level 1 being a minor injury, Level 2 moderate, Level 3 serious, Level 4 severe, Level 5 critical, and Level 6 a non-survivable injury. An AIS Level 3 injury is one that is reversible but usually involves overnight hospitalization.

ALIS LEVELSeverityType of Injury
1MinorSuperficial
2ModerateReversible Injury; medical attention required

 

3SeriousReversible injury; hospitalization required
4SevereLife threatening; not fully recoverable without medical care.
5CriticalNon-reversible injury; unrecoverable even with medical care
6Virtually Un-SurvivableFatal

The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations.154 DOT and FAA guidance also express a preference for AIS methodology in classifying injuries for the purpose of evaluating the costs and benefits of FAA regulations.155 Additionally, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses AIS level 3 injuries as the metric evaluating the effectiveness of occupant safety measures for automobiles156 and for estimating the costs
associated with automobile accidents.157 The FAA has significant operational experience administering the serious-injury threshold and because the AIS Level 3 standard is widely used and understood, it is the appropriate injury threshold to use in this rule.

In addition to serious injuries, this rule will also require accident reporting for accidents that result in any loss of consciousness because a brief loss of consciousness may not rise to the level of a serious injury. However, the confined-area-of-operation regulations discussed in section III.E.3 of this preamble, such as the general prohibition on flight over people, are designed with the express purpose of preventing accidents in which a small unmanned aircraft hits a person on the head and causes them to lose consciousness or worse. Thus, if there is a loss of consciousness resulting from a small UAS operation, there may be a higher probability of a regulatory violation.

With regard to the threshold for reporting property damage, the FAA agrees with the Center of Innovation-Aerospace, Georgia Department of Economic Development, which suggested a property damage threshold of $500. Property damage below $500 is minimal and may even be part of the remote pilot in command’s mitigations to ensure the safety of the operation. For example, a remote pilot in command may mitigate risk of loss of positive control by positioning the small UAS operation such that the small unmanned aircraft will hit uninhabited property in the event of a loss of positive control. However, property damage above $500 is not minimal, and as such, this rule will require reporting of a small UAS accident resulting in property damage exceeding $500.

In calculating the property damage, the FAA notes that sometimes, it may be significantly more cost-effective simply to replace a damaged piece of property rather than repair it. As such, for purposes of the accident-reporting requirement of part 107, property damage will be calculated by the lesser of the repair price or fair market value of the damaged property. For example, assume a small UAS accident that damages a piece of property whose fair market value is $200. Assume also that it would cost $600 to repair the damage caused by the small UAS accident. In this scenario, the remote pilot in command would not be required to report the accident because the fair market value would be lower than the repair cost, and the fair market value would be below $500. The outcome would be the same if the values in the scenario are reversed (repair cost of $200 and fair market value of $600) because the lower value (repair cost) would be below $500.

Transport Canada questioned whether small UAS operators would be permitted to continue operating their UAS after experiencing an accident/incident, or whether they would be expected to cease operations until the accident has been reported and the causal factors addressed. In response, the FAA notes that a remote pilot would need to cease operations only if the FAA revokes or suspends the remote pilot certificate or the unmanned aircraft, as a result of the accident, is no longer in a condition for safe operation in accordance with part 107.

A few commenters recommended changes to the 10-day deadline for reporting operations that result in injury or property damage. The American Insurance Association said the reporting deadline should be changed to 10 business days. The Kansas State University UAS Program recommended a 3-day reporting deadline. The Professional

Helicopter Pilots Association and Virginia Department of Aviation recommended a 48-hour reporting deadline, while an individual commenter suggested a 24-hour deadline. The Oregon Department of Aviation also recommended the FAA shorten the proposed 10-day reporting deadline, but did not suggest an alternative deadline. DroneView Technologies suggested a 3-hour reporting deadline.
An accident triggering the reporting requirement of § 107.9 may involve extensive injuries or property damage. The remote pilot in command’s first priority should be responding to the accident by, among other things, ensuring that any injured people receive prompt medical attention. Having to immediately draft an accident report for the FAA may interfere with that priority, and as such, the FAA declines to make the reporting deadline shorter than the 10 calendar days proposed in the NPRM. The FAA also declines to extend the reporting deadline beyond 10 calendar days because 10 days should provide a sufficient amount of time to respond to the accident and draft an accident report for the FAA.

