Jonathan Rupprecht


Singer v. City of Newton-(Case Declaring Local Drone Law Illegal)

The City of Newton, Massachusetts passed a drone ordinance on December 19, 2016. The ordinance requires all drones to be registered, bans drones below 400ft above ground level without property owner permission, and prohibits flights beyond the visual line of sight of the operator.

Dr. Michael Singer, a medical doctor and professor at Harvard, filed suit in the federal district court of Massachusetts. On September 21, 2017, the court ruled that four provisions of the local ordinance were conflict preempted.
 

Table of Contents:

The Problematic Provisions of Newton’s Drone Ordinance
Brief Discussion on Preemption
District Court’s Ruling
How Does the Singer v. City of Newton Case Affect Me?
How Can I Use This Case?
Warning to States, Cities, and Local Governments
Problems With This Ruling/Issues Not Addressed
Actual Text of the Ruling
Actual Text of the Ordinance

The Problematic Provisions of Newton’s Drone Ordinance

The City of Newton passed an ordinance which regulated the flight of all unmanned aircraft. The ordinance that passed had multiple provisions but Singer challenged 4 of them. Interesting to note, at the time of this lawsuit, Massachusetts didn’t have an state level drone laws.  I have organized the ordinance provisions below to ease in conceptualization.

1. Registration.
Section (b) of the ordinance says, “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either individually or as a member of a club . . . .”

2. Operational Restrictions.
A. Altitude
Subsection (c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude of 400 feet over any private property without the express permission of the property owner.

Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight over public property, at any altitude, without prior permission from Newton.

B. Beyond Line of Sight of the Operator
Subsection (c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.” The Ordinance neither defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

Brief Discussion on Preemption

Article 6 of the United States Constitution basically stands for where federal and state law interact/conflict, federal law wins. This is called preemption. There are two types of preemption: express and implied preemption. Express is easy to figure out as the law states it clearly. However, with implied preemption, things are more difficult. Courts have to figure what to do, or really what Congress should have said, but didn’t, and now the court has to clean up the mess. There are two types of implied preemption: field and conflict. Field preemption is where courts infer that Congress has regulated the area so much that they did not intend to leave any area of that field available to be regulated by the states. Conflict preemption is where courts imply that Congress did not intend to allow state laws to substantially frustrate the implementation of the federal law.
Dr. Michael Singer filed the lawsuit and alleged the 4 provisions above were field and conflict preempted by federal statutes and federal regulations.

District Court’s Ruling:

The court ruled the local ordinance was conflict preempted. Singer raised 4 issues and the court responded to each them.

1. Registration.

Section (b) of the ordinance says, “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either individually or as a member of a club . . . .”

Court: The City of Newton argued that the Taylor v. FAA case created a void to allow registration however there is no void created by the Taylor case. The FAA intended to be the exclusive register of unmanned aircraft. Therefore, this ordinance is conflict preempted.

2. Operational Restrictions.
A. Altitude

Subsection (c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude of 400 feet over any private property without the express permission of the property owner.

Court: This is conflict preempted because Congress intended the FAA to use airspace to integrate drones. The FAA picked 0-400ft above ground level for non-recreational flyers. This ordinance effectively frustrates Congress’ and FAA’s implementation of the integration of drones into the national airspace from 0-400ft above the ground level.

Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight over public property, at any altitude, without prior permission from Newton.

Court: This is conflict preempted because there is no altitude limit, it goes up into navigable airspace.

B. Beyond Line of Sight of the Operator

Subsection (c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.” The Ordinance neither defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

Court: The Ordinance seeks to regulate the method of operating of drones, necessarily implicating the safe operation of aircraft. Courts have recognized that aviation safety is an area of exclusive federal regulation. The Ordinance limits the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated, while also reaching into navigable space. Intervening in the FAA’s careful regulation of aircraft safety cannot stand; thus subsection (c)(1)(b) is preempted.

In short, drone registration, complete drone bans, regulating navigable airspace, or limiting “the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated” are conflict preempted.

How Does the Singer v. City of Newton Case Affect Me?

This case is only binding in the jurisdiction of the federal district court of Massachusetts. It only struck down 4 provisions of the ordinance, not all of it.  Courts from other jurisdictions can look at this ruling but do NOT need to follow it. I suspect, however, other courts will likely follow the same rationale and invalidate state and local drone laws on the grounds they are conflict preempted ONLY. They will likely not answer field preemption questions.

Keep in mind that this case can be appealed to the 1st Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine) and ruled upon which would result in more people being affected. I don’t know if it will be appealed.

How Can I Use This Case?

This case is extremely important in giving state and local governments guidance on what not to do. You should send this case to any elected officials who have passed a drone law or who are considering passing a drone law.

Warning to States, Cities, and Local Governments:

Many states, cities, towns, etc. have passed drone laws which would most likely be held by this judge to be conflict preempted. This ruling is only for the jurisdiction of the federal district court of Massachusetts, but other courts around the country can be persuaded by the reasoning in this ruling. In other words, this judge teed up how other courts can easily answer these preemption laws.

This judge ruled that drone registration, complete drone bans, regulating navigable airspace, and limiting “the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated” are all conflict preempted.

Problems With This Ruling/Issues Not Addressed:

• The court ruled on the grounds of conflict preemption but did not rule that aviation was field preempted or whether the airspace was expressly preempted.
• United States v. Causby is a U.S. Supreme Court case which raises the idea of a person owning airspace from the ground up to the “immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere.” What if the City of Newton were to create drone laws that applied to Causby airspace over their property or require permission to operate in Causby airspace over private property?
• The judge gave too much deference to the FAA’s guidance document to state and local governments when preemption is primarily focusing on Congress, not an agency’s thoughts, which constantly change, on what it thinks Congress wanted.
• With conflict preemption, the City of Newton can just go back and rework the law and see if Singer files suit again or see if they get struck down again. It would have been more beneficial for the drone industry to have a ruling on whether the airspace was expressly preempted or the field of aviation is field preempted. Instead, the court ruled very narrowly to resolve the case, but leave many issues on the table.
• The court struck down particular provisions which means other states and sub-divisions will just rework their laws to not step on any of the particular “land mines” that the City of Newton stepped on.
• How low does navigable airspace descend for drones? I would argue it goes all the way to the blade of grass because that is where drones take off and land from but the judge seems to indicate navigable airspace is somehow related to 14 CFR 91.119.
• What happens if the state or government does a copy-paste of the FAA regulations or says something along the lines of “You must do whatever the FAA says”?

Actual Text of the Ruling

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

 

MICHAEL S. SINGER,

Plaintiff,

CITY OF NEWTON,

Defendant.

 

YOUNG, D.J. September 21, 2017

 

FINDINGS OF FACT, RULINGS OF LAW, & ORDER

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

The crux of this dispute is whether portions of a certain

ordinance (the “Ordinance”) passed by the City of Newton

(“Newton”) on December 19, 2016 are preempted. First Am. Compl.

Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, ECF No. 12. Michael S.

Singer (“Singer”) challenges portions of the Ordinance which

require that all owners of pilotless aircraft (commonly referred

to as “drones” or “UAS”) register their pilotless aircraft with

Newton, and also prohibit operation of pilotless aircraft out of

the operator’s line of sight or in certain areas without permit

or express permission. Id.; Def. City Newton’s Mem. Law Supp.

Cross Mot. Summ. J. and Opp’n Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2, Newton

Ordinances § 20-64, ECF No. 40-3.

 

 

In early March, Newton answered Singer’s complaint, Answer

Def. City of Newton First Am. Compl., ECF No. 17, and both

parties appeared before the Court soon after, when they agreed

to cross-file motions for summary judgment and proceed on a case

stated basis,1 Electronic Clerk’s Notes, ECF No. 21. Both

parties subsequently filed motions for summary judgment, Pl.’s

Corrected Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 34; Def. City of Newton’s Cross

Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 39, and fully briefed the issues, Pl.’s

Corrected Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.’s Mem.”), ECF No. 35;

Pl.’s Resp. Def.’s Cross-Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.’s Resp.”), ECF No.

50; Pl.’s Resp. City’s Statement Undisputed Facts (“Pl.’s Resp.

Facts”), ECF No. 51; Def. City Newton’s Mem. Law Supp. Cross

Mot. Summ. J. and Opp’n Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.’s Mem.”), ECF

No. 40; Def. City of Newton’s Statement Undisputed Facts Supp.

Cross Mot. Summ. J. and Resps. Pl.’s Statement Undisputed

Material Facts Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.’s Facts”), ECF No. 41;

1 The case stated procedure allows the Court, with the

parties’ agreement, to render a judgment based on the largely

undisputed record in cases where there are minimal factual

disputes. TLT Constr. Corp. v. RI, Inc., 484 F.3d 130, 135 n.6

(1st Cir. 2007). In its review of the record, “[t]he [C]ourt is

. . . entitled to ‘engage in a certain amount of factfinding,

including the drawing of inferences.’” Id. (quoting United

Paperworkers Int’l Union Local 14 v. International Paper Co., 64

F.3d 28, 31 (1st Cir. 1995)).See also Amici Curiae Br. (“Amicus Br.”), ECF No. 57.2 After

oral argument on June 13, 2017, this Court took the matter under

advisement. Electronic Clerk’s Notes, ECF No. 59.

 

2. FINDINGS OF FACT

Newton is a municipality in the Commonwealth of

Massachusetts and is organized under a charter pursuant to the

Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution. Pl.’s

Resp. Facts ¶ 1; Def.’s Facts ¶ 1. Singer resides in Newton.

Am. Compl. ¶ 22. He is a Federal Aviation Administration

(“FAA”)-certified small unmanned aircraft pilot and owns and

operates multiple drones in Newton. Id. ¶¶ 22, 25. Singer does

not operate or register his drones as a hobbyist. Tr. Case-

Stated Hearing (“Tr.”) 20:15-18, ECF No. 60.

In August 2015, members of Newton’s City Council proposed

discussing the possibility of regulating drones for the

principal purpose of protecting the privacy interests of

Newton’s residents. Pl.’s Resp. Facts ¶ 3; Def.’s Facts ¶ 3.

On March 23, 2016, an initial draft of the Ordinance was

presented for discussion. See Def.’s Mem., Ex. 3, Public Safety

& Transportation Committee Report dated Mar. 23, 2016 1, ECF No.

40-4. Following further inquiry and amendment, see, e.g.,

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 7, Public Safety & Transportation Committee

Report dated May 5, 2016 1, ECF No. 40-8; Def.’s Mem., Ex. 9,

Public Safety & Transportation Committee Report dated Sept. 7,

2016 6-7, ECF No. 40-10, but without FAA approval, Def.’s Mem.,

Ex. 16, Def. City of Newton’s Answers Pl.’s First Set Interrogs.

(“Def.’s Answers Interrogs.”) 3, ECF No. 40-17, Newton’s City

Council approved the final Ordinance on December 19, 2016,

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 12, Public Safety & Transportation Committee

Report dated Dec. 19, 2016 1, ECF No. 40-13.

 

The Ordinance states in part:

Purpose: The use of pilotless aircraft is an increasingly

popular pastime as well as learning tool. It is important

to allow beneficial uses of these devices while also

protecting the privacy of residents throughout the City.

In order to prevent nuisances and other disturbances of the

enjoyment of both public and private space, regulation of

pilotless aircraft is required. The following section is

intended to promote the public safety and welfare of the

City and its residents. In furtherance of its stated

purpose, this section is intended to be read and

interpreted in harmony with all relevant rules and

regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, and any

other federal, state and local laws and regulations.

 

 

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 2, Newton Ordinances § 20-64, ECF No. 40-3.

“Pilotless aircraft” is defined as “an unmanned, powered aerial

vehicle, weighing less than 55 pounds, that is operated without

direct human contact from within or on the aircraft.” Id. § 20-

64(a). In section (b), the Ordinance imposes certain

registration requirements upon owners of all pilotless aircraft.

Id. § 20-64(b). Section (c) sets forth operating prohibitions, including, inter alia, a ban on the use of a pilotless aircraft

below an altitude of 400 feet over private property without the

express permission of the owner of the private property, id.

  • 20-64(c)(1)(a), “beyond the visual line of sight of the

Operator,” id. § 20-64(c)(1)(b), “in a manner that interferes

with any manned aircraft,” id. § 20-64(c)(1)(c), over Newton

city property without prior permission, id. § 20-64(c)(1)(e), or

to conduct surveillance or invade any place where a person has a

reasonable expectation of privacy, id. § 20-64(c)(1)(f)-(g).

Violations of the Ordinance are punishable by a $50 fine

following a one-time warning. Id. § 20-64(f).

 

III. RULINGS OF LAW

Specifically, Singer challenges four subsections of the

Ordinance: the registration requirements of section (b) and the

operation limits of subsections (c)(1)(a), (c)(1)(b), and

(c)(1)(e). Pl.’s Mem 3-4; Pl.’s Resp. i. Singer argues that

the Ordinance is preempted by federal law because it attempts to

regulate an almost exclusively federal area of law, Pl.’s Mem.

6-15, in a way that conflicts with Congress’s purpose, id. at

14-15. In turn, Newton posits that the Ordinance is not

preempted by federal law because it falls within an area of law

that the FAA expressly carved out for local governments to

regulate, Def.’s Mem. 8-10, and thus can be read in harmony with

federal aviation laws and regulations, id. at 10-11.

A. Preemption Standards

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

provides that federal laws are supreme, U.S. Const. art. VI, cl.

2, thus requiring that federal laws preempt any conflicting

state or local regulations, see Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S.

725, 746 (1981) (citing McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 427

(1819)). Under our federalist system, however, a court must be

wary of invalidating laws in areas traditionally left to the

states unless the court is entirely convinced that Congress

intended to override state regulation. See, e.g., Gregory v.

Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 460 (1991) (citing Atascadero State

Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 243 (1985)). In contrast, if a

state government attempts to regulate an area traditionally

occupied by the federal government, a court need not seek to

avoid preemption. See United States v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89, 108

(2000). Neither of these circumstances requires that Congress

explicitly have stated its purpose; “[t]he question, at bottom,

is one of statutory intent.” Morales v. Trans World Airlines,

Inc., 504 U.S. 374, 383 (1992).

 

If Congress has not expressly preempted an area of law,

then a court must determine whether field or conflict preemption

is evident. See French v. Pan Am Express, Inc., 869 F.2d 1, 2

(1st Cir. 1989). Field preemption occurs where federal

regulation is so pervasive and dominant that one can infer

Congressional intent to occupy the field. See Massachusetts

Ass’n of Health Maint. Orgs. v. Ruthardt, 194 F.3d 176, 179 (1st

Cir. 1999) (citing Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S.

218, 230 (1947); French, 869 F.2d at 2). Conflict preemption

arises when compliance with both state and federal regulations

is impossible or if state law obstructs the objectives of the

federal regulation. See Grant’s Dairy – Me., LLC v.

Commissioner of Me. Dept. of Agric., Food & Rural Res., 232 F.3d

8, 15 (1st Cir. 2000) (citing Gade v. National Solid Wastes

Mgmt. Ass’n, 505 U.S. 88, 98 (1992)).

B. The Federal Aviation Administration

Congress has stated that “[t]he United States Government

has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.” 49

U.S.C. § 40103(a)(1). This declaration does not preclude states

or municipalities from passing any valid aviation regulations,

see Braniff Airways v. Nebraska State Bd. of Equalization &

Assessment, 347 U.S. 590, 595 (1954), but courts generally

recognize that Congress extensively controls much of the field,

see, e.g., Chicago & S. Air Lines, Inc. v. Waterman Steamship

Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 105, 107 (1948); United Parcel Serv., Inc.

Flores-Galarza, 318 F.3d 323, 336 (1st Cir. 2003).

Accordingly, where a state’s exercise of police power infringes

upon the federal government’s regulation of aviation, state law

is preempted. See City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal

Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 638-39 (1973).

In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress

directed the FAA to “develop a comprehensive plan to safely

accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems

into the national airspace system,” FAA Modernization and Reform

Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332, 126 Stat. 11, 73 (2012)

(codified at 49 U.S.C. § 40101 note), while limiting the FAA

from “promulgat[ing] any rule or regulation regarding a model

aircraft,” id. § 336(a). Under this directive, the FAA

promulgated 14 C.F.R. part 107, which declares that it “applies

to the registration, airman certification, and operation of

civil small unmanned aircraft systems[3] within the United

States.” 14 C.F.R. § 107.1(a). The rule requires, inter alia,

that anyone controlling a small unmanned aircraft system

register with the FAA, id. §§ 91.203, 107.13; and keep the

aircraft within the visual line of sight of the operator or a

designated visual observer, id. §§ 107.3, 107.31, and below an

altitude of 400 feet above ground level or within a 400 foot

radius of a structure, id. § 107.51(b).

 

 

  1. Field Preemption

Singer argues that because the federal government regulates

unmanned aircraft and local aircraft operations, there is

federal intent to occupy the field. Pl.’s Mem. 6-11; Pl.’s

Resp. 3; see also Amicus Br. 7-29. Newton does not challenge

that aviation is a traditionally federal field, but counters

that federal regulations explicitly grant local authorities the

power to co-regulate unmanned aircraft. Def.’s Mem. 8-11.

The FAA has stated:

 

[C]ertain legal aspects concerning small UAS use may be

best addressed at the State or local level. For example,

State law and other legal protections for individual

privacy may provide recourse for a person whose privacy may

be affected through another person’s use of a UAS.

. . . The Fact Sheet also summarizes the Federal

responsibility for ensuring the safety of flight as well as

the safety of people and property on the ground as a result

of the operation of aircraft. Substantial air safety

issues are implicated when State or local governments

attempt to regulate the operation of aircraft in the

national airspace. The Fact Sheet provides examples of

State and local laws affecting UAS for which consultation

with the FAA is recommended and those that are likely to

fall within State and local government authority. For

example, consultation with FAA is recommended when State or

local governments enact operation UAS restrictions on

flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; or any

regulation of the navigable airspace. The Fact Sheet also

notes that laws traditionally related to State and local

police power — including land use, zoning, privacy,

trespass, and law enforcement operations — generally are

not subject to Federal regulation.

 

81 Fed. Reg. 42063 § (III)(K)(6). Thus, the FAA explicitly

contemplates state or local regulation of pilotless aircraft,

defeating Singer’s argument that the whole field is exclusive to the federal government. The FAA’s guidance, however, does not

go quite as far as Newton argues — rather than an express

carve-out for state and localities to regulate, the guidance

hints that whether parallel regulations are enforceable depends

on the principles of conflict preemption.4

D. Conflict Preemption

Singer argues that the challenged sections of the Ordinance

obstruct federal objectives and directly conflict with federal

regulations. Pl.’s Mem. 11-17. Newton fails to respond

specifically to these arguments, again asserting that the FAA

has granted states and localities the power to co-regulate

pilotless aircraft. Def.’s Mem. 8-11. The Court addresses each

challenged subsection of the Ordinance in turn.

 

  1. Section (b)

Singer argues that section (b) of the Ordinance infringes

upon and impermissibly exceeds the FAA’s exclusive registration

requirements. Pl.’s Mem. 11-15; Pl.’s Resp. 6-7. Section (b)

states: “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their

pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either

individually or as a member of a club . . . .” Newton

Ordinances § 20-64(b). The Ordinance defines “pilotless aircraft” as “an unmanned, powered aerial vehicle, weighing less

than 55 pounds, that is operated without direct human contact

from within or on the aircraft.” Id. § 20-64(a).

The FAA has also implemented mandatory registration of

certain drones. See 14 C.F.R. §§ 48.1-48.205. Although such

registration initially applied both to model and commercial

drones, the FAA may not require registration of model aircraft,

because doing so would directly conflict with the Congressional

mandate in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. See Taylor v.

Huerta, 856 F.3d 1089, 1092, 1094 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Newton

argues that this space creates a void in which the city may

regulate drones. Tr. 9:5-10:1. The FAA, however, explicitly

has indicated its intent to be the exclusive regulatory

authority for registration of pilotless aircraft: “Because

Federal registration is the exclusive means for registering UAS

for purposes of operating an aircraft in navigable airspace, no

state or local government may impose an additional registration

requirement on the operation of UAS in navigable airspace

without first obtaining FAA approval.” Def.’s Mem., Ex. 14,

State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Fact Sheet5 (“FAA UAS Fact Sheet”) 2, ECF No. 40-15. Newton did

5 Although the FAA UAS Fact Sheet is not a formal rule, it

is the FAA’s interpretation of its own rule, which this Court

accords deference under Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325

U.S. 410, 413-14 (1945). not obtain FAA approval before enacting the Ordinance. Def.’s

Answers Interrogs. 3. Further, regardless of whether there is

some space that would allow Newton to require registration of

model drones, here Newton seeks to register all drones, Tr.

10:3-14, without limit as to the at which altitude they operate,

in clear derogation of the FAA’s intended authority.

Accordingly, the Ordinance’s registration requirements are

preempted.

 

  1. Subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e)

Singer argues that subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e)

conflict with FAA-permitted flight, Pl.’s Mem. 11, and restrict

flight within the navigable airspace, id. at 12-14. Subsection

(c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude

of 400 feet over any private property without the express

permission of the property owner. Newton Ordinances § 20-

64(c)(1)(a). Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft

flight over public property without prior permission from

Newton. Id. § 20-64(c)(1)(e). Notably, subsection (c)(1)(e)

does not limit its reach to any altitude. See id. This alone

is a ground for preemption of the subsection because it

certainly reaches into navigable airspace, see 49 U.S.C.

40102(a)(32); 14 C.F.R. § 91.119. Subsections (c)(1)(a) and

(c)(1)(e) work in tandem, however, to create an essential ban on

drone use within the limits of Newton. Nowhere in the city may an individual operate a drone without first having permission

from the owner of the land below, be that Newton or a private

landowner.

 

The FAA is charged with “prescrib[ing] air traffic

regulations on the flight of aircraft . . . for —

(A) navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft;

(B) protecting individuals and property on the ground; [and]

(C) using the navigable airspace efficiently.” 49 U.S.C.

40103(b)(2). In 2012, Congress tasked the FAA with

“develop[ing] a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the

integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national

airspace system.” Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332. In so doing, the

FAA mandated that drone operators keep drones below an altitude

of 400 feet from the ground or a structure. 14 C.F.R.

107.51(b). Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below

this altitude thus works to eliminate any drone use in the

confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not

only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the

FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace. Although

Congress and the FAA may have contemplated co-regulation of

drones to a certain extent, see 81 Fed. Reg. 42063

  • (III)(K)(6), this hardly permits an interpretation that

essentially constitutes a wholesale ban on drone use in Newton.

Accordingly, subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e) are preempted.

 

  1. Subsection (c)(1)(b)

Singer argues that subsection (c)(1)(b) conflicts with the

FAA’s visual observer rule and related waiver process, which

only the FAA can modify. Pl.’s Mem. 13 (citing 49 U.S.C.

  • 106(f)(2), (g)(1); 14 C.F.R. §§ 107.31, 107.205). Subsection

(c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at

a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.”

Newton Ordinances § 20-64(c)(1)(b). The Ordinance neither

defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

The FAA “requires a delicate balance between safety and

efficiency, and the protection of persons on the ground . . . .

The interdependence of these factors requires a uniform and

exclusive system of federal regulation.” City of Burbank, 411

U.S. at 638-39 (internal citations omitted). The Ordinance

seeks to regulate the method of operating of drones, necessarily

implicating the safe operation of aircraft. Courts have

recognized that aviation safety is an area of exclusive federal

regulation. See, e.g., Goodspeed Airport LLC v. East Haddam

Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Comm’n, 634 F.3d 206, 208 (2d

Cir. 2011) (“Congress has established its intent to occupy the

entire field of air safety, thereby preempting state regulation

of that field.”); US Airways, Inc. v. O’Donnell, 627 F.3d 1318,

1326 (10th Cir. 2010) (“[F]ederal regulation occupies the field

of aviation safety to the exclusion of state regulations.”); Montalvo v. Spirit Airlines, 508 F.3d 464, 470 (9th Cir. 2007)

(“Congress has indicated its intent to occupy the field of

aviation safety.”). The First Circuit, in fact, has ruled “that

Congress intended to occupy the field of pilot regulation

related to air safety.” French, 869 F.2d at 4. In French, the

First Circuit took note of Congress’s delegation of authority to

the FAA to issue the certificate — and the terms for obtaining

it — required for any person to pilot a commercial aircraft.

See id. at 3. Concluding that this grant of authority and the

FAA’s subsequent regulations expressed Congress’s intent to

preempt any state law in the area, id. at 4, the First Circuit

struck down Rhode Island’s statute requiring airline pilots to

submit to drug testing, see id. at 7.

 

The circumstances are not so different here. Congress has

given the FAA the responsibility of regulating the use of

airspace for aircraft navigation and to protect individuals and

property on the ground, 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(2), and has

specifically directed the FAA to integrate drones into the

national airspace system, Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332. In

furtherance of this duty, the FAA has designated specific rules

regarding the visual line of sight for pilotless aircraft

operation. See 14 C.F.R. §§ 107.31-35, 107.205. First, the FAA

requires either that (1) a remote pilot both command and

manipulate the flight controls or (2) a visual observer be able to see the drone throughout its flight. Id. § 107.31. The

regulations define “visual observer” as “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.” Id. § 107.3. Second, the FAA allows

waiver of the visual observer rule. Id. §§ 107.200, 205.

The Ordinance limits the methods of piloting a drone beyond

that which the FAA has already designated, while also reaching

into navigable space. See Newton Ordinances § 20-64(c)(1)(b).

Intervening in the FAA’s careful regulation of aircraft safety

cannot stand; thus subsection (c)(1)(b) is preempted.

 

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, this Court holds that Ordinance

sections (b), (c)(1)(a), (c)(1)(b), and (c)(1)(e) are preempted

and judgment will enter so declaring. As it is unchallenged,

the remainder of Newton’s Ordinance stands. Of course, nothing

prevents Newton from re-drafting the Ordinance to avoid conflict

preemption.

 

SO ORDERED.

/s/ William G. Young

WILLIAM G. YOUNG

DISTRICT JUDGE

 

Actual Text of Newton’s Ordinance

Sec. 20-64. Pilotless Aircraft Operation.

Purpose: The use of pilotless aircraft is an increasingly popular pastime as well as learning tool. It is important

to allow beneficial uses of these devices while also protecting the privacy of residents throughout the City. In

order to prevent nuisances and other disturbances of the enjoyment of both public and private space, regulation of

pilotless aircraft is required. The following section is intended to promote the public safety and welfare of the City

and its residents. In furtherance of its stated purpose, this section is intended to be read and interpreted in harmony

with all relevant rules and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, and any other federal, state and

local laws and regulations.

 

(a) Definitions:

Pilotless Aircraft – an unmanned, powered aerial vehicle, weighing less than 55 pounds, that is operated

without direct human contact from within or on the aircraft.

(b) Registration: Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office,

either individually or as a member of a club, as follows:

(1) Individual Registration: Individual owners of pilotless aircraft shall register each pilotless aircraft with the

City Clerk’s office, prior to operation. The cost of registration shall be $10.00 per Owner and such cost of

registration shall include all pilotless aircraft owned by the Owner. Owners must have proof of

registration in their possession when operating a pilotless aircraft. Registration shall include the

following:

  1. a) The owner’s name, address, email address and phone number;
  2. b) The make, model, and serial number, if available, of each pilotless aircraft to be registered;
  3. c) A copy of the Owner’s Federal Aviation Administration Certificate of Registration for pilotless

aircraft;

 

(2) Club Registration: Members of a pilotless aircraft hobby club may register their pilotless aircraft through a

responsible adult member of the Club. Each Club shall be issued a single identifying registration number

by the City Clerk’s Office to be affixed to each pilotless aircraft belonging to members of the Club. The

cost of Club Registration shall be $10 per Club and the cost of registration shall include all members of

that Club. The responsible adult member shall update the Club’s roster of members with the Clerk’s

office on an annual basis. All other requirements of Section 2(a)(i-iii) shall apply to Club registration.

(c) Operating Prohibitions. The use and operation of all pilotless aircraft within the City shall be subject to the

following prohibitions.

(1) No pilotless aircraft shall be operated:

  1. a) over private property at an altitude below 400 feet without the express permission of the owner of said private property;
  2. b) at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator;
  3. c) in a manner that interferes with any manned aircraft;
  4. d) in a reckless, careless or negligent manner;
  5. e) over any school, school grounds, or other City property or sporting event without prior permission

from the City, unless a permit is required as in Section 4, below;

  1. f) for the purpose of conducting surveillance unless expressly permitted by law or court order;
  2. g) for the purpose of capturing a person’s visual image, audio recording or other physical impression in

any place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy;

  1. h) over any emergency response efforts;
  2. i) with the intent to harass, annoy, or assault a person, or to create or cause a public nuisance;
  3. j) in violation of federal or state law, or any Ordinance of the City of Newton.

(2) The Chief of Police, or designee, may prohibit the use or operation of pilotless aircraft where it is allowed,

or allow the operation of pilotless aircraft where it is prohibited, during an impending or existing

emergency, or when such use or operation would pose a threat to public safety.

(d) Permit May be Required:

 

(1) Individual Permits: A permit may be required to use land maintained by the Parks and Recreation

Department, or by any other Department or Commission of the City, to launch or land a pilotless aircraft.

Such permits may be issued by the Parks and Recreation Department Head, or designee, or the City entity

charged with managing the property, or designee. Individual operators shall adhere to the registration

requirements of Section 2 above.

 

(2) Event Permits: The Parks and Recreation Department, or any Department or Commission charged with

managing land owned by the City, may issue Permits for groups and special events. Such Event Permits

will be issued to a responsible person who will insure that all operators participating in the event adhere to

the requirements of this ordinance, except that individual participants in an event under this subsection are

not required to register in accordance with Section 2.

 

(3) Educational Permits: The Parks and Recreation Department, or any other City agency with authority over

the use and maintenance of City land, may permit the operation of pilotless aircraft for educational

purposes. Educational permits must be issued to a responsible adult, and in conjunction with an

educational purpose sanctioned by an educational organization.

 

(e) Noise Ordinance: All Operators shall comply with the Noise Ordinance at Section 20-13, as amended, at all

times while operating pilotless aircraft within the City.

(f) Penalties: A violation of any section of this Ordinance shall result in a warning for the first offense and shall

be punishable by a fine of $50.00 for each offense thereafter.

(g) Separate Violations: Action taken pursuant to this section shall not bar any separate action by any other City

Department for any other violations.

(h) Severability: If any provision of this section is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction then

such provision shall be considered severable from the remaining provisions, which shall remain in full force and

effect.

(i) Regulations: The City and its Departments may promulgate rules, regulations and policies for the

implementation of this Ordinance. (Ord. No. A-96, 12-19-16)


Safe Drone Act of 2017 (S. 1410 from Sen. Warner)

 

drone-legislation-capitol-buildingInterested in drone legislation? Click here for my U.S. drone legislation directory.

Background of the Safe Drone Act of 2017

On June 22, 2017, Senator Warner of Virginia introduced into the Safe Drone Act of 2017. The act is supported by Sen. Hoeven, Sen. Cortez Masto, and Sen. Heller.  On the day it was introduced, it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

My guess is that like most drone legislation, the Safe Drone Act will not go anywhere.

Summary of the Safe Drone Act of 2017

-Calls for the FAA to create guidance for rapid issuance of exemptions, waivers, or authorizations for disasters.

-Calls for the DOT and NASA to work on a plan to create an unmanned traffic management system to be presented within a year.

-The DOT is to designate a group of 2 year colleges and trade schools centers of excellence.

-5 million is to be given to implement the section defining the centers of excellence.

-The creation of a working group on spectrum management and a call for a report to congress.

-Calls for a working group on beyond the visual line of sight of the operator and over people operations.

-Requires the FAA to start rulemaking to create regulations for “operations over people, operations beyond the visual line of sight of the operator, operations at night, and operations of multiple unmanned aircraft systems[.]”

-Gives 14 million EACH year to the FAA to split up among the test ranges for research and development.

-Modifies the definition of the Section 336 protected flyers to make them obtain prior authorization prior to operating in B,C, D, or E at the surface airspace; registration; and requires that the flyers completes an online safety course.

-Defines a community based organization and calls for the FAA to create a list of community based organizations that is publicly accessible.

-Directs the director of the Office of Management and Budget to “exempt from the definitions of “regulation” and “rule” for the purposes of that Executive order any final action taken by the Secretary of Transportation or the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration on or after January 30, 2017, primarily related to unmanned aircraft systems.”

-Tells the Comptroller General to submit a report to congress on developments and protections relating to cybersecurity and operational control concerns with respect to unmanned aircraft systems, recommendations for developments and protections, and recommendations for clearly defining Federal jurisdiction and oversight of unmanned aircraft system security matters.

Pros:

-There is money attached to some of these directives such as the test rangers doing R & D and the implementation of the centers of excellence.

-There is an emphasis on getting 2 year colleges and technical school to start training people to use drones.

Cons:

-Prior authorizations for model aircraft flyers? Are you insane!  The system is extremely swamped and it would greatly cause backlogs.

-There is nothing in here regarding telling the FAA to step up enforcement actions against drone flyers or appropriating money to hire more attorneys to prosecute.

-Looks like a land grab by the AMA to try and get themselves defined as a CBO and maybe start making it harder for others to get listed as such.

Questions Raised by/Suggestions for Safe Drone Act:

Section 3 wants the FAA “to publish guidance for applications for, and procedures for the processing of, on an emergency basis, exemptions or certificates of authorization or waiver for the use of unmanned aircraft systems by or on behalf of civil or public operators in response to a catastrophe, disaster, or other emergency[.]”  The FAA already does this with the ACOA process for civil and public aircraft operators so I’m not sure why this is even in here. Maybe they want rapid exemptions and waivers done but why would you want that? Emergency personnel and first responders should have their act together before a disaster.

Seriously, get some money to the FAA to hire more attorneys. Additionally, there should be a call from Congress to change the FAA’s position on enforcement actions. The FAA has done very little enforcement under their relaxed enforcement standards.

 Actual Text of the  Safe Drone Act

 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Safe Development, Research, and Opportunities Needed for Entrepreneurship Act of 2017” or the “Safe DRONE Act of 2017”.

 

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

Except as otherwise specifically provided, in this Act, the terms “unmanned aircraft”, “unmanned aircraft system”, and “small unmanned aircraft” have the meanings given those terms in section 331 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note).

 

SEC. 3. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON EMERGENCY EXEMPTION PROCESS.

It is the sense of Congress that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration should comply as soon as possible, and not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, with the requirement under section 2207 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (Public Law 114–19049 U.S.C. 40101 note) to publish guidance for applications for, and procedures for the processing of, on an emergency basis, exemptions or certificates of authorization or waiver for the use of unmanned aircraft systems by or on behalf of civil or public operators in response to a catastrophe, disaster, or other emergency to facilitate emergency response operations, such as firefighting, search and rescue, post-catastrophic response operations, such as utility and infrastructure restoration efforts, and the safe and prompt processing, adjustment, and payment of insurance claims.

 

SEC. 4. PLAN FOR FULL OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT.

(a) In General.—The Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and industry stakeholders, shall develop an implementation plan to achieve full operational capability of unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (in this section referred to as “UTM”) and ensure the safety and security of all aircraft.

(b) Requirements.—In developing the plan required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall—

(1) establish a timeline for certifying an operational capability of UTM as safe and approved for use;

(2) establish criteria to be used to certify a UTM system under paragraph (1), including the demonstration and validation of such a system at the test ranges designated under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note); and

(3) outline the roles of industry and government in establishing an operational UTM.

(c) Assessments.—The plan required by subsection (a) shall include an assessment of various components necessary for and possible with the full operational capability of UTM, including—

(1) identification of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;

(2) deconfliction of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;

(3) mitigation of effects of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;

(4) the extent that UTM may rely on or use resources of the Federal Government;

(5) the need for additional detect-and-avoid technologies to detect cooperative and noncooperative aircraft;

(6) interoperability with traditional air traffic management services and technology;

(7) the potential for UTM to manage higher altitude operations of unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aircraft systems weighing more than 55 pounds; and

(8) cybersecurity protections and national security benefits.

(d) Deadline.—Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall—

(1) complete the plan required by subsection (a);

(2) submit the plan to—

(A) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives; and

(3) publish the plan on a publicly accessible Internet website of the Federal Aviation Administration.

 

SEC. 5. COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE IN SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY TRAINING.

(a) Designation.—Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor, shall, subject to paragraph (2), designate consortia of public, 2-year institutions of higher education as Community and Technical College Centers of Excellence in Small Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Training (in this section referred to as the “Centers of Excellence”).

(b) Functions.—The Centers of Excellence shall seek to expand their capacity to train students for career opportunities in industry and government service related to the use of small unmanned aircraft systems, including by—

(1) admitting more students;

(2) training faculty;

(3) expanding facilities;

(4) establishing new career pathways from secondary school to associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs; and

(5) awarding credit for prior learning experience, including military service.

(c) Education And Training Requirements.—The Centers of Excellence shall address education and training requirements associated with various types of small unmanned aircraft systems, components, and related equipment, including with respect to—

(1) multi-rotor and fixed-wing small unmanned aircraft;

(2) flight systems, radio controllers, components, and characteristics of such aircraft;

(3) routine maintenance, uses and applications, privacy concerns, safety, and insurance for such aircraft;

(4) hands-on flight practice using small model quadcopters and computer simulator training;

(5) use of small unmanned aircraft in various industry applications and local, State, and Federal Government programs and services, including in agriculture, law enforcement, monitoring oil and gas pipelines, natural disaster response and recovery, fire and emergency services, and other emerging areas;

(6) Federal policies concerning small unmanned aircraft;

(7) dual credit programs to deliver small unmanned aircraft training opportunities to secondary school students; and

(8) training with respect to sensors and the processing, analyzing, and visualizing of data collected by small unmanned aircraft.

(d) Collaboration.—The Centers of Excellence shall seek to collaborate with institutions participating in the Alliance for System Safetyof UAS through Research Excellence of the Federal Aviation Administration and with the test ranges designated under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note).

(e) Authorization Of Appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Transportation $5,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2018 through 2023 to carry out this section.

(f) Institution Of Higher Education.—In this section, the term “institution of higher education” has the meaning given the term in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001).

 

SEC. 6. INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP ON COORDINATED FEDERAL POLICY FOR COMMUNICATIONS AMONG UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) Sense Of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) a Federal policy for communications among unmanned aircraft systems, which may include communications through spectrum, wireless, or broadcast networks, or other means, requires coordination among Federal agencies in order to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system; and

(2) a policy described in paragraph (1) should ensure safety, promote investment, and foster innovation to benefit all unmanned aircraft systems stakeholders, including manufacturers, operators, and consumers.

(b) Establishment Of Working Group.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Assistant Secretary and the Chairman shall establish a working group to make recommendations with respect to the coordination of Federal policy for communications among unmanned aircraft systems to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

(c) Membership.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The working group established under subsection (b) shall be composed of Federal stakeholders described in paragraph (2) and non-Federal stakeholders described in paragraph (3).

(2) FEDERAL STAKEHOLDERS.—The Federal stakeholders described in this paragraph are representatives of—

(A) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration;

(B) the Federal Communications Commission;

(C) the Federal Aviation Administration;

(D) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration;

(E) the Department of Defense;

(F) the Department of Homeland Security;

(G) the Department of Justice; and

(H) any other Federal agency the Assistant Secretary considers appropriate.

(3) NON-FEDERAL STAKEHOLDERS.—The non-Federal stakeholders described in this paragraph are representatives of—

(A) unmanned aircraft systems manufacturers;

(B) unmanned aircraft systems operators;

(C) customers or end users of data collected by unmanned aircraft systems operators;

(D) unmanned aircraft systems technology providers;

(E) commercial radio spectrum license holders;

(F) operators of commercial services in unlicensed spectrum allocations;

(G) commercial radio equipment manufacturers;

(H) appropriate standards-setting organizations; and

(I) the test ranges designated under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note).

(d) Considerations.—In making recommendations under subsection (b), the working group established under that subsection shall consider current and anticipated communications needs for unmanned aircraft systems, including the development of—

(1) sense-and-avoid and detect-and-avoid technology;

(2) payload data transmissions;

(3) communications link integration in unmanned aircraft systems;

(4) appropriate standards for communications links for various altitudes, aircraft, and operations;

(5) traditional and unmanned aircraft system air traffic management technology;

(6) command and control at high altitudes;

(7) shared spectrum access and management technologies, including dynamic spectrum-sharing schemes, contention-based protocols, and cognitive radio capabilities;

(8) internationally harmonized communications standards; and

(9) radio-frequency communications security standards.

(e) Report To Congress.—Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter through January 1, 2023, the Assistant Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the status of the development of a Federal policy for communications among unmanned aircraft systems, including—

(1) a summary of considerations under subsection (d); and

(2) recommendations for legislative or regulatory action related to that policy that is necessary to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

(f) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) ASSISTANT SECRETARY.—The term “Assistant Secretary” means the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information.