Several other commenters, including NBAA, and NAMIC, recommended that the FAA create an online reporting system. NBAA also recommended the FAA work with NASA to determine what modifications if any would be required to the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) to accommodate small UAS reports. An individual commenter similarly recommended the ASRS be expanded to allow small UAS operators to make reports of unsafe actions on the part of manned aircraft or other small UAS operators. That commenter also suggested the FAA consider creating an online reporting mechanism for operators to voluntarily provide operational data without fear of enforcement actions being taken against them. GAMA requested that the FAA review the agency’s Near-Midair

Collision System (NMACS) incident reporting system to ensure that the existing business rules for reporting NMACs appropriately consider UAS. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi/LSUASC suggested the COA online portal be used for accident reporting. Virginia Commonwealth University Honors Students also stated that reporting of incident data to the U.S. Department of Interior’s SAFECOM system should continue as well.

This rule will allow an accident report to be submitted to the FAA electronically. The part 107 advisory circular provides guidance about how to electronically submit an accident report.
Several commenters recommended that certain incidents other than operations resulting in injury or property damage should also be reportable. The State of Nevada, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, and the Nevada FAA-designated UAS Test Site, commenting jointly, said the accident reporting requirement should be expanded to include a requirement to report any “lost platform” incident. ALPA, AIA, AUVSI, and University of North Carolina System also said the proposed rule should include a reporting requirement for “lost link” or “fly away” incidents. ALPA asserted that such a reporting requirement will allow the FAA to develop hard data on the reliability of these systems and therefore more accurately evaluate risk.
Modovolate said operations that involve complete loss of control or failure of automated safety systems such as airspace exclusion or return to home should also be reportable. An individual commenter said reports should be filed for operations where there is: failure of the control device, failure of the flight control system, flyaway (lateral or vertical), loss of control as a result of either electrical failure or radio interference, or a close encounter with a manned aircraft where the manned aircraft was observed to make “an abrupt avoidance maneuver.” Airport Council International-North America similarly recommended the accident reporting requirement be expanded to include an operation where an operator was required to take evasive action to avoid manned aircraft, especially in cases where such actions took place within 5 miles of airports. The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association recommended a reporting requirement for all accidents involving other aircraft during flight (whether manned or unmanned), as well as all accidents resulting in substantial damage to the operator’s UAS.

CAPA noted that the proposal does not address reporting “HATR or other incidents that do not rise to the level or property damage or injury.” The commenter recommended these incidents be reported and tracked “to ensure this policy is effective and continues to provide safe operating procedures for small UAS operations as they interface with commercial and civil aviation traffic.” ALPA suggested there would be a potential safety benefit to establishing a process for small UAS owners to report malfunctions, identified defects, and other in-service problems. ALPA noted that this operational data could be used in subsequent risk evaluation.

The purpose of the accident-reporting requirement in this rule is to allow the FAA to more effectively allocate its oversight resources by focusing on potential regulatory violations that resulted in accidents. The FAA declines to mandate reporting of other events, such as the ones suggested by the commenters, because they do not rise to the level of a significant accident. The FAA notes, however, that a regulatory violation can occur
482
without resulting in a serious accident and any regulatory violation may be subject to enforcement action.
The FAA also notes that the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is available for voluntary reporting of any aviation safety incident or situation in which aviation safety may have been compromised. The FAA offers ASRS reporters guarantees and incentives to encourage reporting by holding ASRS reports in strict confidence and not using ASRS information against reporters in enforcement actions. Further, the FAA agrees that data collection is a valuable tool for determining a baseline for performance, reliability, and risk assessment. The FAA plans to develop a tool where remote pilots of small UAS can voluntarily share data which may not meet the threshold for accident reporting. This would provide a means for evaluation of operational integrity for small UAS.
NOAA supported the proposed accident reporting requirement, but said it should be expanded to include a requirement to report an operation that results in injury to protected wildlife. NOAA asserted that because many wildlife are also federally regulated, managed, and/or protected species, it is critical that the FAA require reporting of injury to these species, so other Federal agencies and interested parties can assess potential hazards caused by small UAS.
The FAA currently provides a way for all aircraft operators in the NAS to voluntarily report wildlife strikes. Small UAS remote pilots who encounter a wildlife strike may also submit a report. Further, remote pilots may be obligated to report death or injury to wildlife under Federal, State, or local law.