(2) CHAIRMAN.—The term “Chairman” means the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

 

SEC. 7. INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP ON ENHANCED SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) In General.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall establish an interagency working group—

(1) to examine methods and structures to enhance the safety and security of expanded operations by small unmanned aircraft that involve operations beyond the visual line of sight of the operator and over people; and

(2) to clearly delineate roles and responsibilities among agencies participating in the working group in determining proper safety and security-related obligations and oversight.

(b) Membership.—The interagency working group established under subsection (a) shall, in addition to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Secretary of Homeland Security, be composed of the following:

(1) The Secretary of Defense.

(2) The Attorney General.

(3) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(4) The heads of such other Federal agencies as the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration considers appropriate.

(c) Consultations.—The interagency working group established under subsection (a) shall regularly consult with representatives of—

(1) unmanned aircraft systems industry organizations and stakeholders; and

(2) the test ranges designated under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note).

(d) Report.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the interagency working group established under subsection (a) shall—

(1) develop conclusions and recommendations with respect to the matters specified in that subsection; and

(2) submit to Congress a report on such conclusions and recommendations.

(e) Rulemaking.—Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall release for public comment a notice of proposed rulemaking to modify part 107 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to allow for operations by small unmanned aircraft, including operations over people, operations beyond the visual line of sight of the operator, operations at night, and operations of multiple unmanned aircraft systems by a single remote pilot.

 

SEC. 8. EXTENSION OF PILOT PROGRAM FOR INTEGRATION UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS INTO THE NATIONAL AIRSPACE SYSTEM.

(a) In General.—Section 332(c)(1) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended by striking “September 30, 2019” and inserting “September 30, 2024”.

(b) Authorization Of Appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration $14,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2024 to carry out the pilot program under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note), to be distributed among the test ranges designated under that section for further research and development on the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

 

SEC. 9. EXCEPTION FOR HOBBYIST-OPERATED SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) In General.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person may operate an unmanned aircraft without specific operating authority from the Federal Aviation Administration if—

(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;

(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with the safety guidelines of a community-based organization that have been published in a publically accessible format by the Federal Aviation Administration;

(3) the aircraft is not flown beyond visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or persons colocated with and in direct communication with the person operating the aircraft;

(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft and does not pose undue hazard to any other aircraft, obstacle, or person;

(5)

(A) the operator

(i) obtains prior authorization from air traffic control before operating in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport; and

(ii) complies with all temporary and permanent airspace restrictions in place for the furtherance of security and law enforcement interests; or

(B) in the case of an operator conducting operations from a permanent location within such airspace or a community-based organization conducting a sanctioned event at a fixed site within such airspace, establishes a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport);

(6) the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level, except under special conditions and programs established by a community-based organization;

(7) the aircraft is registered and marked in accordance with chapter 441 of title 49, United States Code, and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a law enforcement agency upon request; and

(8) the operator has completed an online safety course administered by the Federal Aviation Administration for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems under this section, and proof of completion of the safety course is made available to the Administrator or a law enforcement agency upon request.

(b) Updates.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator, in collaboration with government and industry stakeholders, including community-based organizations, shall initiate a process to periodically update the operational parameters under subsection (a), as appropriate.

(2) CONSIDERATIONS.—In updating an operational parameter under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall consider—

(A) appropriate operational limitations to mitigate aviation safety risk and risk to the uninvolved public;

(B) operations outside the membership, guidelines, and programming of a community-based organization;

(C) physical characteristics, technical standards, and classes of aircraft operating under this section;

(D) trends in use, enforcement, or incidents involving unmanned aircraft systems;

(E) ensuring, to the greatest extent practicable, that updates to the operational parameters correspond to, and leverage, advances in technology; and

(F) equipage requirements that facilitate operations and further integrate all unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, such as through unmanned aircraft system traffic management and remote identification and tracking.

(3) RULEMAKING.—The Administrator may prescribe regulations for hobbyist-operated small unmanned aircraft based on the process established under paragraph (1).

(c) Rules Of Construction.—Nothing in this section shall be construed—

(1) to expand the authority of the Administrator to require operators of small unmanned aircraft operating under an exemption under subsection (a) to be required to seek authorization from the Administrator before conducting an operation in the national airspace system other than as required by subsection (a); or

(2) to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue an enforcement action against persons operating small unmanned aircraft in violation of this section or any other provision of law.

(d) List Of Community-Based Organizations.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall maintain on a publicly available Internet website of the Federal Aviation Administration a list of community-based organizations under which small unmanned aircraft may be operated in accordance with subsection (a).

(2) INCLUSION OF ORGANIZATIONS.—The Administrator may include a community-based organization on the list required by paragraph (1) if the organization submits to the Federal Aviation Administration—

(A) a statement that the organization meets the definition of “community-based organization” under subsection (e); and

(B) the safety guidelines of the organization.

(3) REMOVAL.—The Administrator may remove a community-based organization from the list required by paragraph (1).

(4) GUIDANCE.—The Administrator shall publish guidance on the process for including community-based organizations on, and removing such organizations, from the list required by paragraph (1).

(e) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION.—The term “community-based organization” means an organization that—

(A) represents the aeromodeling and hobby and recreational unmanned aircraft community within the United States;

(B) provides its members a comprehensive set of safety guidelines that underscore safe operations of unmanned aircraft within the national airspace system and the protection and safety of the general public on the ground;

(C) develops and maintains mutually supportive programming with educational institutions, government entities, and other aviation associations; and

(D) acts as a liaison with government agencies as an advocate for its members.

(2) SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term “small unmanned aircraft” means an unmanned aircraft that—

(A) is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; and

(B) weighs less than 55 pounds, including the weight of anything attached to or carried by the aircraft, unless otherwise approved through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization.

(f) Conforming Repeal.—Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–9549 U.S.C. 40101 note) and the item relating to that section in the table of contents for that Act are repealed.

 

SEC. 10. ENSURING CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM INDUSTRY.

Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, consistent with section 4(c) of Executive Order 13771 (82 Fed. Reg. 9339; relating to reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs), shall exempt from the definitions of “regulation” and “rule” for the purposes of that Executive order any final action taken by the Secretary of Transportation or the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration on or after January 30, 2017, primarily related to unmanned aircraft systems.

 

SEC. 11. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE REPORT ON CYBERSECURITY AND OPERATIONAL CONCERNS.

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report—

(1) describing developments and protections relating to cybersecurity and operational control concerns with respect to unmanned aircraft systems;

(2) making recommendations for developments and protections described in paragraph (1) that could better address such concerns; and

(3) making recommendations for clearly defining Federal jurisdiction and oversight of unmanned aircraft system security matters.


Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017 (H.R.3644/S.1755)

Drone-Operator-Safety-Act-of-2017

Quick Summary of the Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017:

The Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017 is a proposed bill that makes it a federal misdemeanor to: (1)  fly unmanned aircraft in the runway exclusion zone of an airport (red zone in the picture to the left) without air traffic control authorization or (2) “operate an unmanned aircraft and, in so doing, knowingly or recklessly interfering with, or disrupting the operation of, an aircraft or other airborne vehicle carrying 1 or more occupants operating in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, in a manner that poses an imminent safety hazard to such occupants[.]”

This applies to all unmanned aircraft.

A federal misdemeanor can be punished up to 1 year in federal prison and/or a $100,000 fine. If the person attempts or causes serious bodily injury or death with a drone, the crime is punishable up to life in prison.

This article is part of my Drone Legislation Database.

Background of the Drone Operator Safety Act:

The Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017 was introduced on August 4, 2017 by  Congressman Langevin (HR 3644) and on August 3, 2017 by Senator Whitehouse  (SB 1755). If this act’s name sounds familiar, it is because Congressman Langevin introduced a bill with the same name in 2016 that is very similar; however, this is NOT to be confused with:

This bill is somewhat similar to the 2016 Drone Operator Safety Act. The main difference is in regards to how the exclusion zone is defined. The 2016 version applied “class B, class C, or class D airspace” while the 2017 version says “an airport” which means it can apply to ALL airports.

Summary of the Drone Operator Safety Act:

The Drone Operator Safety Act is the culmination of the overall growing sentiment in Congress that drones should not operate near airports. There is research being put into drone countermeasures, drone detection, and drone jamming but there needs to be “teeth” as to how to counter the actual flyer of the drone, not just the aircraft.

It creates this runway exclusion zone that extends 1 mile off the end of the runway. The only way you can fly in the runway exclusion zone is if you have authorization.Flying in this runway exclusion zone is a federal misdemeanor punishable up to a year in federal prison and/or a $100,000 fine; however, if the misdemeanor results in death, they could be fined $250,000. See 18 U.S.C.  § 3559 and 18 U.S.C. § 3571.

In addition to the runway exclusion zone, it creates a crime that can happen ANYWHERE. The penalty for flying “knowingly or recklessly interfering with, or disrupting the operation of, an aircraft or other airborne vehicle carrying 1 or more occupants operating in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, in a manner that poses an imminent safety hazard to such occupants.” A violation of this is punishable up to a year in federal prison and/or a $100,000 fine unless death happens which then makes the fine up to $250,000.

It also forbids attempted or caused great bodily harm or death and allows for punishment up to life in prison. This kind of makes sense. A prosecutor needs to have a wide range of punishments to work with when prosecuting. The federal crime of attempted murder with a gun is a maximum of 20 years; however, if you are trying to take out an airliner, that is like 130+ attempts of murder.

Pros:

  • It will deter people from flying drones next to airports or aircraft. This is good because I’m tired of the drone “near misses” that are reported on the news which are later used for justification for some state or local laws.
  • It will force commercial drone operators to use the FAA authorization process to obtain a FAA authorization which basically will act like the get out of jail free card.

Cons:

  • I’ve seen this before where over-zealous law enforcement will arrest a person claiming the drone was being operated in the sky near an aircraft (whatever “near” means) which in the officer’s opinion would have killed everyone if there was a collision. This is exactly what happened in the Turgeon case in North Dakota. A law enforcement officer arrested him and he was charged with 2 counts of reckless endangerment and 1 felony level reckless endangerment (because the officer thought he could have taken out the airplane flying overhead). Turgeon later was found not guilty. The Turgeon case was NOT an outlier.  Wilkins Mendoza and Remy Castro were both charged under New York’s felony careless and reckless laws, but prosecutors dropped their case. See also my article on the 23 enforcement actions the FAA did where 19 of them were prosecuted under state law also. These laws are easy to arrest under but hard to prosecute.
  • It applies to “airports” which means you can get in trouble flying in the runway exclusion zone of a middle-of-nowhere “po-dunk” class G airport that rarely sees any traffic. “Airports needs to be defined better to be narrow.
  • It is written so broadly that I can see helicopter pilots, crop dusters, etc. all getting more aggressive with drone operators. I think it would be wise to create some type of language that this interference charge cannot happen below a certain altitude (200 or 400ft AGL) or within a certain distance of a structure. Hobbyists do not have any altitude restrictions like the 107 operators do (400ft AGL).This way loitering airplanes and helicopters cannot be used to suppress drones being used underneath them. Think about it, if you want to hide something, you just fly manned aircraft up in the sky and arrest whoever flys their drone. Any journalists see a problem here?
  • I don’t believe all the airport phone lines are recorded (that is what a FAA FOIA processor told me) so there are potential situations where hobbyists could get permission but have no proof of authorization to fly in the exclusion zone.
  • There are no air traffic control towers for many of the airports out there so this creates a problem. Furthermore, the FAA is not giving out authorizations under Part 107 to class G airports.

Questions Raised/Suggestions:

  • Except for the exclusion zone, create a 0- 200ft AGL “safe zone” where drone operators cannot be prosecuted. This can be used to prevent people from using this law to suppress drone journalism.
  • What type of “airports” are covered? There are thousands of airports all over the U.S. but a large chunk of them are private or quiet small class G airports. Only so many airports really matter. The FAA got away from trying to deal with “airports” and instead worded Part 107 to require authorization to operate in class B, C, D, or E at the surface airspace. I think this act should go back to the class, B, C, or D distinction.
  • Another reason to go back to B, C, or D classification is you can’t get authorization from the FAA to operate near class G airports. Class G and class E at the surface airports 99% of the time don’t have air traffic control towers to get authorizations from. Moreover, a lot of the class G and class E at the surface airports don’t receive much traffic.
  • The text says, “received prior authorization for the operation from the air traffic control tower at the airport” but how does this work with FAA’s new LAANC system?
  • Make it a crime to knowingly create false drone sightings or over-exaggerate the closeness of the drone.
  • Maybe the FAA should create a tip line where informants get paid if there is a prosecution.

 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017’’.

 

SECTION. 2. UNSAFE OPERATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Chapter 2 of title 18, United States Code, is amended—

(1) in section 31—

(A) in subsection (a)—

(i) by redesignating paragraph (10) as paragraph (11); and

(ii) by inserting after paragraph (9) the following:

‘‘(10) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term ‘unmanned aircraft’ has the meaning given that term in section 331 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note).’’; and

(B) in subsection (b), by inserting ‘‘ ‘airport’,’’ before ‘‘ ‘appliance’,’’; and

(2) by inserting after section 39A the following:

‘‘§ 39B. Unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft

‘‘(a) OFFENSE.—It shall be unlawful to operate an unmanned aircraft and, in so doing, knowingly or recklessly interfering with, or disrupting the operation of, an aircraft or other airborne vehicle carrying 1 or more occupants operating in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, in a manner that poses an imminent safety hazard to such occupants.

‘‘(b) PENALTY.—

‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), a person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.

‘‘(2) SERIOUS BODILY INJURY OR DEATH.—Any person who attempts to cause, or knowingly or recklessly causes, serious bodily injury or death while violating subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both.

‘‘(c) OPERATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO AIRPORTS.—

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The operation of an unmanned aircraft, including an operation covered by section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note), within a runway exclusion zone shall be considered a violation of subsection (a) unless—

 ‘‘(A) the operation of the unmanned aircraft received prior authorization for the operation from the air traffic control tower at the airport; or

‘‘(B) the operation is the result of a circumstance, such as a malfunction, that could not have been reasonably foreseen or prevented by the operator.

‘‘(2) RUNWAY EXCLUSION ZONE DEFINED.—In this subsection, the term ‘runway exclusion zone’  means a rectangular area—

‘‘(A) centered on the centerline of a runway of an airport; and

‘‘(B) the length of which extends parallel to the runway’s centerline to points that are 1 statute mile from each end of the runway and the width of which is 1⁄2 statute mile.’’.

(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for chapter 2 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 39A the following:

‘‘39B. Unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft.’’


Drone Legislation Directory (Updated to 2017)

drone-legislation-capitol-buildingI’m going to break the Drone Legislation Directory up into two sections: passed drone legislation and proposed drone legislation.

I’m using the term very loosely to apply to laws that affect hobby/civilian drones in some way. For example, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 is primarily military focused but made it legal for the Secretary of Defense to shoot down civilian drones over certain locations.

This page applies ONLY to federal drone legislation, not state. Interested in passed state drone laws? I have a whole page on drone laws (state and international).

I’m presently working on this article so there are gaps and missing proposed acts. I should have them all up sometime soon.

Passed Drone Legislation

Proposed Drone Legislation

Most of these bills were proposed but died very shortly after being introduced.

2017

  1. 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R.2997) from Rep. Shuster.
  2. Drone Operator Safety Act of 2017 (H.R.3644/S.1755) Senator Whitehouse & Representative Langevin
  3. Safe DRONE Act of 2017 (S1410) from Senator Mark Warner.
  4. FLIGHT R&D Act (H.R.3198 ) from Rep. Knight
  5. Aeronautics Innovation Act (H.R.3033) from Rep. Knight.
  6. Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.1405 ) from Sen. Thune.
  7. Drone Innovation Act of 2017 (HR 2930) from Rep. Lewis
  8. Drone Federalism Act of 2017 (S1272) Sen. Feinstein.
  9. Military Asset Protection Act (H.R.1968) from Rep. Dunn
  10. Wildfire Airspace Protection Act of 2017 (H.R.1138) from Rep. Cook.
  11. Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2017 (H.R.1526 ) Rep. Welch and (S631) from Sen. Markey.
  12. No Armed Drones Act of 2017 (HR 129) from Rep. Burgess
  13. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R.2810) from Rep. Thornberry.

2016

 

2015


California Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

Current as of February 21, 2017

 

Caltrans announced their policy here.

 

California Civil Code 43.101.  

(a) An emergency responder shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if that damage was caused while the emergency responder was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of the emergency services listed in Section 853 of the Government Code.

(b)

(1) For purposes of this section, “emergency responder” means either of the following, if acting within the scope of authority implicitly or expressly provided by a local public entity or a public employee of a local public entity to provide emergency services:

(A) A paid or an unpaid volunteer.

(B) A private entity.

(2) All of the following terms shall have the same meaning as the terms as used in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 853) of Part 2 of Division 3.6 of Title 1 of the Government Code:

(A) Local public entity.

(B) Public employee of a local public entity.

(C) Unmanned aircraft.

(D) Unmanned aircraft system.

California Civil Code 1708.8.  

(a) A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.

(b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the person attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the device was used.

(c) An assault or false imprisonment committed with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff is subject to subdivisions (d), (e), and (h).

(d) A person who commits any act described in subdivision (a), (b), or (c) is liable for up to three times the amount of any general and special damages that are proximately caused by the violation of this section. This person may also be liable for punitive damages, subject to proof according to Section 3294. If the plaintiff proves that the invasion of privacy was committed for a commercial purpose, the person shall also be subject to disgorgement to the plaintiff of any proceeds or other consideration obtained as a result of the violation of this section. A person who comes within the description of this subdivision is also subject to a civil fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(e) A person who directs, solicits, actually induces, or actually causes another person, regardless of whether there is an employer-employee relationship, to violate any provision of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) is liable for any general, special, and consequential damages resulting from each said violation. In addition, the person that directs, solicits, actually induces, or actually causes another person, regardless of whether there is an employer-employee relationship, to violate this section shall be liable for punitive damages to the extent that an employer would be subject to punitive damages pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3294. A person who comes within the description of this subdivision is also subject to a civil fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(f)

(1) The transmission, publication, broadcast, sale, offer for sale, or other use of any visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) shall not constitute a violation of this section unless the person, in the first transaction following the taking or capture of the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, publicly transmitted, published, broadcast, sold, or offered for sale the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression with actual knowledge that it was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c), and provided compensation, consideration, or remuneration, monetary or otherwise, for the rights to the unlawfully obtained visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), “actual knowledge” means actual awareness, understanding, and recognition, obtained prior to the time at which the person purchased or acquired the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, that the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c). The plaintiff shall establish actual knowledge by clear and convincing evidence.

(3) Any person that publicly transmits, publishes, broadcasts, sells, or offers for sale, in any form, medium, format, or work, a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was previously publicly transmitted, published, broadcast, sold, or offered for sale by another person, is exempt from liability under this section.

(4) If a person’s first public transmission, publication, broadcast, or sale or offer for sale of a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) does not constitute a violation of this section, that person’s subsequent public transmission, publication, broadcast, sale, or offer for sale, in any form, medium, format, or work, of the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, does not constitute a violation of this section.

(5) This section applies only to a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that is captured or taken in California in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) after January 1, 2010, and shall not apply to any visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression taken or captured outside of California.

(6) Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to impair or limit a special motion to strike pursuant to Section 425.16, 425.17, or 425.18 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(7) This section shall not be construed to limit all other rights or remedies of the plaintiff in law or equity, including, but not limited to, the publication of private facts.

(g) This section shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel or employees of governmental agencies or other entities, either public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment, and supported by an articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of any conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity or other misconduct, the suspected violation of any administrative rule or regulation, a suspected fraudulent conduct, or any activity involving a violation of law or business practices or conduct of public officials adversely affecting the public welfare, health, or safety.

(h) In any action pursuant to this section, the court may grant equitable relief, including, but not limited to, an injunction and restraining order against further violations of subdivision (a), (b), or (c).

(i) The rights and remedies provided in this section are cumulative and in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.

(j) It is not a defense to a violation of this section that no image, recording, or physical impression was captured or sold.

(k) For the purposes of this section, “for a commercial purpose” means any act done with the expectation of a sale, financial gain, or other consideration. A visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression shall not be found to have been, or intended to have been, captured for a commercial purpose unless it is intended to be, or was in fact, sold, published, or transmitted.

(l)

(1) For the purposes of this section, “private, personal, and familial activity” includes, but is not limited to:

(A) Intimate details of the plaintiff’s personal life under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(B) Interaction with the plaintiff’s family or significant others under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(C) If and only after the person has been convicted of violating Section 626.8 of the Penal Code, any activity that occurs when minors are present at any location set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 626.8 of the Penal Code.

(D) Any activity that occurs on a residential property under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(E) Other aspects of the plaintiff’s private affairs or concerns under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(2) “Private, personal, and familial activity” does not include illegal or otherwise criminal activity as delineated in subdivision (g). However, “private, personal, and familial activity” shall include the activities of victims of crime in circumstances under which subdivision (a), (b), or (c) would apply.

(m)

(1) A proceeding to recover the civil fines specified in subdivision (d) or (e) may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction by a county counsel or city attorney.

(2) Fines collected pursuant to this subdivision shall be allocated, as follows:

(A) One-half shall be allocated to the prosecuting agency.

(B) One-half shall be deposited in the Arts and Entertainment Fund, which is hereby created in the State Treasury.

(3) Funds in the Arts and Entertainment Fund created pursuant to paragraph (2) may be expended by the California Arts Council, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to issue grants pursuant to the Dixon-Zenovich-Maddy California Arts Act of 1975 (Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 8750) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code).

(4) The rights and remedies provided in this subdivision are cumulative and in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.

(n) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 521, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2016.)

California Government Code 853.  

A local public entity or public employee of a local public entity shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if the damage was caused while the local public entity or public employee of a local public entity was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of any of the following emergency services:

(a) Emergency medical services or ambulance transport services, including, but not limited to, air ambulance services.

(b) Firefighting or firefighting-related services, including, but not limited to, air services related to firefighting or firefighting-related services.

(c) Search and rescue services, including, but not limited to, air search and rescue services.

California Government Code 853.1

The immunity provided by this chapter is in addition to any other immunity provided to a local public entity or public employee of a local public entity under law.

California Government Code 853.5.  

The following definitions shall apply to this chapter:

(a) “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

(b) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including, but not limited to, communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

California Penal Code 402 

(a)

(1) Every person who goes to the scene of an emergency, or stops at the scene of an emergency, for the purpose of viewing the scene or the activities of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel, or military personnel coping with the emergency in the course of their duties during the time it is necessary for emergency vehicles or those personnel to be at the scene of the emergency or to be moving to or from the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting lives or property, unless it is part of the duties of that person’s employment to view that scene or those activities, and thereby impedes police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel or military personnel, in the performance of their duties in coping with the emergency, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision, a person shall include a person, regardless of his or her location, who operates or uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote piloted aircraft, or drone that is at the scene of an emergency.

(b) Every person who knowingly resists or interferes with the lawful efforts of a lifeguard in the discharge or attempted discharge of an official duty in an emergency situation, when the person knows or reasonably should know that the lifeguard is engaged in the performance of his or her official duty, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) For the purposes of this section, an emergency includes a condition or situation involving injury to persons, damage to property, or peril to the safety of persons or property, which results from a fire, an explosion, an airplane crash, flooding, windstorm damage, a railroad accident, a traffic accident, a powerplant accident, a toxic chemical or biological spill, or any other natural or human-caused event.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 817, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

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How to Get a Drone License Step-by-Step Guide So You Can Make Money

This page is a how-to guide on getting your drone license which has also been called all sorts of things such as a remote pilot certificate, commercial drone license, UAV certificate, drone permit, drone pilot license, etc. The correct term is a remote pilot certificate, but throughout this article, I will be referring to the remote pilot certificate and drone license interchangeably in this article.

This guide is based upon my knowledge as a current FAA certificated flight instructor (CFI & CFII) and aviation attorney. I suggest you take time and skim through the drone license table of contents below which lists many FAQs regarding the drone license. Also below are two step by step portions for brand new pilots trying to obtain their drone license and one for the current manned aircraft pilots seeking to obtain their drone license to fly their drones commercially.

Drone License Guide Table of Contents

Quick FAQ’s Surrounding the “Drone License”  

New Pilot Step-by-Step Guide to Obtain the Drone License

New Pilot Drone License FAQ  

The Drone License TSA Background Check Questions 

Current Manned Aircraft Pilots Step-by-Step Instructions to Obtain the Drone License

Current Pilot FAQ About the Drone License

FAQs From Those with Pending Section 333 Exemptions 

FAQs From Those Who Already Have Section 333 Exemptions  

Want to Continue Learning About Part 107?  

FAA Safety Notice: Tips for CFIs Processing Remote Pilot & Student Pilot Applications Notice Number: NOTC7141  

drone-license-guide-infographic

 

drone-pilot-license-part-107-checklist

Quick FAQ’s Surrounding the “Drone License”

1.Why do you use the term “drone license” in the title of one of your blog posts when the correct term is remote pilot certificate?

I know the correct term is remote pilot certificate; however, when writing a blog post, it is important to write a title that would be understood by new individuals.  If you were new to this area, what would you type in Google?  Drone license or remote pilot certificate? A simple search on search volume shows that “drone license” is more than twice the volume of “remote pilot certificate.” I wrote the articles for first-time pilots, not existing pilots who know how to speak “aviationese.” I also wrote the article to rank high in Google so high-quality information could be found on the drone license not some thrown together article from a professional marketing person who has very little aviation experience.

2. Do I Need a Pilot License’s to Fly a Drone Commercially?

Yes, but it is NOT one of the expensive manned aircraft pilot licenses most people think about. You only need the Part 107 remote pilot certificate (also known as a “drone license”) to operate your drone commercially. This drone license allows you to fly your drone for profit.

 

3. Does My Business Have to Obtain a Drone License to Use Drones?

No, only individuals can obtain the drone license. However, businesses can obtain waivers or authorizations and allow their remote pilots to fly under those. There must be a remote pilot in command for each non-recreational flight and they must possess a current drone license.

 

4. Why Is It Called a Remote Pilot Certificate and Not a Drone Pilot License?

The term “pilot license” is what is used commonly to describe FAA airmen certificates. The FAA certificates aircraft, mechanics, airmen, remote pilots, etc., they don’t license.  For non-recreational drone operators, the proper term is a remote pilot certificate. These certificates are being issued with a small unmanned aircraft rating which means the pilot could only operate a drone that is under 55 pounds. I foresee the FAA adding ratings onto the remote pilot certificate for certain types of operations such as over 55-pound operations, night, beyond visual line of sight, etc.

 

5. What Happens If I Fly the Drone Commercially Without a Drone License?

You could get fined for each regulation you are violating under Part 107. The FAA has been prosecuting drone operators. The previous fine per violation was $1,100, but it has recently gone up to $1,414 per violation. You could be violating multiple regulations per flight. If you land and then take off again, that is 2x the number of fines since you are breaking the same regulations again on the second flight. Now you understand why Skypan ended up with a $1.9 million aggregate fine. They later however settled with the FAA for $200,000.

 

6. How Can I Obtain the Drone License?

You have two ways to obtain your drone license:

(1) Pass the remote pilot initial knowledge exam, submit the information onto IACRA,  pass the TSA background check, & receive your remote pilot certificate electronically; or

(2) If you are a current manned aircraft pilot, take the free online training course from the FAA, submit your application on IACRA, receive your remote pilot certificate electronically.

Each method for obtaining the drone license has different steps from the other. Keep reading below for super detailed step-by-step instructions for EACH of these methods.

 

commercial drone pilot license7. I’m Brand New. What are the Steps to Obtaining a the Drone License?

You’ll have to take the remote pilot initial knowledge exam at a knowledge testing center. Note: if you took a test on the FAA’s website and received a certificate like what is on the right, this is NOT a Part 107 initial knowledge test for new pilots. The certificate to the right is from the online training course which is only for current manned aircraft pilots transitioning over to drones.

 

8. Who Can Take the Part 107 Remote Pilot Exam?

To obtain your drone license you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

9. What if I Have a Manned Aircraft Pilot Certificate Already?

You still have to obtain the remote pilot certificate. If you have a current biannual flight review and a pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, your instructions are located here.

 

New Pilot Step-by-Step Guide to Obtain the Drone License.


Do these steps in the exact order of how they appear in this list:

  1. Figure out how far you need to schedule the test.
    • Take an honest inventory of the hours you have PER DAY.
    • Multiply the hours by 5. (You are most likely going have things that pop up during the week and you’ll need a day to rest.)
    • Now you have an idea of how many hours per week you can dedicate to studying.
    • You are most likely going to read 1 page every 2 minutes because it is technical reading.  The study guide has a total of 406 pages to read.  406 pages x 2 minutes = 812 minutes of reading (13.53 hours). Keep in mind you are not a robot so you are going to have to go back over and study certain areas to retain the information.
    • For example, if you can set aside 5 hours a week to study, this mean in roughly 2.5 weeks you would have completed all of the reading. I would tack on 2 weeks extra of studying. This gives you an idea of how far out you need to schedule your test.
  2. Immediately schedule a time to take the FAA Part 107 knowledge test at one of the testing sites. There are only two companies that offer the Part 107 exam: CATS and PSI/Lasergrade.
    • Figure out which test site you want to take the test at. There are currently 696 of these centers around the world. CATS does a $10 off discount for current AOPA members. If you want to become a current AOPA student member, you can sign up here. 
    • Find out the site ID so you know who to call. LAS = PSI/ Laser Grade  ABS = CATS
    • Test option 1: CATS is registering and taking appointments for the test!
      • CATS – call and get an appointment for a date.
        • This is their main testing number. Call 1-800-947-4228 and press 3. Monday through Friday
          5:30 AM PST to 5:00 PM PST Saturday & Sunday
          7:00 AM PST to 3:30 PM PST
    • Test option 2: PSI/Lasergrade(August 13) Is also registering people for the Part 107 initial knowledge exam
      •  Call 1-800-211-2754 or  1-800-733-9267 to register for your test.
  3. Start studying for the test. I created free 100+ page Part 107 test study guide. The study guide has the material the FAA suggested you study, but I added essential material they left out. It also comes with 41 sample Part 107 exam questions that are answered and explained. Think of it as your “personal trainer” for Part 107 to get you into a lean mean testing machine. You can read the Part 107 test study guide online or you can sign up for the free drone law newsletter below and be able to download the PDF to study on the go.
  1. Now that you know what the rules are, make a business plan for operations under Part 107 once you obtain the drone license. Go back and skim over the Part 107 Summary and read about Part 107 waivers (COAs). You might want to branch out into non-107 types of operations.
  2. Once you have figured out what types of industries and operations you plan on doing, you should spend this time:
    • Building or updating your website.
    • Buying the aircraft or practicing flying your current aircraft.
    • Obtaining insurance for the aircraft that will perform the operations.
    • Finding an attorney for each of the particular areas of law listed below. You may not need the lawyer right away but you have time to calmly make decisions now as opposed to rapidly making decisions in the future when your business is growing. You won’t have time in the future as you do now. Put their numbers in your phone. Ideally, you should have a retainer/ billing relationship set up to get answers rapidly.
      • Business / tax – (Preferably both)
      • Aviation – Contact me to get things set up. Remember. I’m not your attorney until you sign an attorney-client agreement!)
      • Criminal – (in case you get arrested because of some drone ordinance you stumbled upon).
  1. Take the Part 107 initial knowledge test.
  2. Complete FAA Form 8710-13:
    1. By filling out the paper-based version of FAA Form 8710-13 and mailing it off  OR  
    2. Online for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA).
        • Login to IACRA with your username and password. If you don’t remember them, follow the “Forgot Username or Password” link.
        • Applicant Console
          • From the Applicant Console, you can start new applications and view any existing applications. Click Start New Application
          • Select ‘Pilot’ from the Application Type drop-down list. This will now show the different types of pilot certificates IACRA has available.
          • Click on Remote Pilot. Starting a Remote Pilot Application
        • The Application Process page will open, and the Personal Information section will be open. This section will be prepopulated with the information you entered when you registered. If no changes are needed, click the green Save & Continue button at the bottom of this section.
        • The Supplementary Data section will open. Answer the English Language and Drug Conviction questions. If you would like to add comments to your application, you can do so here. Click Save & Continue.
        • The Basis of Issuance section will open.
          • Enter all the information related to your photo ID. A US passport or US driver’s license is preferred.
          • Enter the knowledge test ID in the Search box. PLEASE NOTE: It can take up to 72 hours after you take your knowledge test before it is available in IACRA. When you find the test, click the green Associate Test button. Now click Save & Continue.
        • The Review and Submit section will open.
          • Answer the Denied Certificate question.
          • Summary information info will be displayed.
          • You must view the Pilots Bill of Rights, Privacy Act and Review your application before you can continue.
        • Sign and Complete
          • You should now sign the Pilots Bill of Rights Acknowledgement form.
          • Sign and complete your application.
          • Your application is now complete and will be automatically sent to the Airman Registry.
          • After 2-4 days, your temporary certificate will be available in IACRA. You will also receive an email reminder.
          • Your permanent certificate will arrive by mail.

New Pilot FAQ About the Drone License

1. If I pass this Part 107 remote pilot exam, can I charge for the flight?

Yes, provided you fly within the requirements of Part 107.

 

2. Do model aircraft individuals have to get a 107 exam?

No. Section 107.1 says Part 107 does not apply to “Any aircraft subject to the provisions of part 101 of this chapter[.]” Part 101 is the section for model aircraft. You are going to have to meet the criteria of Part 101 or you will be forced to fly under Part 107. One area that has not been fully clarified is whether FPV racing will be allowed to fly under Part 101 since FPV racing does not fully comply with the FAA’s 2014 Model Aircraft Interpretation which said FPV could not be used to see and avoid other aircraft. The preamble to Part 107 in Pages 73-77 said they will issue a final interpretation on the 2014 interpretation sometime coming up but they did NOT address the interpretation in Part 107. Interestingly, Part 107 DOES allow for FPV provided you use a visual observer.  See page 149 of the Part 107 Preamble.

 

3. Part 107 isn’t for model aircraft people but just commercial people, right?

No, everyone on the internet incorrectly classified everything as either commercial or non-commercial when the correct way to do it is model or non-model. Non-profit environmental organizations or fire departments are two good situations where they aren’t charging for the flight and cannot fall into model aircraft operations. They would need to get authorized some other way to fly.

 

4. How much does remote pilot initial knowledge exam cost?

First time pilots have to take the initial knowledge exam which is estimated at $150.[1] Current manned pilots can either take the initial knowledge exam for $150 or take an initial online training course for free.

 

5. When does Part 107 go into effect?

August 29, 2016.

 

6. Where can I take the 107 knowledge exam?

You take it at a knowledge exam testing center. A complete list is located here.

 

7. How can I Study for the Part 107 Knowledge Test to Get My Drone License?

I created a FREE 100+ page Part 107 test study guide which includes all the information you need to pass the exam. Let me repeat. ALL the information needed to pass the test is in this study guide. Additionally, the study guide comes with  6 “cram” summary pages, 41 sample Part 107 exam questions that are answered and explained, and 24 super hard brand-new practice questions NO ONE ELSE HAS.

There are many paid training sources out there. But I do not know of any of them that are FAA certificated flight instructors AND also practicing aviation attorneys. Be skeptical of most of the 107 courses out there as some of them had to hire FAA certificated flight instructors to teach the material. This implicitly means they do NOT know the subject. Did the flight instructor they hire edit the material or just merely be recorded. In other words, what quality assurance do you have that the paid 107-course creators didn’t botch something up in the post-production?

Additionally, here is a list of Part 107 articles for you to study further:

8. How Long Does It Take to Receive My Remote Pilot Certificate After I Submit on IACRA?

If you have a pilot certificate and took the initial knowledge exam, you have already passed a TSA security threat assessment background check when you obtained your manned aircraft pilot certificate. This means you will have your remote pilot certificate faster than someone brand new.

If you are brand-new, I canNOT estimate because (1) the TSA’s backlog of pending IACRA applications seems to be growing and (2) I don’t know all the factors the FAA and TSA are looking at now.

 


9. I saw some link on the Facebook forums about a Part 107 test. I took it and received a certificate like what is on the right. Is this my drone license?

drone pilot licenseThat online test is NOT the Part 107 initial knowledge exam. That test is ONLY for the current manned aircraft pilots who wish to obtain a remote pilot certificate. See How to Get Your FAA Drone Pilot License (For First-Time and Current Pilots) for more information about how to get your drone pilot license.

 

10. How many different exams are there?

The current manned aircraft pilots can take either the initial online training course or the Part 107 initial knowledge exam while the first time pilots can ONLY take the initial Part 107 knowledge exam. After you receive your remote pilot certificate, you’ll have to pass a recurrent exam within 24 calendar-months of passing either an initial or recurrent aeronautical knowledge test.

 


11. I read some people on Facebook telling me about the law and the drone license……

Let me stop you right there. Getting aviation law advice off Facebook forums is like getting medical help off Craigslist – it’s dumb. Yes, I know there are a few good attorneys online that do help, but there are also a ton of posers. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk or get aviation law info off Facebook. On top of this, some of the people on these Facebook groups are committing the unlicensed practice of law by picking up clients for legal work but are too ignorant of their own criminal laws to know they are breaking these laws. Offering to help you be compliant with the law – while breaking the law themselves.

 

12. What happens if I fail the Part 107 initial knowledge test? 

The FAA’s Advisory Circular says on page 27, “Retaking the UAS knowledge test after a failure:

  • 14 CFR part 107, section 107.71 specifies that an applicant who fails the knowledge test may not retake the knowledge test for 14 calendar days from the date of the previous failure.
  • An applicant retesting after failure is required to submit the applicable AKTR indicating failure to the testing center prior to retesting.
  • No instructor endorsement or other form of written authorization is required to retest after failure.
  • The original failed AKTR must be retained by the proctor and attached to the applicable daily log.”

 

The TSA Background Check for the Drone License Questions

 

1. I Made Some Mistakes in My Past. What Do the TSA and FAA Look For? What Disqualified me from Receiving a Drone License?

I don’t know all the factors. I can say the FAA really does not like alcohol and drug related crimes.  They also don’t like a breath refusal.

 

§107.57   Offenses involving alcohol or drugs.

(a) A conviction for the violation of any Federal or State statute relating to the growing, processing, manufacture, sale, disposition, possession, transportation, or importation of narcotic drugs, marijuana, or depressant or stimulant drugs or substances is grounds for:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of final conviction; or

(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

(b) Committing an act prohibited by §91.17(a) or §91.19(a) of this chapter is grounds for:

(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that act; or

(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

§107.59   Refusal to submit to an alcohol test or to furnish test results.

A refusal to submit to a test to indicate the percentage by weight of alcohol in the blood, when requested by a law enforcement officer in accordance with §91.17(c) of this chapter, or a refusal to furnish or authorize the release of the test results requested by the Administrator in accordance with §91.17(c) or (d) of this chapter, is grounds for:

(a) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that refusal; or

(b) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

 

2. I’m a new pilot, does TSA pre-check or global entry count? I want to get my drone license as quick as possible.

Don’t know.

 

3. I’m a  part 61 pilot trying to obtain my remote pilot certificate, do I have to get TSA background checked?

No, you already had your check when you obtained your Part 61 certificate.

 

4. I’m a fire fighter, law enforcement officer, government agency employee, etc……can I get my 107 certificate and then go do government stuff?  

Sure. But keep in mind that sometimes it might be beneficial to get a Public COA to accomplish the mission as there are certain restrictions with Part 107. However, there are Part 107 waivers that can be obtained. Contact me as each situation is different.

 

5. I did a drone certification course with some company, does that count? Is that the same as a drone license?

No, your “certification” is worth nothing. A bunch of these drone courses popped up being taught by unqualified individuals who were far more proficient at WordPress and Mailchimp than they were at teaching weather and manuals. Only the FAA can certify you.

 

6. Do you have to have a pilot’s license to fly a drone?

It depends on. If you are flying recreationally according to Part 101, you do NOT need to have a pilot license. If you are flying non-recreationally (commercial, etc.), then you would need a pilot certificate.

FREE Drone Pilot License Study Guide!

  • 100 + pages.
  • 41 FAA practice questions with answers.
  • 24 exclusive sample questions.
  • 6 "cram" pages.
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Current Manned Aircraft Pilots Step-by-Step Instructions to Obtain the Drone License

You may be either a sport, recreational, private, commercial, or air transport pilot. You CANNOT be a student pilot. Additionally, the pilot must be current according to 14 C.F.R. § 61.56. This can be done multiple ways but the most popular is they have a sign off in their logbook saying they have completed their bi-annual flight review (BFR).

 

For some, getting a BFR can be much more expensive than taking the Part 107 initial knowledge exam which costs $150. You can be a non-current pilot and take the initial knowledge exam, then submit your application on IACRA. You’ll receive your temporary drone pilot license (remote pilot certificate) electronically so many days later. If this is your situation, then do the “first-time pilot” steps above.