A few commenters opposed the imposition of an accident reporting requirement. Trimble argued that the damage a small UAS can cause is “sufficiently small” that operators should not have an obligation to report an accident to the FAA or NTSB. Instead, the commenter said, if an operator is unable to land a small UAS safely and an incident occurs, the operator should only be required to notify local law enforcement. An individual commenter who opposed a reporting requirement recommended “developing law enforcement relationships to facilitate investigations, insurance claims, etc.”
The FAA disagrees with commenters who suggested that no data should be reported to the FAA. As discussed earlier, the FAA plans to use data collected from these reports to more effectively allocate its oversight resources. In response to the argument that accidents caused by small UAS are small, the FAA notes that reporting for accidents resulting in minor injuries or property damage below $500 will not be required.

The FAA has long-established relationships with law enforcement and values the assistance that law enforcement provides during accident/incident investigations. However, as discussed earlier, the FAA cannot delegate its formal enforcement authority to other entities such as local law enforcement personnel.


Section 107.7  Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.

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§ 107.7   Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.

(a) A remote pilot in command, owner, or person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system must, upon request, make available to the Administrator:

(1) The remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating; and

(2) Any other document, record, or report required to be kept under the regulations of this chapter.

(b) The remote pilot in command, visual observer, owner, operator, or person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system must, upon request, allow the Administrator to make any test or inspection of the small unmanned aircraft system, the remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system, and, if applicable, the visual observer to determine compliance with this part.

My Commentary on § 107.7   Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance:

Notice in paragraph (a) there are three people that are required to turn over certain information: the remote pilot in command, the owner of the aircraft, and a person manipulating the flight controls. This creates an interesting scenario where the OWNER of the aircraft has to turn over the remote pilot certificate of the pilot.

Paragraph (b) is broader than (a). (b) lists the owner and operator which were not listed in paragraph (a) as ALSO being on the hook to allow the FAA to do testing and inspection. Interestingly, the FAA can test and inspect: the UAS, the remote pilot in command, person manipulating the controls, and a visual observer if there is one used.

Advisory Circular 107-2 on § 107.7   Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance.

Nothing

 

FAA’s Discussion on § 107.7   Inspection, testing, and demonstration of compliance from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

1. Inspection, Testing, and Demonstration of Compliance

The FAA’s oversight statutes, codified at 49 U.S.C. 44709 and 46104, provide the FAA with broad investigatory and inspection authority for matters within the FAA’s jurisdiction. Under section 46104, the FAA may subpoena witnesses and records, administer oaths, examine witnesses, and receive evidence at a place in the United States that the FAA designates. Under section 44709, the FAA may “reinspect at any time a civil aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, design organization, production certificate holder, air navigation facility, or agency, or reexamine an airman holding a certificate issued [by the FAA].”

The NPRM proposed to codify the FAA’s oversight authority in proposed § 107.7. First, § 107.7 would require the airman, visual observer, or owner of a small UAS to, upon FAA request, allow the FAA to make any test or inspection of the small unmanned aircraft system, the airman, and, if applicable, the visual observer to determine compliance with the provisions of proposed part 107. Second, § 107.7 would require an airman or owner of a small UAS to, upon FAA request, make available to the FAA any document, record, or report required to be kept by the applicable FAA regulations. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will finalize these provisions as proposed.

The Department of Defense Policy Board on Federal Aviation suggested that § 107.7(a) be reworded to limit its applicability to “civil operators,” not operators in general. The commenter asserted that this change would preserve public operators’ statutory authorities.

As discussed in section III.C.3 of this preamble, the applicability of part 107 is limited to civil aircraft. Thus, part 107 will not apply to public aircraft operations. Because public aircraft operations will not be subject to § 107.7 (or any other provision of part 107) there is no need to amend the regulatory text of § 107.7 with regard to civil aircraft.

The Kansas State University UAS Program asked the FAA to clarify, with respect to §107.7(b), what types of tests or inspections could be performed on the remote pilot or visual observer. Specifically, the commenter suggested that the FAA define whether such persons could be subjected to blood alcohol tests, drug tests, or knowledge tests. They also recommend that the section be reworded to reference § 91.17(c).

Section 107.7(b) codifies the FAA’s authority under 49 U.S.C. 44709 and 46104, which allow the FAA to inspect and investigate the remote pilot. This may involve a review, reinspection, or requalification of the remote pilot. With regard to requalification, 49 U.S.C. 44709 and § 107.7(b) allow the FAA to reexamine a remote pilot if the FAA has sufficient reason to believe that the remote pilot may not be qualified to exercise the privileges of his or her certificate. Additional guidance concerning the reexamination process can be found in FAA Order 8900.1, ch. 7, sec. 1.
Pertaining to the visual observer, as an active participant in small UAS operations, this person may be questioned with regard to his or her involvement in the operation. For example, if an FAA inspector has reason to believe that a visual observer was not provided with the preflight information required by § 107.49, the inspector may ask the visual observer questions to ascertain what happened. Because the visual observer is not an airman, the visual observer will not be subject to reexamination.