 

Flight Plan for a Current Manned Aircraft Pilot to Obtain the Drone License:

  1. Read the 3-page Part 107 Summary.
  2. Go, download, and read the latest edition of Part 107. The regulations start on page 590. Anytime you have a question about something, make a note and keep reading. The large majority of the whole document is the FAA repeating the comments made to the NPRM and the FAA’s response and rationale for the regulation. Treat it like the FAA’s commentary on the individual regulations. Anytime you have an issue with a particular word or regulation, use the ctrl + f function in Adobe to find the relative sections that discuss the key term you are interested in.
  3. Read the Advisory Circular to Part 107 Notice that the advisory circular has parts that parallel the parts in Part 107 to help answer any questions you have about the regulations.
  4. Do the remote pilot certificate application process below.

Drone License Application Process:

  1. Complete the online training course “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451” available on the FAA FAASTeam website.
  2. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate)
    1. Figure out if you want to do it online at IACRA or by paper (the paper form you print out is located here).
    2. Either way, you are going to need to validate applicant identity on IACRA or 8710-13.
      • Contact an FSDO, an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) to make an appointment to validate your identity. I would suggest doing this with the FSDO because the inspector can give you a temporary certificate at the same time! Look up your local FSDO and make an appointment. Note: FSDO’s almost always do not take walk-ins.  You can also go to a DPE but I think it is better to meet your local FSDO employees because they are the ones that will be doing the investigations in your area.
      • Present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online course completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of a current flight review.
      • The completed FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by the applicant after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines the applicant’s photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity. If you are using a CFI to help you process your application, make sure you and they read FAA article below called Tips for CFIs Processing Remote Pilot & Student Pilot Applications. 
        • The identification presented must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form of identification.
        • Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military identification cards (see AC 61-65 Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors)
    3. The FAA representative will then sign the application.
  1. An appropriate FSDO representative, a FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE), or an airman certification representative (ACR) will issue the applicant a temporary airman certificate (a CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate; they can process applications for applicants who do not want a temporary certificate). The CFI will submit the information on IACRA and you’ll receive your temporary electronically so many days later.
  2. A permanent remote pilot certificate (drone pilot license) will be sent via mail once all other FAA internal processing is complete.

If you need legal services or want to set up enterprise operations to get all your in-house pilots certified, fleet and pilot management, or crew training, contact me at to help with those needs. I work with many other certified aviation professionals to help large companies integrate drones into their operations to be profitable and legal. When looking for aviation law help, don’t hire a poser – hire an attorney who is a pilot. 

Current Pilot FAQs Regarding the Drone License

1. How long does my temporary certificate last? 

§ 107.64(a) says, “A temporary remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating is issued for up to 120 calendar days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.”

 

2. Do I Have to Get Another Medical Exam Before I fly Under My Drone License?

No, a remote pilot certificate does NOT require a medical certificate. However, section 107.17 says, “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.”

 

3. I’m a current part 61 pilot trying to obtain my remote pilot certificate, do I have to get TSA background checked?

No, you already had your check when you obtained your Part 61 certificate. This means you’ll receive your remote pilot certificate faster than a new pilot.

 

FAQs From Those with Pending Section 333 Exemptions

1. I filed a 333 petition and it is still pending. Now what?

The FAA will post a letter to your docket. See here for an example of what one looks like. The FAA is breaking the petitions down into three tiers: (1) operations that can be done within 107, (2) operations that can be done within 107, but need a waiver, and (3) operations that cannot be done within 107 even using a waiver.  Aerial data collection and closed-set exemption petitions are going into tier 1 which means the FAA is closing your docket and no further action is needed from you. You are going to have to go fly under Part 107 and you won’t be given a 333 exemption.

 

2. But my exemption was just about to be approved. Am I goofed?

There was a line drawn in the sand. Exemption petitions or amendments that were posted to regulations.gov by June 22nd are being put into 1 of 3 tiers. Exemptions posted June 23 and onward will NOT be analyzed and put into one of 3 tiers. But going back to the answer to question 1, you most likely will be Tier 1 and the docket will be closed.

 

3. Has the FAA gone through all the petitioners posted up until June 22nd?

I think most of them have been analyzed.

 

4. Which tier does a closed-set TV/movie filming petition go?

Tier 1. Remember that Part 107 does not allow operations over people and would need a waiver. We were hoping that petitions asking for closed-set operations would be put in Tier 2 to have a waiver to operate over participating actors operating under the MPTOM. The FAA analyzed the newer summary Section 333 exemptions (~March  and onward) that were granted and determined that they do not allow operations over participating actors; thus, closed-set petitions cannot go into Tier 2.  Restriction 28 says:

  1. Over or near people directly participating in the operation of the UAS. People directly participating in the operation of the UAS include the PIC, VO, and other consenting personnel that are directly participating in the safe operation of the UA.
  2. Near but not over people directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS operation. People directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS must be briefed on the potential risks and acknowledge and consent to those risks. Operators must notify the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) with a plan of activities at least 72 hours prior to flight operations.

 

5. Why did the FAA choose to do a cut-off?

One primary reason is Part 11 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Part 11 governs the FAA rulemaking process, which exemptions are a part of.  14 C.F.R 11.81 says, “You must include the following information in your petition for an exemption . . . The specific section or sections of 14 CFR from which you seek an exemption[.]” There was no Part 107 before. All the exemptions were asking for exemptions from certain parts of Part 61, Part 91, etc. Now we have Part 107. We need to file petitions for exemption from particular regulations of Part 107. We didn’t have the final rules before so we couldn’t have anticipated the specific regulations that we wanted exemptions from.

 

6. I waited all this time and the FAA is just goofing me up?

The FAA’s response would be that you should have filed sooner. They have thousands of pending 333 petitions.

 

FAQs From Those Who Already Have Section 333 Exemptions

I have a 333 and want to do a job tomorrow. Can I do it or do I have to wait to get a 107 certificate? Page 81 of the Preamble to Part 107 says, “the FAA will allow any Section 333 exemption holder to either continue operating under the terms and conditions of the exemption until its expiration, or conduct operations under Part 107 as long as the operation falls under Part 107.” Some time later you should switch over to Part 107 before the 333 exemption expires. Remember that Part 107 is not in effect right now so you can’t start operating under Part 107, which isn’t in effect, and on top of that, you don’t have a Part 107 certificate or 107 add-ons to your existing Part 61 certificate. Think of it like hats. You have a 333 hat right now. When 107 is being issued and you pick it up, you then have the choice to put on one hat or the other but remember you can’t mix and match parts of the hats.

 

Do we still need to get COAs to operate near airports like we did with the 333s? You are required to get an airspace waiver if you are doing operations in Class B, C, D, or E airspace. So you still need a COA near actual legitimate airports. Gone are the days where we had to deal with the middle of nowhere private airports or the heliports that were completely all over the place like a herd of toddlers that somehow got into craft sparkles.

 

Wait. I read Part 107 and it said ATC permission. It didn’t say anything about waivers. Where are you getting this COA idea from?  The FAA further clarified this area by their own FAQ page which says:

How do I request permission from Air Traffic Control to operate in Class B, C, D, or E airspace? Is there a way to request permission electronically?
You can request airspace permission through an online web portal on the FAA’s UAS website. This online portal will be available on August 29, 2016.

 

Can I contact my local air traffic control tower or facility directly to request airspace permission?
No. All airspace permission requests must be made through the online portal.

 

What advantage do 333 guys have now?  You have the ability to transition over to Part 107 when you feel like it. Many are rushing in to get their Part 107 certificate but the test will not be available until August and the new pilots will have to pass a TSA background check – along with a ton of other people. For non-part 61 pilots, the date of taking the exam and date of having a temporary certificate in their hand are going to be two different dates. Another advantage is that the 333 operators with airspace COAs will have an advantage to those without. There could be delays in implementation by the FAA which affects the 107 people but not the 333 people. Ultimately, the 107 is going to replace the 333 exemptions, except for a few situations like 55 pound and heaver, VLOS package delivery, carrying hazardous material, etc.

 

Can a Part 107 remote pilot fly under our 333 exemption as pilot in command? Prior to June 2016, no 333 exemption had this provision so NO. You can’t mix and match parts and pieces of the 333 and the 107. It is either/or. For example, let’s say you have a COA already for your 333 in Class D airspace, you can’t take that COA and apply it over to your 107 certificate.

 

So why would I fly under Part 107 as opposed to the 333 exemption? There is no 500 foot bubble rule, no NOTAMs, no sport pilot license at a minimum, no visual observer requirement, etc.

 

Can I renew my 333 exemption? This depends on whether you can do the operations under 107 or not. Most of the exemptions were for aerial data collection which can be done under Part 107 so they will most likely not be renewed. See page 87 of the preamble to Part 107 for more details.

 

Want to Continue Learning About Part 107?

FAA Safety Notice: Tips for CFIs Processing Remote Pilot & Student Pilot Applications
Notice Number: NOTC7141

“While tens of thousands of applications for these certificates have been successfully processed by recommending officials during the past year, a significant number of applications have had to be returned to CFIs for needed corrections. This delayed the issuance and delivery of the certificates and sadly resulted in having some of our applicants waiting for certificates longer than they and we would have liked. Points below emphasize what you as a CFI can do to keep the certification system working efficiently.

Be certain the applicant uses his or her legal name. Advise applicant to use the same legal name on his or her application for any knowledge test and all subsequent certificate applications. When there is a mismatch in names between an application and a knowledge test or a mismatch between a current and previous application, the current application is rejected. The applicant may have to visit a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) in order to effect a name change.

IACRA allows an applicant to change his or her name in the user profile. If the applicant’s name is not his or her full legal name (limited to 50 characters), then you should tell the applicant to amend his or her name in the IACRA user profile and start a new application. It’s very important to get this right on the applicant’s first  application submitted—the student pilot or remote pilot application that is submitted to the FAA Airman Registry as a legal document. The address the applicant uses must be a residential address, and not a business address. If a business address is detected, the application will also be rejected for correction by the registry.

Don’t forget to send all paper applications to the local FSDO for review.  About a third of the rejected remote pilot certificate applications in the past year were paper applications that were mistakenly sent directly to AFS-760 by the recommending CFI. Remember to include the FAA Course Completion Certificate for an existing pilot’s remote pilot certificate application.

Consider that IACRA helps to ensure a complete and correct application and instantly submits the application to AFS-760. Although the Airmen Certification Branch, AFS-760, will accept a paper application using a paper FAA Form 8710-1 (for a student pilot certificate application) or FAA paper Form 8710-13 (for a remote pilot certificate and/or rating application), the chance of a return for correction is lower when IACRA is used by the CFI and the IACRA process is much faster.

Note that whenever the CFI acts as a recommending official, the applicant must be in the same room as the CFI during the application process. The CFI can’t accept an application for a student or remote pilot certificate through the mail, over the phone, by fax, or even by messenger service.  This ensures that there is proper vetting of the applicant’s ID and that the applicant is the rightful bearer of the documents presented. The IACRA process gives the CFI a checklist.  As part of the process the CFI logs off and the applicant must log on to the same console to complete the application process. So, never use anyone else’s user id and password for the system for the sake of convenience since it could lead to some serious issues down the road for those involved. Always check the applicant’s identity carefully and in person.

It’s also a great idea to include the applicant’s email and telephone number on an application in case contact for correction is necessary. As a CFI, you can write in your own phone number in the comment section of an application as a courtesy to FAA personnel who may need to contact you about the application. Otherwise, they will have to contact you by mail using your address on file.

For questions or to learn more please email [email protected]

 


Section 333 Exemption vs. Part 107 vs. Public COA vs. Blanket Public COA

section-333-exemption-vs-part-107-public-COA-toolbox.jpg

A common question I receive is “which certification, authorization, exemption, etc. is right for me? There are so many choices.” If this question accurately reflects where you are in life, you are in the right place.

 

There is much confusion on this issue because of the of the different terms, their locations in the law, and the reasons why the different methods of getting a drone airborne legally were created. You need to think of each of these different terms like it was a tool. Each tool was designed to fix certain problems at a certain point in time.

 

Hopefully, this article will bring to light the main differences between the different methods. Keep in mind that the different methods listed below are only SOME of the methods. I picked the most popular methods of getting airborne legally but there are other alternatives to the ones listed.

 

Please keep in mind that this article is designed to compare and contrast SOME of the major provisions and is NOT an exhaustive study on all the issues.  In other words, you should not rely on this article for legal advice because there are many issues in play. This is for educational purposes only.

 

Table of Contents

I. Graph Comparing Aircraft, Pilot, Airspace, and Operational Requirements

II. Part 107

III. Section 333 

IV. Airworthiness Certificates

V. Public COA

Example of a 333 Exemption

Example of a Blanket COA

Example of a Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.0 ~ Mid-Late 2016)

Example of a Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.2)

 

I. Graph Comparing Aircraft, Pilot, Airspace, and Operational Requirements

Please keep in mind these are the major points and not ALL of the points in contrast. If I put everything down, the table would get messy and hard to read.

 Aircraft RequirementsPilot RequirementsAirspace RequirementsTypes of Operations
Part 107Under 55lbs.Remote Pilot Certificate with SUAS RatingClass G, unless authorized or waivedDaylight, visual line of sight, 400ft AGL(unless within 400ft of a structure), not over people, etc.
Section 333As Required in the ExemptionPart 61 Certificate (Sport, Recreational, Private, Commercial, ATP, but not Student). Driver’s license or 3rd class medical.Within “Blanket” COA or Standards COA RequirementsAs defined by the exemption. Can be over 55lb+ or beyond visual line of sight.
Special Airworthiness Certificate (Experimental Category)Experimental Special Airworthiness Certificate.Part 61 Certificate (Sport, Recreational, Private, Commercial, ATP, but not Student).Within Standard COA RequirementsR&D, Showing Compliance with Regulations, Crew Training, Exhibition, Air Racing, Market Surveys. See Section 21.191.
Special Airworthiness Certificate (Restricted Category)Previously type certificated or manufactured & accepted by an Armed Force of the United States.Part 61 Certificate (Sport, Recreational, Private, Commercial, ATP, but not Student).Within Standard COA RequirementsAgriculture, forest and wildlife conservation, aerial surveying patrolling, weather control, aerial advertising,  or any other operation specified by the FAA. See Section 21.25.
Standard Airworthiness CertificateNo small unmanned aircraft has this certification
Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.2)Under 55lbs.Self-CertifyClass G & at or below 400ft AGL. Beyond 5/3/2 airport distance requiresments.Section 40102(a)(41) & 40125(a)(2) and within public “blanket” COA limitations.
Public COASelf-CertifySelf-CertifySelf-Certify49 USC §§ 40102(a)(41);  40125
Part 101Under 55lbs unless certified through a community-based organization (CBO) safety program.CBO standardsNotification required to manager and tower if within 5 miles of an airport.Hobby or recreational only. Does not interfere and gives way to manned aircraft. Within CBO  safety guidelines. Cannot endanger safety of national airspace system.

 

 

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This graphic compares the four most popular methods of getting airborne. The  FAA has delegated some of the standard setting to the remote pilot in command (purple) or the FAA determined the standard by which the remote pilot must follow (grey).

part-107-101-333-exemption-publicc-coa-comparison


II. Part 107

This part of the regulations went into effect on August 29, 2016. Prior to 107, we were operating predominately under a Section 333 exemptions.

 

For many, Part 107 is the best solution; however, there are particular operations which cannot be done under just Part 107 or a Part 107 waiver such as over 55-pound and heavier operations, crop dusting operations, beyond visual line of sight property transport or moving vehicle in a congested area property transport, etc.   If you are needing help with any of those, contact me.

 

For operations, that cannot be completed under Part 107, a Section 333 exemption could be a good alternative, but not always the best. The idea I want to to take away is that there are different tools for different problems. Some operators can have multiple tools in their toolbox to accomplish their missions depending on the particular facts. For example, a fire department could have 107 remote pilots, a section 333 exemption, and a public COA all at the same time. The problem at hand determines which tool you would pull out of the toolbox.

 

III. Section 333 Exemption

This basically is a legal Frankenstein created using the FAA’s authority given in Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Part 11’s exemption process, and the Part 91 waiver process. The first exemptions came out in September 2014 and were the backbone of the commercial drone industry till Part 107 came out which had far less restrictive requirements. See an Example of a 333 Exemption

 

From September 2014 -November 2016, we saw multiple versions of the exemptions which morphed and changed over time. For example, the early exemptions had restrictions requiring the pilot to keep a 25% battery reserve, it then changed to 30%, and then a 5 minute reserve which goofed over the cinematographers who originally worked with the FAA to craft the 333 exemptions! Why did it hurt cinematographers? Because if their large heavy lift drones had a flight time of 15 minutes, under the original exemptions they would be required to keep a 25% battery reserve (3.75 minutes) while under the newer restrictions it is 5 minutes which results in a loss of available flight time.

 

In November 2016, the FAA unilaterally updated over 5,000 to all have the same set of restrictions. One wonders how that was not arbitrary and capricious.

 

The two most problematic restrictions for the 333 exemption operators were the 500ft “bubble” around the drone of which non-participating people and property must stay out of and the requirement to operate under a certificate of authorization.

 

Early on, the 333 exemptions did not come with COAs and people had to apply for them. The FAA quickly learned the error of that and created the “blanket” COA which was issued to all the 333 exemption holders upon approval. The FAA updated the “blanket” COA over time from 200ft AGL to 400ft AGL.  But here is the problem why the certificate of authorization was the second biggest problem, the “blanket” COA sis good for operations outside of 5 NM from a towered airport, 3NM from an airport with an instrument approach procedure, or 2NM from an airport, heliport, glider port, etc.  This made operations in cities or near them almost impossible because you would have to apply for a new COA, because the “blanket” COA would not work, and the wait 6 months +. The jobs would go to the illegal operators.

 

IV. Airworthiness Certificates

The FAA has been charged with maintaining the safety of the national airspace system and protecting people on the ground. One of the ways the FAA ensures safety is by certifying the aircraft to make sure it is airworthiness (it won’t fall out of the sky and kill people). This process which was originally designed for manned aircraft has been used for unmanned aircraft successfully.

 

There are two types of airworthiness certificates: (1) standard and (2) special.  To date, no small unmanned aircraft has obtained a standard airworthiness certificate, but I know some companies are in the process of trying to obtain them for their aircraft. There have been some special airworthiness certificates given out in the experimental and the restricted categories.

 

Obtaining an airworthiness certificate is time-consuming. A major reason it is rarely used today is an operator could just go the Section 333 exemption route or the Part 107 route which allow the pilot in command to determine the airworthiness of the aircraft. However, there are some instances where a special airworthiness certificate could be more beneficial than the 333 exemption or Part 107. It just depends on the facts of the intended operations. Different tools in the toolbox.

 

One point to mention is that an unmanned aircraft would not just need an airworthiness certificate but also a COA as well for the operations to be in compliance with the regulations.

 

V. Public COA

This method is only available for government agencies. The agency has to be fulfilling certain specific governmental functions under certain conditions for the operator to get the ability to self-certify their own pilot, aircraft, maintenance, and medical standards. The FAA is very strict on the missions and requirements because it does not want government agencies to run commercial types of missions or non-government missions under a public COA which is far less restrictive than other methods.

 

A government operator obtains a public COA by first sending the FAA a declaration letter outlining that the agency and its intended missions fall within the public aircraft statutes, the FAA reviews the declaration letter to determine if it is sufficient, the FAA gives the agency access to the COA portal to file a COA application, the government agency files the COA application, the FAA reviews the COA application and either approves, denies, or asks for more information.  The agency then operates under the public COA and the Federal Aviation Regulations.

 

When the 333 exemption method was getting into full swing,  public aircraft operators noticed that the Section 333 process seemed quicker and the “blanket” COAs that were being given out were for the entire United States, except for certain areas, while the public COAs were mission. aircraft, and location specific. This was a no brainer so government agencies started obtaining 333 exemptions because they were less restrictive than the public COAs.

 

Other government agencies were upset and wanted a similar deal to the 333 exemption’s blanket COA so the FAA created the “blanket” public COA which is basically a frankensteined version of a public COA, a section 333 exemption, and the blanket COA.

Agencies were happy for a while but caught on that the Section 333 exemptions were evolving to be less restrictive while the blanket public COA stayed the same. For example, the blanket public COA requires the pilot to have a private, commercial, or ATP certificate to operate near certain types of airports while the 333 exemptions required as little as a sport certificate. Additionally, when Part 107 came out, the public blanket COAs still said that the pilot had to have passed the private pilot knowledge exam to fly in most of Class G airspace while a government operator could have their pilots obtain a remote pilot certificate by passing a remote pilot knowledge exam which is easier than a private pilot knowledge exam!