With regard to § 91.17(c), the FAA notes that, as discussed in section III.E.7.b of this preamble, § 107.27 will, among other things, require the remote pilot in command, the visual observer, and the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS to comply with § 91.17. This includes compliance with the alcohol-testing requirements of § 91.17(c).

The City and County of Denver, Colorado suggested that airports be given the same rights as those granted to the FAA under §107.7(b). The commenter argued that airport operators have a duty to protect airport property, and that that duty can be fulfilled only when the airport operator has the opportunity to determine the nature and airworthiness of a small UAS.
AUVSI suggested that the FAA allow designated representatives pursuant to 14 CFR part 183 to act on behalf of the Administrator in order to determine compliance with the new regulatory standards. The commenter asserted that the FAA will not have the necessary manpower or financial resources required to allow the UAS industry and its technology to continue to evolve at its own pace. An individual commenter suggested that the FAA delegate compliance and enforcement authority to law enforcement officers and NTSB representatives.

The FAA’s statute does not authorize the agency to delegate its formal enforcement functions. Because it lacks the pertinent statutory authority, the FAA cannot delegate its enforcement functions in the manner suggested by the commenters. The FAA notes, however, that even though it cannot delegate its formal enforcement functions, it has worked closely with outside stakeholders to incorporate their assistance in its oversight processes. For example, the FAA has recently issued guidance to State and local law enforcement agencies to support the partnership between the FAA and these agencies in addressing unauthorized UAS activities. The FAA anticipates continuing its existing partnerships to help detect and address unauthorized UAS activities, and the agency will consider other stakeholders’ requests to be part of the process of ensuring the safe and lawful use of small UAS.

One individual suggested that a remote pilot in command must enable and make available to the FAA any flight log recording if the aircraft and/or control station is capable of creating such a recording. In response, the FAA notes that this rule does not require that a small UAS operation have the capability to create a flight log recording. However, if a small UAS does create such a recording, § 107.7(b) will allow the FAA to inspect the small UAS (including the recording made by the small UAS) to determine compliance with the provisions of part 107.

One individual suggested that the wording of §107.7(b) be modified to permit the FAA to conduct only “non-destructive testing” in the event of a reported violation of one or more provisions of part 107. The commenter asserts that, as written, § 107.7(b) would permit the FAA to “destructively test” every small UAS “on whim.”

The FAA declines this suggestion because there could be circumstances where destructive testing of a small UAS may be necessary to determine compliance with part 107. The FAA emphasizes, however, that this type of decision would not be made lightly and would not be part of a typical FAA inspection. For example, the FAA’s guidance to FAA inspectors about how to conduct a typical ramp inspection specifically focuses on non-destructive methods that the inspector can use to determine whether an aircraft is in compliance with FAA regulations. The FAA anticipates that, just as with manned aircraft, destructive testing of a small UAS will, if ever conducted, occur highly infrequently.

One individual recommended that §107.7 be modified to require a remote pilot to make a photo ID available to the FAA on demand. The FAA did not propose this requirement in the NPRM, and as such, it is beyond the scope of this rule.


107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration.

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§ 107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration.

(a) No person may make or cause to be made—

(1) Any fraudulent or intentionally false record or report that is required to be made, kept, or used to show compliance with any requirement under this part.

(2) Any reproduction or alteration, for fraudulent purpose, of any certificate, rating, authorization, record or report under this part.

(b) The commission by any person of an act prohibited under paragraph (a) of this section is a basis for any of the following:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate or a certificate of waiver,

(2) Suspension or revocation of any certificate or waiver issued by the Administrator under this part and held by that person; or

(3) A civil penalty

 

My Commentary on § 107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration:

Paragraph (a) applies to remote pilots as well as NON-remote pilots.

An act in (a) can be punished by (1)-(3).

(3) is especially useful in situations where the person does not have a remote pilot certificate and does not have any intentions of obtaining one.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on § 107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration

Falsification, Reproduction, or Alteration. The FAA relies on information provided by owners and remote pilots of sUAS when it authorizes operations or when it has to make a compliance determination. Accordingly, the FAA may take appropriate action against an sUAS owner, operator, remote PIC, or anyone else who fraudulently or knowingly provides false records or reports, or otherwise reproduces or alters any records, reports, or other information for fraudulent purposes. Such action could include civil sanctions and the suspension or revocation of a certificate or waiver

 

FAA’s Discussion on § 107.5 Falsification, reproduction or alteration from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

Currently, the U.S. criminal code prohibits fraud and falsification in matters within the jurisdiction of the executive branch. 18 U.S.C. Section 1001.The FAA too may impose civil sanctions in instances of fraud and falsification in matters within its jurisdiction. The FAA has exercised this power in 14 CFR 61.59, 67.403, 121.9, and 139.115, which currently impose civil prohibitions on fraud and false statements made in matters within the FAA’s jurisdiction.

The NPRM proposed to prohibit a person from making a fraudulent or intentionally false record or report that is required for compliance with the provisions of part 107. The NPRM also proposed to prohibit a person from making any reproduction or alteration, for a fraudulent purpose, of any certificate, rating, authorization, record, or report that is made pursuant to part 107. Finally, the NPRM proposed to specify that the commission of a fraudulent or intentionally false act in violation of § 107.5(a) could result in the denial, suspension, or revocation of a certificate or waiver issued by the FAA pursuant to this proposed rule. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will finalize these provisions as proposed with some minor revisions for clarification purposes.

Three organizations and one individual commented on the proposal to prohibit fraud and false statements, and all of those commenters generally supported the proposal. For example, the Small UAV Coalition stated that they support the FAA’s proposal to prohibit intentionally false or fraudulent documents used to show compliance with part 107, and added that such false or fraudulent records or reports warrant enforcement action. One individual supported “heavy fines or jail” for those providing false information.

Two commenters, the University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences and the Institute of Makers of Explosives, requested clarification as to the penalties that could be imposed for violating the prohibition on fraud and false statements. The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences asked whether FAA Order 2150.3B would be applicable in its existing form to operations under part 107 and if so, whether the sanctions guideline ranges described in that publication are appropriate for violations of part 107.

Subpart C of 14 CFR part 13 specifies the penalties that the FAA may impose in response to a regulatory violation. To provide further clarity, the FAA has amended § 107.5 with a list of potential sanctions that could be imposed in response to a violation of § 107.5. Those sanctions may, among other things, include a civil penalty or certificate action. The FAA has also issued generally applicable guidance on sanctions that may be imposed for regulatory violations, which can be found in FAA Order 2150.3B. The FAA is currently considering whether Order 2150.3B addresses UAS-specific considerations that may arise in enforcement actions under part 107, and the agency may revise this order, as appropriate, to reflect this consideration.

 

 


§ 107.3 Definitions.

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§107.3 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this part. If there is a conflict between the definitions of this part and definitions specified in §1.1 of this chapter, the definitions in this part control for purposes of this part:

Control station means an interface used by the remote pilot to control the flight path of the small unmanned aircraft.

Corrective lenses means spectacles or contact lenses.

Small unmanned aircraft means an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft.

Small unmanned aircraft system (small UAS) means a small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.

Unmanned aircraft means an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Visual observer means a person who is designated by the remote pilot in command to assist the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground.

 

My Commentary:

Notice that small unmanned aircraft are UNDER 55 pounds. This means a 55 pound aircraft is NOT a small unmanned aircraft.

Alos notice that this regulation creates definitions in addition to Section 1.1 which has many definitions. If you are having trouble finding a definition, try searching in Section 1.1.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on § 107.3 Definitions.

4.2 Definitions. The following defined terms are used throughout this AC:

4.2.1 Control Station (CS). An interface used by the remote pilot or the person manipulating
the controls to control the flight path of the small UA.
4.2.2 Corrective Lenses. Spectacles or contact lenses.
4.2.3 Model Aircraft. A UA that is:

• Capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
• Flown within VLOS of the person operating the aircraft; and
• Flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

4.2.4 Person Manipulating the Controls. A person other than the remote pilot in command
(PIC) who is controlling the flight of an sUAS under the supervision of the remote PIC.
4.2.5 Remote Pilot in Command (Remote PIC or Remote Pilot). A person who holds a remote
pilot certificate with an sUAS rating and has the final authority and responsibility for the
operation and safety of an sUAS operation conducted under part 107.
4.2.6 Small Unmanned Aircraft (UA). A UA weighing less than 55 pounds, including
everything that is onboard or otherwise attached to the aircraft, and can be flown without
the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.
4.2.7 Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS). A small UA and its associated elements
(including communication links and the components that control the small UA) that are
required for the safe and efficient operation of the small UA in the NAS.
4.2.8 Unmanned Aircraft (UA). An aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human
intervention from within or on the aircraft.
4.2.9 Visual Observer (VO). A person acting as a flightcrew member who assists the small UA
remote PIC and the person manipulating the controls to see and avoid other air traffic or
objects aloft or on the ground.