 

This is why few government agencies today go for a public COA or public blanket COA; however, there are sometimes when a public COA is the best solution for the mission but that is fact specific. Different tools for different problems.

 

Conclusion

I outlined a brief summation of some of the major points above. There are all sorts of little contrasts between each of the different methods. If you are needing help with obtaining a tool to put in your toolbox (waiver, authorization, exemption, public COA, etc.), contact me. Paying for 30 minutes of my time can save you lots and lots of headache, time, and money. We can outline a game plan for your operations in  30 minutes so you can stop wasting time reading and focus on achieving your goals of operating a drone to save time, money, or lives.

Stop wasting time and contact me to schedule a phone call. :)

If you interested in learning more, I have put below an:

Example of a 333 Exemption

Example of a Blanket COA

Example of a Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.0)

Example of a Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.2)

 

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Example of a 333 Exemption

Dear Section 333 Exemption Holder:
This letter is to inform you that we are amending your exemption that authorizes unmanned aircraft operations under Section 333.1 It explains the basis for our decision, describes its effect, and lists the revised Conditions and Limitations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that good cause exists for not publishing a summary of the petition in the Federal Register because this amendment to the exemption would not set a precedent, and any delay in acting on this petition would be detrimental to the petitioner. The unmanned aircraft authorized in the original grant are comparable in type, size, weight, speed, and operating capabilities to those in this petition.

 

Additionally, the FAA has finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) (part 107, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems). The new rule, which went into effect August 29, 2016, offers safety regulations for sUAS weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations. The vast majority of operations authorized under previously-issued exemptions under Section 333 have been addressed by part 107; now that part 107 is in effect, these operations do not necessitate an exemption. However, your Section 333 exemption remains valid until it expires. You may continue to fly following the Conditions and Limitations in your exemption and under the terms of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). If your operation can be conducted under the requirements in part 107, you may elect to operate under part 107; however, if you wish to operate under part 107, you must obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow the operating rules of part 107. For more information, please visit: http://www.faa.gov/uas/.

 

The Basis for Our Decision
The FAA has previously issued a grant of exemption for relief from §§ 61.23(a) and (c), 61.101(e)(4) and (5), 61.113(a), 61.315(a), 91.7(a), 91.119(c), 91.121, 91.151(a)(1), 91.405(a), 91.407(a)(1), 91.409(a)(1) and (2), and 91.417(a) and (b) of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). That exemption allows the operators to operate UAS to perform aerial data collection or aerial data collection and closed-set filming and television production.
The FAA has revised the Conditions and Limitations issued in exemptions authorizing unmanned aircraft operations under Section 333 since the petitioner’s previous grant of exemption to those found in Exemption No. 15005 to Thomas R. Guilmette (see Docket No. FAA-2015-5829). Also in Exemption Nos. 13465A to Kansas State University (see Docket No. FAA-2014-1088), 11433A to Cape Productions (see Docket No. FAA-2015-0223), 11213 to Aeryon Labs, Inc. (see Docket No. FAA-2014-0642), 11062 to Astraeus Aerial (see Docket No. FAA−2014−0352), 11109 to Clayco, Inc. (see Docket No. FAA−2014−0507), 11112 to VDOS Global, LLC (see Docket No. FAA−2014−0382), the FAA found that the enhanced safety achieved using a sUAS with the specifications described by the petitioner and carrying no passengers or crew, rather than a manned aircraft of significantly greater proportions, carrying crew and flammable fuel, gives the FAA good cause to find that the UAS operation enabled by this exemption is in the public interest.

 

Our Decision
The FAA has modified the Conditions and Limitations to address aircraft, training, tethered operations, aircraft registration, and flight operations near persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures. Additionally, in previous exemptions, the FAA limited UAS operations to outside 5 nautical miles of an airport reference point (ARP) as denoted in the current FAA Airport/Facility Directory (AFD) or for airports not denoted with an ARP, the center of the airport symbol as denoted on the current FAA-published aeronautical chart unless a letter of agreement (LOA) with that airport’s management is obtained or otherwise permitted by a COA issued to the exemption holder. The FAA has removed that condition. In order to maintain safety in the vicinity of airports in Class B, C, or D airspace, the petitioner must apply to the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) for a new or amended COA. The FAA has determined that the justification for the issuance of Section 333 exemptions remains valid and is in the public interest. Therefore, under the authority contained in 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 40113, and 44701, delegated to me by the Administrator, the operator is granted an amendment to its exemption from 14 CFR §§ 61.23(a) and (c), 61.101(e)(4) and (5), 61.113(a), 61.315(a), 91.7(a), 91.119(c), 91.121, 91.151(a)(1), 91.405(a), 91.407(a)(1), 91.409(a)(1) and (2), and 91.417(a) and (b), to the extent necessary to allow the petitioner to conduct UAS operations. This exemption is subject to the Conditions and Limitations listed below.The list of affected docket numbers is included in Appendix A. The operator shall add this amendment to all previously-issued exemption(s). Without the original exemption and all subsequent amendments, this amendment is not valid.

 

Conditions and Limitations
The Conditions and Limitations within the previously-issued grant of exemptions have been superseded, and are amended as follows. Failure to comply with any of the Conditions and Limitations of this grant of exemption will be grounds for the immediate suspension or rescission of this exemption.

  1. The operator is authorized by this grant of exemption to use any aircraft identified on the List of Approved Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) under Section 333 at regulatory docket FAA–2007–3330 at www.regulations.gov, when weighing less than 55 pounds including payload. Proposed operations of any aircraft not on the list currently posted to the above docket will require a new petition or a petition to amend this exemption.
  2.  If operations under this exemption involve the use of foreign civil aircraft the operator would need to obtain a Foreign Aircraft Permit pursuant to 14 CFR § 375.41 before conducting any commercial air operations under this authority. Application instructions are specified in 14 CFR §375.43. Applications should be submitted by electronic mail to the DOT Office of International Aviation, Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division. Additional information can be obtained via https://cms.dot.gov/policy/aviation-policy/licensing/foreign-carriers.
  3. The UA may not be operated at a speed exceeding 87 knots (100 miles per hour). The operator may use either groundspeed or calibrated airspeed to determine compliance with the 87 knot speed restriction. In no case will the UA be operated at airspeeds greater than the maximum UA operating airspeed recommended by the aircraft manufacturer.
  4. The UA must be operated at an altitude of no more than 400 feet above ground level (AGL). Altitude must be reported in feet AGL. This limitation is in addition to any altitude restrictions that may be included in the applicable COA.
  5. Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). All operations must be conducted in accordance with an ATO-issued COA. The exemption holder must apply for a new or amended COA if it intends to conduct operations that cannot be conducted under the terms of the enclosed COA.
  6. The Pilot in Command (PIC) must have the capability to maintain visual line of sight (VLOS) at all times. This requires the PIC to be able to use human vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, as specified on that individual’s FAA-issued airman medical certificate or valid U.S. driver’s license issued by a state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, a territory, a possession, or the Federal Government, to see the UA.
  7. All operations must utilize a visual observer (VO). The UA must be operated within the visual line of sight (VLOS) of the VO at all times. The VO must use human vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses to see the UA. The VO, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS, and the PIC must be able to communicate verbally at all times. Electronic messaging or texting is not permitted during flight operations. The PIC must be designated before the flight and cannot transfer his or her designation for the duration of the flight. The PIC must ensure that the VO can perform the duties required of the VO. Students receiving instruction or observing an operation as part of their instruction may not serve as visual observers.
  8. This exemption, the List of Approved Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) under Section 333 at regulatory docket FAA-2007-3330 at www.regulations.gov, all previous grant(s) of exemption, and all documents needed to operate the UAS and conduct its operations in accordance with the Conditions and Limitations stated in this exemption, are hereinafter referred to as the operating documents. The operating documents must be accessible during UAS operations and made available to the Administrator upon request. If a discrepancy exists between the Conditions and Limitations in this exemption, the applicable ATO-issued COA, and the procedures outlined in the operating documents, the most restrictive conditions, limitations, or procedures apply and must be followed. The operator may update or revise its operating documents as necessary. The operator is responsible for tracking revisions and presenting updated and revised documents to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request. The operator must also present updated and revised documents if it petitions for extension or amendment to this exemption. If the operator determines that any update or revision would affect the basis upon which the FAA granted this exemption, then the operator must petition for an amendment to its exemption. The FAA’s UAS Integration Office may be contacted if questions arise regarding updates or revisions to the operating documents.
  9. Any UAS that has undergone maintenance or alterations that affect the UAS operation or flight characteristics, e.g. replacement of a flight critical component, must undergo a functional test flight prior to conducting further operations under this exemption. Functional test flights may only be conducted by a PIC with a VO and essential flight personnel only and must remain at least 500 feet from all other people. The functional test flight must be conducted in such a manner so as to not pose an undue hazard to persons and property.
  10. The operator is responsible for maintaining and inspecting the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.
  11. Prior to each flight, the PIC must conduct a pre-flight inspection and determine the UAS is in a condition for safe flight. The pre-flight inspection must account for all potential discrepancies, e.g. inoperable components, items, or equipment. If the inspection reveals a condition that affects the safe operation of the UAS, the aircraft is prohibited from operating until the necessary maintenance has been performed and the UAS is found to be in a condition for safe flight.
  12. The operator must follow the UAS manufacturer’s maintenance, overhaul, replacement, inspection, and life limit requirements for the aircraft and aircraft components. Each UAS operated under this exemption must comply with all manufacturer safety bulletins.
  13. PIC certification: Under this grant of exemption, a PIC must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate. The PIC must also hold a current FAA airman medical certificate or a valid U.S. driver’s license issued by a state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, a territory, a possession, or the Federal government. The PIC must also meet the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR § 61.56 in an aircraft in which the PIC is rated on his or her pilot certificate.
  14. PIC qualifications: The PIC must demonstrate the ability to safely operate the UAS in a manner consistent with how it will be operated under this exemption, including evasive and emergency maneuvers and maintaining appropriate distances from persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures before conducting student training operations. Flights for the pilot’s own training, proficiency, or experience-building under this exemption may be conducted under this exemption. PIC qualification flight hours and currency may be logged in a manner consistent with 14 CFR § 61.51(b), however, UAS pilots must not log this time in the same columns or categories as time accrued during manned flight. UAS flight time must not be recorded as part of total time.
  15. Training: The operator may conduct training operations when the trainer/instructor is qualified as a PIC under this exemption and designated as PIC for the entire duration of the flight operation. Students/trainees are considered direct participants in the flight operation when manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS and are not required to hold any airman certificate. The student/trainees may be the manipulators of the controls; however, the PIC must directly supervise their conduct and the PIC must also have sufficient override capability to immediately take direct control of the small UAS and safely abort the operation if necessary, including taking any action necessary to ensure safety of other aircraft as well as persons and property on the ground in the event of unsafe maneuvers and/or emergencies for example landing in an empty area away from people and property.
  16. Under all situations, the PIC is responsible for the safety of the operation. The PIC is also responsible for meeting all applicable Conditions and Limitations as prescribed in this exemption and ATO-issued COA, and operating in accordance with the operating documents. All training operations must be conducted during dedicated training sessions and may or may not be for compensation or hire. The operation must be conducted with a dedicated VO who has no collateral duties and is not the PIC during the flight. The VO must maintain visual sight of the aircraft at all times during flight operations without distraction in accordance with the Conditions and Limitations below. Furthermore, the PIC must operate the UA not closer than 500 feet to any nonparticipating person without exception.
  17. UAS operations may not be conducted during night, as defined in 14 CFR § 1.1. All operations must be conducted under visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Flights under special visual flight rules (SVFR) are not authorized.
  18. The UA may not be operated less than 500 feet below or less than 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud or when visibility is less than 3 statute miles from the PIC.
  19.  For tethered UAS operations, the tether line must have colored pennants or streamers attached at not more than 50 foot intervals beginning at 150 feet above the surface of the earth and visible from at least 1 mile. This requirement for pennants or streamers is not applicable when operating exclusively below the top of and within 250 feet of any structure, so long as the UA operation does not obscure the lighting of the structure.
  20. For UAS operations where GPS signal is necessary to safely operate the UA, the PIC must immediately recover/land the UA upon loss of GPS signal.
  21. If the PIC loses command or control link with the UA, the UA must follow a predetermined route to either reestablish link or immediately recover or land.
  22. The PIC must abort the flight operation if unpredicted circumstances or emergencies that could potentially degrade the safety of persons or property arise. The PIC must terminate flight operations without causing undue hazard to persons or property in the air or on the ground.
  23. The PIC is prohibited from beginning a flight unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough available power for the UA to conduct the intended operation and to operate after that for at least five minutes or with the reserve power recommended by the manufacturer if greater.
  24. All aircraft operated in accordance with this exemption must be registered in accordance with 14 CFR part 47 or 48, and have identification markings in accordance with 14 CFR part 45, Subpart C or part 48.
  25. Documents used by the operator to ensure the safe operation and flight of the UAS and any documents required under 14 CFR §§ 91.9 and 91.203 must be available to the PIC at the Ground Control Station of the UAS any time the aircraft is operating. These documents must be made available to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request.
  26. The UA must remain clear of and give way to all manned aircraft at all times.
  27. The UAS may not be operated by the PIC from any moving device or vehicle.
  28. All flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures unless when operating:

a. Over or near people directly participating in the operation of the UAS. People directly participating in the operation of the UAS include the student manipulating the controls, PIC, VO, and other consenting personnel that are directly participating in the safe operation of the UA.

b. Near but not over people directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS operation. People directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS (including students in a class not manipulating the controls of the UAS), who must be briefed on the potential risks and acknowledge and consent to those risks. Operators must notify the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) with a plan of activities at least 72 hours prior to flight operations.

c. Near nonparticipating persons: Except as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, a UA may only be operated closer than 500 feet to a person when barriers or structures are present that sufficiently protect that person from the UA and/or debris or hazardous materials such as fuel or chemicals in the event of an accident. Under these conditions, the operator must ensure that the person remains under such protection for the duration of the operation. If a situation arises where the person leaves such protection and is within 500 feet of the UA, flight operations must cease immediately in a manner that does not cause undue hazard to persons.

d. Near vessels, vehicles, and structures. Prior to conducting operations the operator must obtain permission from a person with the legal authority over any vessels, vehicles or structures that will be within 500 feet of the UA during operations. The PIC must make a safety assessment of the risk of operating closer to those objects and determined that it does not present an undue hazard.

29. All operations shall be conducted over private or controlled-access property with permission from a person with legal authority to grant access. Permission will be obtained for each flight to be conducted.

30. Any incident, accident, or flight operation that transgresses the lateral or vertical boundaries of the operational area as defined by the applicable COA must be reported to the FAA’s UAS Integration Office within 24 hours. Accidents must be reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in accordance with its UAS accident reporting requirements. For operations conducted closer than 500 feet to people directly participating in the intended purpose of the operation, not protected by barriers, the following additional conditions and limitations apply:

31. The operator must have an operations manual that contains at least the following items, although it is not restricted to these items.

a. Operator name, address, and telephone number

b. Distribution and Revision. Procedures for revising and distributing the operations manual to ensure that it is kept current. Revisions must comply with the applicable Conditions and Limitations in this exemption.

c. Persons Authorized. Specify criteria for designating individuals as directly participating in the safe operation of the UAS. The operations manual must include procedures to ensure that all operations are conducted at distances from persons in accordance with the Conditions and Limitations of the exemption.
d. Plan of Activities. The operations manual must include procedures for the submission of a written plan of activities.

e.Permission to Operate. The operations manual shall specify requirements and procedures that the operator will use to obtain permission to operate over property or near vessels, vehicles, and structures in accordance with this exemption.
f. Security. The manual must specify the method of security that will be used to ensure the safety of nonparticipating persons. This should also include procedures that will be used to stop activities when unauthorized persons, vehicles, or aircraft enter the operations area, or for any other reason, in the interest of safety.

g. Briefing of persons directly participating in the intended operation. Procedures must be included to brief personnel and participating persons on the risks involved, emergency procedures, and safeguards to be followed during the operation.

h.Personnel directly participating in the safe operation of the UAS Minimum Requirements. In accordance with this exemption, the operator must specify the minimum requirements for all flight personnel in the operating manual. The PIC at a minimum will be required to meet the certification standards specified in this exemption.
i. Communications. The operations manual must contain procedures to provide communications capability with participants during the operation. The operator can use oral, visual, or radio communications as along as the participants are apprised of the current status of the operation.

j. Accident Notification. The operations manual must contain procedures for notification and reporting of accidents in accordance with this exemption. In accordance with this exemption, the operating manual and all other operating documents must be accessible to the PIC during UAS operations.

32.At least 72 hours prior to operations, the operator must submit a written Plan of Activities to the local FSDO having jurisdiction over the proposed operating area. The Plan of Activities must include at least the following:

a. Dates and times for all flights. For seasonal or long-term operations, this can include the beginning and end dates of the timeframe, the approximate frequency (e.g. daily, every weekend, etc.), and what times of the day operations will occur. A new plan of activities must be submitted prior to each season or period of operations.

b. Name and phone number of the on-site person responsible for the operation.

c. Make, model, and serial or FAA registration number of each UAS to be used.

d.Name and certificate number of each UAS PIC involved in the operations.

e. A statement that the operator has obtained permission from property owners. Upon request, the operator will make available a list of those who gave permission.

f. Signature of exemption holder or representative stating the plan is accurate.

g. A description of the flight activity, including maps or diagrams of the area over which operations will be conducted and the altitudes essential to accomplish the operation.

Unless otherwise specified in this exemption, the UAS, the UAS PIC, and the UAS operations must comply with all applicable parts of 14 CFR including, but not limited to, parts 45, 47, 48, 61, and 91. This exemption terminates on the date provided in the petitioner’s original exemption or amendment most recently granted prior to the date of this amendment, unless sooner superseded or rescinded.

 

Example of a Blanket COA

A. General.

1. The approval of this COA is effective only with an approved Section 333 FAA Grant of Exemption.
2. A copy of the COA including the special limitations must be immediately available to all operational personnel at each operating location whenever UAS operations are being conducted.
3. This authorization may be canceled at any time by the Administrator, the person authorized to grant the authorization, or the representative designated to monitor a specific operation. As a general rule, this authorization may be canceled when it is no longer required, there is an abuse of its provisions, or when unforeseen safety factors develop. Failure to comply with the authorization is cause for cancellation. The operator will receive written notice of cancellation.

B. Safety of Flight.

1. The operator or pilot in command (PIC) is responsible for halting or canceling activity in the COA area if, at any time, the safety of persons or property on the ground or in the air is in jeopardy, or if there is a failure to comply with the terms or conditions of this authorization.

See-and-Avoid
Unmanned aircraft have no on-board pilot to perform see-and-avoid responsibilities; therefore, when operating outside of active restricted and warning areas approved for aviation activities, provisions must be made to ensure an equivalent level of safety exists for unmanned operations consistent with 14 CFR Part 91 §91.111, §91.113 and §91.115.
a. The pilot in command (PIC) is responsible:

-To remain clear and give way to all manned aviation operations and activities at all times,
-For the safety of persons or property on the surface with respect to the UAS, and
-For compliance with CFR Parts 91.111, 91.113 and 91.115

b. UAS pilots will ensure there is a safe operating distance between aviation activities and unmanned aircraft (UA) at all times.

c. Visual observers must be used at all times and maintain instantaneous communication with the PIC.

d. The PIC is responsible to ensure visual observer(s) are:

-Able to see the UA and the surrounding airspace throughout the entire flight, and
-Able to provide the PIC with the UA’s flight path, and proximity to all aviation activities and other hazards (e.g., terrain, weather, structures) sufficiently for the PIC to exercise effective control of the UA to prevent the UA from creating a collision hazard.

e. Visual observer(s) must be able to communicate clearly to the pilot any instructions required to remain clear of conflicting traffic.

2. Pilots are reminded to follow all federal regulations e.g. remain clear of all Temporary Flight Restrictions, as well as following the exemption granted for their operation.
3. The operator or delegated representative must not operate in Prohibited Areas, Special Flight Rule Areas or, the Washington National Capital Region Flight Restricted Zone,
except operations in the Washington DC Special Flight Rule Area may be approved only with prior coordination with the Security Operations Support Center (SOSC) at 202-267- 8276. Such areas are depicted on charts available at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/. Additionally, aircraft operators should beware of and avoid other areas identified in Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) which restricts operations in proximity to Power Plants, Electric Substations, Dams, Wind Farms, Oil Refineries, Industrial Complexes, National Parks, The Disney Resorts, Stadiums, Emergency Services, the Washington DC Metro Flight Restricted Zone, Military or other Federal Facilities.
4. The unmanned aircraft will be registered prior to operations in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

C. Reporting Requirements

1. Documentation of all operations associated with UAS activities is required regardless of the airspace in which the UAS operates. NOTE: Negative (zero flights) reports are required.
2. The operator must submit the following information through mailto:[email protected] on a monthly basis:

a. Name of Operator, Exemption number and Aircraft registration number
b. UAS type and model
c. All operating locations, to include location city/name and latitude/longitude
d. Number of flights (per location, per aircraft)
e. Total aircraft operational hours
f. Takeoff or Landing damage
g. Equipment malfunctions. Reportable malfunctions include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) On-board flight control system
(2) Navigation system
(3) Power plant failure in flight
(4) Fuel system failure
(5) Electrical system failure
(6) Control station failure

3. The number and duration of lost link events (control, performance and health monitoring, or communications) per UA per flight.
4. Incident/Accident/Mishap Reporting After an incident or accident that meets the criteria below, and within 24 hours of that incident, accident or event described below, the proponent must provide initial notification of the following to the FAA via email at  [email protected] and via the UAS COA On-Line forms (Incident/Accident).

1. All accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations where any of the following occurs:

a. Fatal injury, where the operation of a UAS results in a death occurring within 30 days of the accident/mishap
b. Serious injury, where the operation of a UAS results in: (1) hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received; (2) results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose); (3) causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage; (4) involves any internal organ; or (5) involves second- or third-degree burns, orany burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.
c. Total unmanned aircraft loss
d. Substantial damage to the unmanned aircraft system where there is damage to the airframe, power plant, or onboard systems that must be repaired prior to further flight
e. Damage to property, other than the unmanned aircraft.

2. Any incident/mishap that results in an unsafe/abnormal operation including but not limited to

a. A malfunction or failure of the unmanned aircraft’s on-board flight control system (including navigation)
b. A malfunction or failure of ground control station flight control hardware or software (other than loss of control link)
c. A power plant failure or malfunction
d. An in-flight fire
e. An aircraft collision involving another aircraft.
f. Any in-flight failure of the unmanned aircraft’s electrical system requiring use of alternate or emergency power to complete the flight
g. A deviation from any provision contained in the COA
h. A deviation from an ATC clearance and/or Letter(s) of Agreement/Procedures
i. A lost control link event resulting in

(1) Fly-away, or
(2) Execution of a pre-planned/unplanned lost link procedure.

3. Initial reports must contain the information identified in the COA On-Line Accident/Incident Report.
4. Follow-on reports describing the accident/incident/mishap(s) must be submitted by providing copies of proponent aviation accident/incident reports upon completion of safety investigations.
5. Civil operators and Public-use agencies (other than those which are part of the Department of Defense) are advised that the above procedures are not a substitute for separate accident/incident reporting required by the National Transportation Safety Board under 49 CFR Part 830 §830.5.
6. For other than Department of Defense operations, this COA is issued with the provision that the FAA be permitted involvement in the proponent’s incident/accident/mishap investigation as prescribed by FAA Order 8020.11, Aircraft Accident and Incident Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.

D. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). A distant (D) NOTAM must be issued when unmanned aircraft operations are being conducted. This requirement may be accomplished:

a. Through the operator’s local base operations or NOTAM issuing authority, or
b. By contacting the NOTAM Flight Service Station at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487- 6867) not more than 72 hours in advance, but not less than 24 hours prior to the operation, unless otherwise authorized as a special provision. The issuing agency will require the:

(1) Name and address of the pilot filing the NOTAM request
(2) Location, altitude, or operating area
(3) Time and nature of the activity.
(4) Number of UAS flying in the operating area.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPECIAL PROVISIONS
A. Coordination Requirements.

1. Operators and UAS equipment must meet the requirements (communication, equipment and clearance) of the class of airspace they will operate in.
2. Operator filing and the issuance of required distance (D) NOTAM, will serve as advance ATC facility notification of UAS operations in an area.
3. The area of operation defined in the NOTAM must only be for the actual area to be flown for each day defined by a point and the minimum radius required to conduct the operation.
4. Operator must cancel NOTAMs when UAS operations are completed or will not be conducted.
5. Coordination and de-confliction between Military Training Routes (MTRs) is the operator’s responsibility. When identifying an operational area the operator must evaluate whether an MTR will be affected. In the event the UAS operational area overlaps an MTR, the operator will contact the scheduling agency 24 hours in advance to coordinate and de-conflict. Approval from the scheduling agency is not required. Scheduling agencies are listed in the Area Planning AP/1B Military Planning Routes North and South America, if unable to gain access to AP/1B contact the FAA at email address [email protected] with the IR/VR routes affected and the FAA will provide the scheduling agency information. If prior coordination and de-confliction does not take place 24 hours in advance, the operator must remain clear of all MTRs.

B. Communication Requirements. When operating in the vicinity of an airport without an operating control tower, announce your operations in accordance with the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) 4-1- 9 Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports without Operating Control Towers.
C. Flight Planning Requirements.

Note: For all UAS requests not covered by the conditions listed below, the exemption holder may apply for a new Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Certificate of Waiver or
Authorization (COA) at https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/uas/portal.jsp This COA will allow small UAS (55 pounds or less) operations during daytime VFR conditions under the following conditions and limitations:
(1) At or below 400 feet AGL; and
(2) Beyond the following distances from the airport reference point (ARP) of a public use airport, heliport, gliderport, or seaport listed in the Airport/Facility Directory, Alaska Supplement, or Pacific Chart Supplement of the U.S. Government Flight Information Publications.

a) 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
b) 3 NM from an airport having a published instrument flight procedure, but not
having an operational control tower; or
c) 2 NM from an airport not having a published instrument flight procedure or an
operational control tower; or
d) 2 NM from a heliport

 

D. Emergency/Contingency Procedures.

1. Lost Link/Lost Communications Procedures:

a. If the UAS loses communications or loses its GPS signal, the UA must return to a pre-determined location within the private or controlled-access property and land.
b. The PIC must abort the flight in the event of unpredicted obstacles or emergencies.

2. Any incident, accident, or flight operation that transgresses the lateral or vertical boundaries defined in this COA must be reported to the FAA via email at [email protected] within 24 hours. Accidents must be
reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) per instructions contained on the NTSB Web site: www.ntsb.gov

AUTHORIZATION
This Certificate of Waiver or Authorization does not, in itself, waive any Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, nor any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operation conflict with any state law or local ordinance, or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the responsibility of the operator to resolve the matter. This COA does not authorize flight within Special Use airspace without approval from the scheduling agency. The operator is hereby authorized to operate the small Unmanned Aircraft System in the National Airspace System.

Example of a Public “Blanket” COA  (Version 1.0 ~ Mid-Late 2016)

I. STANDARD PROVISIONS

A. General.

The review of this activity is based upon current understanding of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations and their impact on the National Airspace System (NAS).This Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) will not be considered a precedent for future operations. As changes in, or understanding of, UAS operations occur, the associated limitations and conditions may be adjusted.

All personnel engaged in the operation of the UAS in accordance with this authorization must read and comply with the conditions, limitations, and provisions of this COA.

A copy of the COA including the special limitations must be immediately available to all operational personnel at each operating location whenever UAS operations are being conducted.

This COA may be canceled at any time by the Administrator, a person authorized to grant the authorization, or a representative designated to monitor a specific operation. As a general rule, this authorization may be canceled when it is no longer required, when there is an abuse of its provisions, or when unforeseen safety factors develop. Failure to comply with the authorization is cause for cancellation. All cancellations will be provided in writing to the proponent.

During the time this COA is approved and active, a site safety evaluation/visit may be accomplished to ensure COA compliance, assess any adverse impact on ATC or airspace, and ensure this COA is not burdensome or ineffective. Deviations, accidents/incidents/mishaps, complaints, etc. will prompt a COA review or site visit to address the issue. Refusal to allow a site safety evaluation/visit may result in cancellation of the COA. Note: This section does not pertain to agencies that have other existing agreements in place with the FAA.

Public Aircraft Operations are defined by statutes Title 49 USC §40102(a)(41) and §40125. All public aircraft operations conducted under a COA must comply with the terms of the statutes.

 

B. Airworthiness Certification.

The unmanned aircraft must be shown to be airworthy to conduct flight operations in the NAS. The proponent has made its own determination that the unmanned aircraft is airworthy. The unmanned aircraft must be operated in strict compliance with all provisions and conditions contained in the Airworthiness Safety Release (AWR), including all documents and provisions referenced in the COA application.

1. A configuration control program must be in place for hardware and/or software changes made to the UAS to ensure continued airworthiness. If a new or revised Airworthiness Release is generated as a result of changes in the hardware or software affecting the operating characteristics of the UAS, notify the UAS Integration Office via email at 9- [email protected] of the changes as soon as practical.

a. Software and hardware changes should be documented as part of the normal maintenance procedures. Software changes to the aircraft and control station as well as hardware system changes are classified as major changes unless the agency has a formal process accepted by the FAA. These changes should be provided to the UAS Integration Office in summary form at the time of incorporation.

b. Major modifications or changes, performed under the COA, or other authorizations that could potentially affect the safe operation of the system, must be documented and provided to the FAA in the form of a new AWR, unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA.

c. All previously flight proven systems, to include payloads, may be installed or removed as required and that activity must be recorded in the unmanned aircraft and ground control stations logbooks by persons authorized to conduct UAS maintenance. Describe any payload equipment configurations in the UAS logbook that will result in a weight and balance change, electrical loads, and or flight dynamics, unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA.

d. For unmanned aircraft system discrepancies, a record entry should be made by an appropriately rated person to document the finding in the logbook. No flights may be conducted following major changes, modifications or new installations unless the party responsible for certifying airworthiness has determined the system is safe to operate in the NAS and a new AWR is generated, unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA. The successful completion of these major changes, modifications or new installations must be recorded in the appropriate logbook, unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA.

2. The unmanned aircraft must be operated in strict compliance with all provisions and conditions contained within the spectrum analysis assigned and authorized for use within the defined operations area.

3. All items contained in the application for equipment frequency allocation must be adhered to, including the assigned frequencies and antenna equipment characteristics. A ground operational check to verify that the control station can communicate with the aircraft (frequency integration check) must be conducted prior to the launch of the unmanned aircraft to ensure any electromagnetic interference does not adversely affect control of the aircraft.

 

C. Safety of Flight.

1. The Proponent or delegated representative is responsible for halting or canceling activity conducted under the provisions of this COA if, at any time, the safety of persons or property on the ground or in the air is in jeopardy, or if there is a failure to comply with the terms or conditions of this authorization.

2. Sterile Cockpit Procedures.

a. No crewmember may perform any duties during a critical phase of flight not required for the safe operation of the aircraft.

b. Critical phases of flight include all ground operations involving:

1) Taxi (movement of an aircraft under its own power on the surface of an airport),

2) Take-off and landing (launch or recovery), and

3) All other flight operations in which safety or mission accomplishment might be compromised by distractions.

c. No crewmember may engage in, nor may any pilot in command (PIC) permit, any activity during a critical phase of flight which could:

1) Distract any crewmember from the performance of his/her duties, or

2) Interfere in any way with the proper conduct of those duties.

d. The pilot and/or the PIC must not engage in any activity not directly related to the operation of the aircraft. Activities include, but are not limited to: operating UAS sensors or other payload systems.

e. The use of cell phones or other electronic devices is restricted to communications pertinent to the operational control of the unmanned aircraft and any required communications with Air Traffic Control.

3. See-and-Avoid.

a. Unmanned aircraft have no on-board pilot to perform see-and-avoid responsibilities; therefore, when operating outside of active restricted and warning areas approved for aviation activities, provisions must be made to ensure that an equivalent level of safety exists for unmanned operations. Adherence to 14 CFR Part 91 §91.111, §91.113 and §91.115, is required.

1) The PIC is responsible: To remain clear and give way to all manned aviation operations and activities at all times, For the safety of persons or property on the surface with respect to the UAS operation, For ensuring that there is a safe operating distance between aviation activities and unmanned aircraft (UA) at all times, and For operating in compliance with CFR Parts 91.111, 91.113 and 91.115

b. The PIC is responsible to ensure that any visual observer (VO):

1) Can perform their required duties,

2) Are able to see the UA and the surrounding airspace throughout the entire flight, and 3) Are able to provide the PIC with the UA’s flight path and proximity to all aviation activities and other hazards (e.g., terrain, weather, structures) sufficiently for the PIC to exercise effective control of the UA to prevent the UA from creating a collision hazard.

c. VO(s) must be used at all times and must maintain instantaneous communication with the PIC. Electronic messaging or texting is not permitted during flight operations. d. The use of multiple successive VO(s) (daisy chaining) is prohibited.

e. VO(s) must be able to communicate clearly to the PIC any instructions required to remain clear of conflicting traffic.

f. All VO(s) must complete sufficient training to communicate to the PIC any information required to remain clear of conflicting traffic, terrain, and obstructions, maintain proper cloud clearances, and provide navigational awareness. This training, at a minimum, must include knowledge of:

1) Their responsibility to assist PICs in complying with the requirements of:  Section 91.111, Operating Near Other Aircraft,  Section 91.113, Right-of-Way Rules: Except Water Operations,  Section 91.115, Right-of-Way Rules: Water Operations,  Section 91.119, Minimum Safe Altitudes: General, and  Section 91.155, Basic VFR Weather Minimums

2) Air traffic and radio communications, including the use of approved air traffic control/pilot phraseology

3) Appropriate sections of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)

g. The Proponent must not operate in Restricted Areas, Prohibited Areas, Special Flight Rule Areas or the Washington DC Flight Restricted Zone. Such areas are depicted on charts available at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/. Additionally, aircraft operators should beware of and avoid other areas identified in Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) that restrict operations in proximity to Power Plants, Electric Substations, Dams, Wind Farms, Oil Refineries, Industrial Complexes, National Parks, The Disney Resorts, Stadiums, Emergency Services, Military or other Federal Facilities unless approval is received from the appropriate authority prior to the UAS Mission. h. The unmanned aircraft will be registered prior to operations in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

 

D. Reporting Requirements

1. Documentation of all operations associated with UAS activities is required regardless of the airspace in which the UAS operates. NOTE: Negative (zero flights) reports are required.

2. The Proponent must submit the following information on a monthly basis to [email protected] :

a. Name of Proponent, and aircraft registration number,

b. UAS type and model,

c. All operating locations, to include city name and latitude/longitude,

d. Number of flights (per location, per aircraft),

e. Total aircraft operation hours,

f. Takeoff or landing damage, and

g. Equipment malfunction. Required reports include, but are not limited to, failures or malfunctions to the:

(1) Control station (2) Electrical system (3) Fuel system (4) Navigation system (5) On-board flight control system (6) Powerplant

3. The number and duration of lost link events (control, performance and health monitoring, or communications) per UAS, per flight.

4. Incident/Accident/Mishap Reporting After an incident or accident that meets the criteria below, and within 24 hours of that incident, accident or event described below, the proponent must provide initial notification of the following to the FAA via email at mailto: 9-AJV-115- [email protected] and via the UAS COA On-Line forms (Incident/Accident).

a. All accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations where any of the following occurs:

1) Fatal injury, where the operation of a UAS results in a death occurring within 30 days of the accident/mishap

2) Serious injury, where the operation of a UAS results in:  Hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received;  A fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose);  Severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage;   Involving any internal organ; or  Involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.

3) Total unmanned aircraft loss

4) Substantial damage to the unmanned aircraft system where there is damage to the airframe, power plant, or onboard systems that must be repaired prior to further flight

5) Damage to property, other than the unmanned aircraft.

b. Any incident/mishap that results in an unsafe/abnormal operation including but not limited to

1) A malfunction or failure of the unmanned aircraft’s on-board flight control system (including navigation)

2) A malfunction or failure of ground control station flight control hardware or software (other than loss of control link)

3) A power plant failure or malfunction

4) An in-flight fire

5) An aircraft collision involving another aircraft.

6) Any in-flight failure of the unmanned aircraft’s electrical system requiring use of alternate or emergency power to complete the flight

7) A deviation from any provision contained in the COA

8) A deviation from an ATC clearance and/or Letter(s) of Agreement/Procedures

9) A lost control link event resulting in Fly-away, or Execution of a pre-planned/unplanned lost link procedure. c. Initial reports must contain the information identified in the COA On-Line Accident/Incident Report.

d. Follow-on reports describing the accident/incident/mishap(s) must be submitted by providing copies of proponent aviation accident/incident reports upon completion of safety investigations.

e. Civil operators and Public-use agencies (other than those which are part of the Department of Defense) are advised that the above procedures are not a substitute for separate accident/incident reporting required by the National Transportation Safety Board under 49 CFR Part 830 §830.5.

f. For other than Department of Defense operations, this COA is issued with the provision that the FAA be permitted involvement in the proponent’s incident/accident/mishap investigation as prescribed by FAA Order 8020.11, Aircraft Accident and Incident Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.

E. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).

1. A distant (D) NOTAM must be issued prior to conducting UAS operations. This requirement may be accomplished:

a. Through the proponent’s local base operations or NOTAM issuing authority, or

b. By contacting the NOTAM Flight Service Station at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1- 877-487- 6867) not more than 72 hours in advance, but not less than 24 hours for UAS operations prior to the operation. The issuing agency will require the:

1) Name and address of the pilot filing the NOTAM request

2) Location, altitude and operating area

3) Time and nature of the activity. Note: The NOTAM must identify actual coordinates and a Radial/DME fix of a prominent navigational aid, with a radius no larger than that where visual line of sight with the UA can be maintained. The NOTAM must be filed to indicate the defined operations area and periods of UA activity. NOTAMs for generalized, wide-area, or continuous periods are not acceptable.

II. FLIGHT STANDARDS SPECIAL PROVISIONS Failure to comply with any of the conditions and limitations of this COA will be grounds for the immediate suspension or cancellation of this COA.

1. Operations authorized by this COA are limited to UAS weighing less than 55 pounds, including payload. Proposed operations of any UAS weighing more than 55 pounds will require the Proponent to provide the FAA with a new airworthiness Certificate (if necessary), Registration N-Number, Aircraft Description, Control Station, Communication System Description, Picture of UAS and any Certified TSO components. Approval to operate the new UAS is contingent on acknowledgement from FAA of receipt of acceptable documentation.

2. External Load Operations, dropping or spraying aircraft stores, or carrying hazardous materials (including munitions) is prohibited.

3. The UA may not be operated at a speed exceeding 87 knots (100 miles per hour). The COA holder may use either groundspeed or calibrated airspeed to determine compliance with the 87 knot speed restriction. In no case will the UA be operated at airspeeds greater than the maximum operating airspeed recommended by the aircraft manufacturer.

4. The Proponent should conduct and document initial training at a specific training site that will allow for the conduct of scenario-based training exercises. This training should foster a high level of flight proficiency and promote efficient, standardized coordination among pilots, visual observers, and ground crew members. To ensure safety and compliance, the training site should be is well clear of housing areas, roads, nonparticipating persons, and watercraft. When the Proponent has determined that sufficient training scenarios have been completed to achieve an acceptable level of competency, the Proponent is authorized to conduct UAS public aircraft operations in accordance with Title 49 USC §§ Part 40125 at any location within the National Airspace System under the provisions of this COA.

5. The UA must be operated within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the Pilot in Command (PIC) and or the visual observer (VO) at all times. This requires the PIC and VO to be able to use human vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, as specified on their FAA-issued airman medical certificate or equivalent medical certification as determined by the government entity conducting the PAO. The VO may be used to satisfy the VLOS requirement as long as the PIC always maintains VLOS capability.

6. This COA and all documents needed to operate the UAS and conduct operations in accordance with the conditions and limitations stated in this COA are hereinafter referred to as the operating documents. The Proponent must follow the procedures as outlined in the operating documents. If a discrepancy exists within the operating documents, the procedures outlined in the approved COA take precedence and must be followed. The Proponent may update or revise the operating documents, excluding the approved COA, as needed. It is the Proponent’s responsibility to track such revisions and present updated and revised operating documents to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request. The Proponent must also present updated and revised documents if they petition for extension or amendment to this COA. If the Proponent determines that any update or revision would affect the basis upon which the FAA granted this COA, then the Proponent must petition for an amendment to this COA. The FAA’s UAS Integration Office (AFS−80) may be contacted if questions arise regarding updates or revisions to the operating documents.

7. The operating documents must be accessible during UAS operations and made available to the Administrator and/or law enforcement upon request.

8. Any UAS that has undergone maintenance or alterations that affect the UAS operation or flight characteristics, (e.g., replacement of a flight critical component), must undergo a functional test flight prior to conducting further operations under this COA. Functional test flights may only be conducted by a PIC with a VO and must remain at least 500 feet from other people. The functional test flight must be conducted in such a manner so as to not pose an undue hazard to persons and property.