4.3 Abbreviations/Acronyms Used in the Advisory Circular.

1. AC: Advisory Circular.
2. ACR: Airman Certification Representative.
3. AGL: Above Ground Level.
4. ATC: Air Traffic Control.
5. CFI: Certificated Flight Instructor.
6. CFR: Code of Federal Regulations.
7. DPE: Designated Pilot Examiner.
8. FAA: Federal Aviation Administration.
9. FSDO: Flight Standards District Office.
10. GPS: Global Positioning System.
11. IACRA: Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application.
12. KTC: Knowledge Testing Center.
13. MSL: Mean Sea Level.
14. NOTAM: Notice to Airmen.
15. NAS: National Airspace System.
16. PIC: Pilot in Command.
17. UA: Unmanned Aircraft.
18. UAS: Unmanned Aircraft System.
19. U.S.C.: United States Code.
20. VO: Visual Observer.

FAA’s Discussion on §107.3 Definitions from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

The NPRM proposed to define several terms in part 107 including: (1) control station; (2) corrective lenses; (3) unmanned aircraft; (4) small unmanned aircraft; and (5) small unmanned aircraft system (small UAS).

1. Control Station
The NPRM proposed to define a control station as “an interface used by the operator to control the flight path of the small unmanned aircraft.” The NPRM explained that, unlike a manned aircraft, the interface that is used to control the flight path of a small unmanned aircraft remains outside of the aircraft. The proposed definition was intended to clarify the interface that is considered part of a small UAS under part 107.

NAAA and another commenter agreed with the proposed definition. Transport Canada asked the FAA to consider refining this definition by adding a definition of “control link” to distinguish between command and control functions and communication functions. One commenter asserted that the proposed definition does not encompass instances in which a small UAS’s flight path is preprogrammed via waypoints, and the interface used by the remote pilot is intended simply to commence execution of the program.

The link between the ground control station and the small unmanned aircraft is commonly referred to as the “command and control link” or “C2.” When a communication link between the remote pilot and another person, such as a visual observer or an air traffic controller, is added to C2, it is referred to as “command, control and communications” or “C3.” C2 is an inherent requirement for safe operations, even if the small unmanned aircraft flight is completely autonomous (i.e., preprogrammed flight operations without further input from the remote pilot) because the remote pilot must be able to take direct command of the flight in order to exercise his/her responsibility for collision avoidance, yielding right of way to other aircraft, etc. C3, on the other hand, is only needed if the remote pilot is using the ground control station to communicate with another person directly involved in the operation, such as a visual observer. Because this rule does not require multi-person operations, the definition of a ground control station will not include the requirement for a communications link.

Furthermore, as technology advances, the concept and use of C2 and C3 could change significantly. Omitting a rigid regulatory definition of these terms in this rule will allow them to evolve as technology changes.

2. Corrective Lenses
In connection with the visual-line-of-sight requirements in the NPRM, the FAA proposed to define the term “corrective lenses” as “spectacles or contact lenses.” The FAA explained that, unlike other vision-enhancing devices, spectacles and contact lenses do not restrict a user’s peripheral vision, and thus could be used to satisfy the visual-line-of-sight requirements proposed in the NPRM. The FAA did not receive any adverse comments on this proposed definition, and thus finalizes the proposed definition of “corrective lenses” in this rule without change.

3. Unmanned Aircraft
The NPRM proposed to define “unmanned aircraft” as “an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” This proposed definition would codify the statutory definition of “unmanned aircraft” specified in Public Law 112-95, section 331(8).

MAPPS stated that the definition of “unmanned aircraft” needs to be clarified because the current definition leaves open the possibility that paper airplanes, model airplanes, model rockets, and toys could be considered unmanned aircraft. The Permanent Editorial Board of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct Initiative stated that this definition and the definition of small unmanned aircraft may permit infant passengers and asked the FAA to amend the definition to categorically prohibit the carriage of passengers on an unmanned aircraft.
The definition of unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft” is a statutory definition and, as such, this rule will finalize that definition as proposed. In response to MAPPS’ comment, as discussed in section III.C.5 of this preamble, part 107 will not apply to operations governed by part 101. Those operations include model aircraft, moored balloons, kites, amateur rockets, and unmanned free balloons. With regard to carriage of infants on small unmanned aircraft, this concern is addressed by other provisions in this rule that prohibit careless or reckless operations that endanger the life of another person.

4. Small Unmanned Aircraft
The NPRM proposed to define “small unmanned aircraft” as “an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds including everything that is on board the aircraft.” The NPRM noted that Public Law 112-95, section 331(6) defines a small unmanned aircraft as “an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.” However, the NPRM pointed out that this statutory definition does not specify whether the 55-pound weight limit refers to the total weight of the aircraft at the time of takeoff (which would encompass the weight of the aircraft and any payload on board) or simply the weight of an empty aircraft. The NPRM proposed to define small unmanned aircraft using total takeoff weight because: (1) heavier aircraft generally pose greater amounts of public risk in the event of an accident, because they can do more damage to people and property on the ground; and (2) this approach would be similar to the approach that the FAA has taken with other aircraft, such as large aircraft, light-sport aircraft, and small aircraft.

Commenters including AOPA, ALPA, and the Helicopter Association International, supported the proposed definition. The New England Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicles International and Devens IOP, commenting jointly, pointed out that there are commercial applications being developed that will need to exceed 55 pounds. Event 38 Unmanned Systems stated that rather than segregate small unmanned aircraft by total weight, the FAA should use a “kinetic energy split” that combines weight and speed.
Several commenters asked that the 55-pound weight limit be lowered. Event 38 Unmanned Systems recommended an initial weight restriction of 10 pounds, with adjustments based on subsequent research. Prioria Robotics, Inc. stated that the weight limitation for small unmanned aircraft should be less than 25 pounds, and that the definition should include a requirement that the aircraft be “hand-launchable.” Another commenter asked for the weight limit to be reduced to 33 pounds.

Green Vegans stated that FAA must provide test data on the collision impact of a 55-pound UAS, traveling at various speeds, on both humans and birds. The advocacy group argued that the public cannot make informed comments on the proposed weight limitation without such data. The advocacy group also noted that such data would be provided by a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement, which the group stated the FAA must do. Crew Systems similarly opposed the maximum weight limitation, arguing that FAA provided no justification for it. The company asserted that a 55-pound UAS is large enough to be hazardous when operated in an urban environment, even if care is taken. Although it did not expressly object to the weight limitation, the United States Ultralight Association also expressed concern about the significant damage that a 50-plus-pound unmanned aircraft could do to light, open-cockpit aircraft.

Other commenters asked the FAA to increase the 55-pound weight limit. Consumers Energy Company objected to the definition’s proposed weight limitation as too light, arguing that a 55-pound weight restriction will negatively impact small UAS flight times and the usage of alternative fuel sources. Consumers Energy urged the FAA to consider fuel loads and to increase the weight restriction to 120 pounds. The commenter also suggested that, if the FAA has concerns about safety, it could create subcategories under which maximum weight restriction is imposed on the fuel load, rather than adopt a blanket weight restriction. Several commenters also suggested higher weight limits, including: 80 pounds; a range of 30-100 pounds; and 150 pounds. Another commenter called the weight restriction “arbitrary,” and noted that other States have defined small UAS to include unmanned aircraft weighing up to 150 kilograms.

One commenter suggested that the FAA amend the definition of small unmanned aircraft to include aircraft weighing exactly 55 pounds. Another commenter stated that the definition of “small unmanned aircraft” must be clarified to account for different types of UAS (e.g., fixed-wing, rotor-wing, small, medium, large).

The definition of “small unmanned aircraft” is a statutory definition. Specifically, Public Law 112-95, section 331(6) defines a small unmanned aircraft as “an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.” Accordingly, this rule will retain the statutory definition, which includes 55 pounds as the weight limit for a small unmanned aircraft. However, the FAA emphasizes that, as discussed in section III.A of this preamble, this rule is merely one step of UAS integration into the NAS. As such, the FAA anticipates that future rulemakings will integrate larger UAS into the NAS and thus enable additional commercial opportunities.

Several commenters discussed the ambiguity in the statutory definition with regard to how the 55-pound weight limit should be calculated. The Small UAV Coalition and Federal Airways & Airspace supported the inclusion of payload in the weight calculation. Conversely, DJI, the Associated General Contractors of America, and another commenter questioned whether the 55-pound weight limitation should include payload that is carried by the small unmanned aircraft. DJI argued that the FAA does not consider the weight of payload in its regulations governing the operation of ultralights. Kapture Digital Media stated that the 55-pound weight limit should not include the weight of the battery.

As noted in the NPRM, the FAA uses total takeoff weight for multiple different types of aircraft, including large aircraft, light-sport aircraft, and small aircraft. One of the reasons that the FAA uses total takeoff weight in all of these regulations is because in the event of a crash, a heavier aircraft can do more damage to people and property on the ground than a lighter aircraft. In evaluating this type of risk for a small UAS, it is the total mass of the small unmanned aircraft that is important; the manner in which that mass is achieved is irrelevant. In other words, a 50-pound unmanned aircraft carrying 30 pounds of payload does not pose a smaller risk than an 80-pound unmanned aircraft that is not carrying any payload. As such, this rule will retain the proposed inclusion of everything onboard the aircraft in the 55-pound weight limit of a small unmanned aircraft.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) pointed out that, although the FAA typically points to maximum takeoff weight when identifying an aircraft’s weight and associated mass, the proposed definition of small unmanned aircraft does not include the term “takeoff.” As such, GAMA recommended that the FAA modify the definition to reference the point of takeoff as follows: “Small unmanned aircraft means an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds including everything that is on board the aircraft on takeoff.” Another commenter stated that the choice of “on board” in the definition of “small unmanned aircraft” will create confusion, because these aircraft routinely have “attached” external payloads because there is little room for internal “on board” payloads.
The FAA agrees with these comments and has modified the proposed definition to refer to the total aircraft weight at takeoff and to include possible external attachments to the aircraft in the calculation of small unmanned aircraft weight.

5. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (small UAS)
Finally, the NPRM proposed a definition of “small unmanned aircraft system” as “a small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.” The NPRM explained that this proposed definition would be similar to the statutory definition of UAS specified in Public Law 112-95, section 331(9), except that it does not include a “pilot in command” reference that appears in the statute. The FAA did not include the “pilot in command” reference in the proposed definition of small UAS because that position did not exist under the NPRM. Even though the FAA is creating a remote pilot in command position in this final rule, the FAA considers adding a reference to that position in the small UAS definition as unnecessary.

AirShip Technologies Group, Inc. (AirShip Technologies) supported the proposed definition. Conversely, Transport Canada asked the FAA to consider whether it would be better to use the ICAO terminology of remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) instead of small UAS. Foxtrot Consulting, LLC stated that the inclusion of the phrase “associated elements (including communications links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft)” in the definition of small UAS creates a “regulatory nightmare,” because it means cellular network providers and their infrastructure are considered part of a small UAS. The commenter pointed out that small UAS can be controlled via Wi-Fi and cellular networks, which opens enormous capabilities to small UAS operations. The commenter went on, however, to question whether, as a result of the proposed definition, a cellular provider is liable if a UAS being controlled through their network causes damage to property, serious injury, or death.

The proposed definition of small UAS is derived from the statutory definition of “unmanned aircraft system” in Public Law 112-95, § 331(9). As such, this final rule will codify the proposed definition. Because Congress has selected the term “unmanned aircraft system” to describe this type of a system, the FAA may not use a different term, such as RPAS, in this rule.
With regard to cellular providers, the requirements of this rule apply only to the remote pilot, the owner of the small UAS, and people who may be involved in the operation of the small UAS. As such, a cellular provider whose involvement in the small UAS operation is limited to a remote pilot simply using the provider’s infrastructure would not be in violation of part 107 if something were to go wrong. The FAA does not opine on liability issues that are beyond the scope of this rule, such as whether the provider may be liable to the remote pilot or third parties under tort or contract law.
The NextGen Air Transportation Program at NC State University and another commenter recommended specifically stating that tethered powered small UAS are considered small UAS under proposed part 107. In response to these comments, the FAA notes that the definition of small UAS in this rule includes tethered powered small UAS.

6. Other Definitions
One commenter asked the FAA to define the term “aerial photography” in the regulatory text. However, with the exception of operations involving the transportation of property, part 107 does not contain any requirements specific to the use to which a small UAS is put. For example, a small UAS used for aerial photography will be subject to the same operating restrictions as a small UAS used for bridge inspection, precision agriculture, or utility inspection. Because this rule does not contain any requirements specific to aerial photography, no definition of the term is necessary.