9. The Proponent is responsible for maintaining and inspecting the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.

10. Prior to each flight, the PIC must conduct a pre-flight inspection and determine the UAS is in a condition for safe flight. The pre-flight inspection must account for all potential discrepancies (e.g. inoperable components, items, or equipment). If the inspection reveals a condition that affects the safe operation of the UAS, the aircraft is prohibited from operating until the necessary maintenance has been performed and the UAS is found to be in a condition for safe flight.

11. The Proponent must follow the UAS manufacturer’s maintenance; overhaul, replacement, inspection, and life limit requirements for the aircraft and aircraft components.

12. Each UAS operated under this COA must comply with all manufacturer safety bulletins.

13. Government entities conducting public aircraft operations (PAO) involve operations for the purpose of fulfilling a government function that meet certain conditions specified under Title 49 United States Code, Section 40102(a)(41) & 40125(a)(2). PAO is limited by the statute to certain government operations within U.S. airspace. These operations must comply with general operating rules including those applicable to all aircraft in the National Airspace System. Government entities may exercise their own internal processes regarding aircraft certification, airworthiness, pilot, aircrew, and maintenance personnel certification and training. If the government entity does not have an internal process for PIC certification, an acceptable equivalent is that PIC shall hold

a. Either an airline transport, commercial or private pilot certificate if UAS operations are within 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower, an airport having a published instrument flight procedure, but not having an operational control tower, or 2 NM from an airport not having a published instrument flight procedure or an operational control tower, or 2 NM from a heliport. The PIC must also meet the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR § Part 61.56 in an aircraft in which the PIC is rated on his or her pilot certificate.

b. For UAS operations outside of these locations the government entity may utilize a ground based training course and successful completion of a FAA written examination at the private pilot level or higher (or an FAA-recognized equivalent). The PIC must also hold a current 2nd Class FAA airman medical certificate or equivalent medical certification as determined by the government entity conducting the PAO.

14. The Proponent may not permit any PIC to operate unless the PIC demonstrates the ability to safely operate the UAS in a manner consistent with how the UAS will be operated under this COA, including evasive and emergency maneuvers and maintaining appropriate distances from persons, vessels, vehicles and structures. PIC qualification flight hours and currency must be logged in a manner consistent with 14 CFR § Part 61.51(b). Flights for the purposes of training the Proponent’s PICs and VOs (training, proficiency, and experience-building) and determining the PIC’s ability to safely operate the UAS in a manner consistent with how the UAS will be operated under this COA are permitted under the terms of this COA. However, training operations may only be conducted during dedicated training sessions. During training, proficiency, and experience-building flights, all persons not essential for flight operations are considered nonparticipants, and the PIC must operate the UA with appropriate distance from nonparticipants in accordance with 14 CFR § Part 91.119.

15. Pilots are reminded to follow all federal regulations (e.g. remain clear of all Temporary Flight Restrictions). Additionally, operations over areas administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or U.S. Forest Service must be conducted in accordance with Department of Interior/US Fish & Wildlife Service requirements. (See 50 CFR §§ Part 27.34 and FAA Aeronautical Information Manual Section 4, paragraph 7-4-6.)

16. The presence of observers during flight operations, other than initial or recurrent pilot in-command and visual observer training is authorized given compliance with the following provisions:

a. Observers will receive a safety briefing that addresses the mission intent, safety barriers, non-interference with UAS mission personnel, and emergency procedures in the event of an incident or accident.

b. Observers will be directed to, and contained within, a specific observation point that minimized the risk of injury and ensures that they do not interfere with the UAS mission.

c. Observers must have a valid Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate issued under 14 CFR part 67; an FAA-recognized equivalent is an acceptable means of demonstrating compliance with this requirement.

d. Proponent will ensure that observers do not engage in conversations, discussions, or interviews that distract any crewmember or mission personnel from the performance of his/her duties or interfere in any way with the proper conduct of those duties.

e. Proponent will limit the number of observers to that which can be adequately monitored and protected by personnel and resources onsite.

f. Operation will be conducted in compliance with ALL of the existing provisions, conditions and mitigations of this COA.

17. UAS operations may only be conducted during the daytime and may not be conducted during night, as defined in 14 CFR § Part 1.1. All operations must be conducted under visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Flights under special visual flight rules (SVFR) are not authorized.

18. The UA may not be operated less than 500 feet below or less than 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud or when visibility is less than 3 statute miles from the PIC.

19. If the UAS loses communications or loses its GPS signal, the UA must return to a predetermined location within the defined operating area.

20. The PIC must abort the flight in the event of emergencies or flight conditions that could be a risk to persons and property within the operating area.

21. The PIC is prohibited from beginning a flight unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough available power for the UA to conduct the intended operation and to operate after that for at least five minutes or with the reserve power recommended by the manufacturer if greater than five minutes.

22. Documents used by the Proponent to ensure the safe operation of the UAS and any documents required under 14 CFR § Part 91.9 and Part 91.203 must be available to the PIC at the UAS Ground Control Station any time the aircraft is operating. These documents must be made available to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request.

23. The UA must remain clear and give way to all manned aviation operations and activities at all times.

24. The UAS may not be operated by the PIC from any moving vehicle unless the government entity conducting PAO has determined that such operations can be conducted without causing undue hazard to persons or property and has presented such safety procedures to the FAA. Safety procedures include, but not limited to, emergency procedures, lost link procedures, and consideration of terrain and obstructions that may restrict the ability to maintain visual line of sight. Operations must also comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws pertaining to operations from a moving vehicle.

25. All flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all nonparticipating persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures.

III. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPECIAL PROVISIONS

A. Coordination Requirements.

1. Compliance with Standard Provisions, E. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) satisfies the coordination requirement. Operator must cancel NOTAMs when UAS operations are completed or will not be conducted.

2. Coordination and de-confliction between Military Training Routes (MTRs) is the Proponent’s responsibility. When identifying an operational area, the Proponent must evaluate whether an MTR will be affected. In the event the UAS operational area overlaps (5 miles either side of centerline) an MTR, the operator will contact the scheduling agency in advance to coordinate and de-conflict. Approval from the scheduling agency is not required.

B. Communication Requirements. When operating in the vicinity of an airport without an operating control tower the PIC will announce operations on appropriate Unicom/CTAF frequencies alerting manned pilots of UAS operations.

C. Flight Planning Requirements. This COA will allow small UAS (55 pounds or less) operations during daytime VMC conditions only within Class G airspace under the following limitations:

1. At or below 400 feet AGL, and

2. Beyond the following distances from the airport reference point (ARP) of a public use airport, heliport, gliderport, or water landing port listed in the Airport/Facility Directory, Alaska Supplement, or Pacific Chart Supplement of the U.S. Government Flight Information Publications:

a. 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower, or

b. 3 NM from an airport having a published instrument flight procedure, but not having an operational control tower, or

c. 2 NM from an airport not having a published instrument flight procedure or an operational control tower, or

d. 2 NM from a heliport.

3. The PIC is responsible for identifying the appropriate ATC jurisdiction nearest to the area of operations defined by the NOTAM.

D. Procedural Requirements. This COA authorizes the Proponent to conduct UAS flight operations strictly within a “defined operating area” as identified under the required provision of Section E. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) of this COA.

1. A “defined operating area” is described as a location identified by a Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) Radial/Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) fix. This location must have a defined perimeter that is no larger than that where visual line of sight with the UA can be maintained and a defined operational ceiling at or below 400’ Above the Ground (AGL).

2. UAS operations must remain within this “defined operating area”. The Proponent will discover and manage all risks and associated liabilities that exist within the defined operating area and all risks must be legitimately mitigated to assure the safety of people and property.

3. The UAS must remain within visual line of sight of the PIC and/or VO(s) at all times. The PIC and VO(s) must be positioned such that they can maintain sufficient visual contact with the UA in order to determine its attitude, altitude, and direction of flight. The PIC is responsible to ensure that the UA remains within the defined operating area. “Out of Sight”, or “Behind the Obstruction” flight operations are prohibited.

E. Emergency/Contingency Procedures.

1. Lost Link Procedures:

a. In the event of lost link, the UA must initiate a flight maneuver that ensures timely landing of the aircraft. Lost link airborne operations shall be predictable and the UA shall remain within the defined operating area filed in the NOTAM for that specific operation. In the event that the UA leaves the defined operating area, and the flight track of the UA could potentially enter controlled airspace, the PIC will immediately contact the appropriate ATC facility having jurisdiction over the controlled airspace to advise them of the UASs last known altitude, speed, direction of flight and estimated flight time remaining and the Proponent’s action to recover the UA.

b. Lost link orbit points will not coincide with the centerline of published Victor airways.

c. The UA lost link flight track will not transit or orbit over populated areas.

d. Lost link programmed procedures must de-conflict from all other unmanned operations within the operating area.

2. Lost Visual Line of Sight: If an observer loses sight of the UA, they must notify the PIC immediately. If the UA is visually reacquired promptly, the mission may continue. If not, the PIC will immediately execute the lost link procedures.

 3. Lost Communications: If communication is lost between the PIC and the observer(s), the PIC must immediately execute the lost link procedures.

IV. AUTHORIZATION This Certificate of Waiver or Authorization does not, in itself, waive any Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, nor any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operation conflict with any state law or local ordinance, or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the responsibility of the University of Kentucky to resolve the matter. This COA does not authorize flight within in Restricted Areas, Prohibited Areas, Special Flight Rule Areas or the Washington DC Federal Restricted Zone (FRZ) without pre-approval. The University of Kentucky is hereby authorized to operate the Unmanned Aircraft System in the National Airspace System.

 

Public “Blanket” COA (Version 1.2)

STANDARD PROVISIONS
A. General.
The review of this activity is based upon current understanding of Unmanned Aircraft
System (UAS) operations and their impact on the National Airspace System (NAS).This
Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) will not be considered a precedent for future
operations. As changes in, or understanding of, UAS operations occur, the associated
limitations and conditions may be adjusted.
All personnel engaged in the operation of the UAS in accordance with this authorization
must read and comply with the conditions, limitations, and provisions of this COA.
A copy of the COA including the special limitations must be immediately available to all
operational personnel at each operating location whenever UAS operations are being
conducted.
This COA may be canceled at any time by the Administrator, a person authorized to grant
the authorization, or a representative designated to monitor a specific operation. As a
general rule, this authorization may be canceled when it is no longer required, when there is
an abuse of its provisions, or when unforeseen safety factors develop. Failure to comply
with the authorization is cause for cancellation. All cancellations will be provided in writing
to the proponent.
During the time this COA is approved and active, a site safety evaluation/visit may be
accomplished to ensure COA compliance, assess any adverse impact on ATC or airspace,
and ensure this COA is not burdensome or ineffective. Deviations,
accidents/incidents/mishaps, complaints, etc. will prompt a COA review or site visit to
address the issue. Refusal to allow a site safety evaluation/visit may result in cancellation of
the COA. Note: This section does not pertain to agencies that have other existing
agreements in place with the FAA.
Public Aircraft Operations are defined by statutes 49 USC §40102(a)(41) and §40125.All
public aircraft operations conducted under a COA must comply with the terms of the
statutes.
B. Airworthiness Certification.
The unmanned aircraft must be shown to be airworthy to conduct flight operations in the
NAS. The proponent has made its own determination that the unmanned aircraft is
airworthy. The unmanned aircraft must be operated in strict compliance with all provisions
and conditions contained in the Airworthiness Safety Release (AWR), including all
documents and provisions referenced in the COA application.
1. A configuration control program must be in place for hardware and/or software changes
made to the UAS to ensure continued airworthiness. If a new or revised Airworthiness
Release is generated as a result of changes in the hardware or software affecting the
operating characteristics of the UAS, notify the UAS Integration Office via email at 9-
[email protected] of the changes as soon as practical.
a. Software and hardware changes should be documented as part of the normal
maintenance procedures. Software changes to the aircraft and control station as well
as hardware system changes are classified as major changes unless the agency has a
formal process accepted by the FAA. These changes should be provided to the UAS
Integration Office in summary form at the time of incorporation.
b. Major modifications or changes, performed under the COA, or other authorizations
that could potentially affect the safe operation of the system, must be documented
and provided to the FAA in the form of a new AWR, unless the agency has a formal
process, accepted by the FAA.
c. All previously flight proven systems, to include payloads, may be installed or
removed as required and that activity must be recorded in the unmanned aircraft and
ground control stations logbooks by persons authorized to conduct UAS
maintenance. Describe any payload equipment configurations in the UAS logbook
that will result in a weight and balance change, electrical loads, and or flight
dynamics, unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA.
d. For unmanned aircraft system discrepancies, a record entry should be made by an
appropriately rated person to document the finding in the logbook. No flights may
be conducted following major changes, modifications or new installations unless the
party responsible for certifying airworthiness has determined the system is safe to
operate in the NAS and a new AWR is generated, unless the agency has a formal
process, accepted by the FAA. The successful completion of these major changes,
modifications or new installations must be recorded in the appropriate logbook,
unless the agency has a formal process, accepted by the FAA.
2. The unmanned aircraft must be operated in strict compliance with all provisions and
conditions contained within the spectrum analysis assigned and authorized for use
within the defined operations area.
3. All items contained in the application for equipment frequency allocation must be
adhered to, including the assigned frequencies and antenna equipment characteristics. A
ground operational check to verify that the control station can communicate with the
aircraft (frequency integration check) must be conducted prior to the launch of the
unmanned aircraft to ensure any electromagnetic interference does not adversely affect
control of the aircraft
C. Safety of Flight.
1. The proponent or delegated representative is responsible for halting or canceling
activity conducted under the provisions of this COA if, at any time, the safety of
persons or property on the ground or in the air is in jeopardy, or if there is a failure to
comply with the terms or conditions of this authorization.
2. Sterile Cockpit Procedures.
a. No crewmember may perform any duties during a critical phase of flight not
required for the safe operation of the aircraft.
b. Critical phases of flight include all ground operations involving:
1) Taxi (movement of an aircraft under its own power on the surface of an airport),
2) Take-off and landing (launch or recovery), and
3) All other flight operations in which safety or mission accomplishment might be
compromised by distractions.
c. No crewmember may engage in, nor may any pilot in command (PIC) permit, any
activity during a critical phase of flight which could:
1) Distract any crewmember from the performance of his/her duties, or
2) Interfere in any way with the proper conduct of those duties.
d. The pilot and/or the PIC must not engage in any activity not directly related to the
operation of the aircraft. Activities include, but are not limited to: operating UAS
sensors or other payload systems.
e. The use of cell phones or other electronic devices is restricted to communications
pertinent to the operational control of the unmanned aircraft and any required
communications with Air Traffic Control.
3. See-and-Avoid.
a. Unmanned aircraft have no on-board pilot to perform see-and-avoid responsibilities;
therefore, when operating outside of active restricted and warning areas approved
for aviation activities, provisions must be made to ensure that an equivalent level of
safety exists for unmanned operations. Adherence to 14 CFR Part 91 §91.111,
§91.113 and §91.115, is required.
1) The PIC is responsible:
(a) To remain clear and give way to all manned aviation operations and
activities at all times,
(b) For the safety of persons or property on the surface with respect to the
UAS operation,
(c) For ensuring that there is a safe operating distance between aviation
activities and unmanned aircraft (UA) at all times, and
(d) For operating in compliance with CFR Parts 91.111, 91.113 and 91.115
2) The PIC is responsible to ensure that any visual observer (VO):
(a) Can perform their required duties,
(b) Are able to see the UA and the surrounding airspace throughout the entire
flight, and
(b) Are able to provide the PIC with the UA’s flight path and proximity to
all aviation activities and other hazards (e.g., terrain, weather,
structures) sufficiently for the PIC to exercise effective control of the
UA to prevent the UA from creating a collision hazard.
3) VO(s) must be used at all times and must maintain instantaneous communication
with the PIC. Electronic messaging or texting is not permitted during flight
operations.
4) The use of multiple successive VO(s) (daisy chaining) is prohibited.
5) VO(s) must be able to communicate clearly to the PIC any instructions required
to remain clear of conflicting traffic.
6) All VO(s) must complete sufficient training to communicate to the PIC any
information required to remain clear of conflicting traffic, terrain, and
obstructions, maintain proper cloud clearances, and provide navigational
awareness. This training, at a minimum, must include knowledge of:
(a) Their responsibility to assist PICs in complying with the requirements of:
· Section 91.111, Operating Near Other Aircraft,
· Section 91.113, Right-of-Way Rules: Except Water Operations,
· Section 91.115, Right-of-Way Rules: Water Operations,
· Section 91.119, Minimum Safe Altitudes: General, and
· Section 91.155, Basic VFR Weather Minimums
(b) Air traffic and radio communications, including the use of approved air
traffic control (ATC)/pilot phraseology
(c) Appropriate sections of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
b. The proponent must not operate in Restricted Areas, Prohibited Areas, Special
Flight Rule Areas or the Washington DC Flight Restricted Zone. Such areas are
depicted on charts available at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/.
Additionally, aircraft operators should beware of and avoid other areas identified in

Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) that restrict operations in proximity to Power Plants,
Electric Substations, Dams, Wind Farms, Oil Refineries, Industrial Complexes,
National Parks, The Disney Resorts, Stadiums, Emergency Services, Military or
other Federal Facilities unless approval is received from the appropriate authority
prior to the UAS Mission.
c. The unmanned aircraft will be registered prior to operations in accordance with Title
14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
D. Reporting Requirements
1. Documentation of all operations associated with UAS activities is required regardless
of the airspace in which the UAS operates. NOTE: Negative (zero flights) reports are
required.
2. The proponent must submit the following information on a monthly basis to
UAS COA On-Line:
a. Name of proponent, and aircraft registration number,
b. UAS type and model,
c. All operating locations, to include city name and latitude/longitude,
d. Number of flights (per location, per aircraft),
e. Total aircraft operation hours,
f. Takeoff or landing damage, and
g. Equipment malfunction. Required reports include, but are not limited to, failures or
malfunctions to the:
1) Control station
2) Electrical system
3) Fuel system
4) Navigation system
5) On-board flight control system
6) Powerplant
3. The number and duration of lost link events (control, performance and health
monitoring, or communications) per UAS, per flight.
4. Incident/Accident/Mishap Reporting
After an incident or accident that meets the criteria below, and within 24 hours of that
incident, accident or event described below, the proponent must provide initial
notification of the following to the FAA via email at mailto: 9-AJV-115-
[email protected] and via the UAS COA On-Line forms (Incident/Accident).
a. All accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations where any of the following occurs:
1) Fatal injury, where the operation of a UAS results in a death occurring within 30
days of the accident/mishap
2) Serious injury, where the operation of a UAS results in:
(a) Hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the
date of the injury was received;
(b) A fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose);
(c) Severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage;
(d) Involving any internal organ; or
(e) Involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5
percent of the body surface.
3) Total unmanned aircraft loss
4) Substantial damage to the unmanned aircraft system where there is damage to
the airframe, power plant, or onboard systems that must be repaired prior to
further flight
5) Damage to property, other than the unmanned aircraft.
b. Any incident/mishap that results in an unsafe/abnormal operation including but not
limited to
1) A malfunction or failure of the unmanned aircraft’s on-board flight control
system (including navigation)
2) A malfunction or failure of ground control station flight control hardware or
software (other than loss of control link)
3) A power plant failure or malfunction
4) An in-flight fire
5) An aircraft collision involving another aircraft.
6) Any in-flight failure of the unmanned aircraft’s electrical system requiring use
of alternate or emergency power to complete the flight
7) A deviation from any provision contained in the COA
8) A deviation from an ATC clearance and/or Letter(s) of Agreement/Procedures
9) A lost control link event resulting in
(a) Fly-away, or
(b) Execution of a pre-planned/unplanned lost link procedure.
c. Initial reports must contain the information identified in the COA On-Line
Accident/Incident Report.
d. Follow-on reports describing the accident/incident/mishap(s) must be submitted by
providing copies of proponent aviation accident/incident reports upon completion of
safety investigations.
e. Civil operators and Public-use agencies (other than those which are part of the
Department of Defense) are advised that the above procedures are not a substitute
for separate accident/incident reporting required by the National Transportation
Safety Board under 49 CFR Part 830 §830.5.
f. For other than Department of Defense operations, this COA is issued with the
provision that the FAA be permitted involvement in the proponent’s
incident/accident/mishap investigation as prescribed by FAA Order 8020.11,
Aircraft Accident and Incident Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.
E. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).
A distant (D) NOTAM must be issued when unmanned aircraft operations are being
conducted unless notification of UAS operations will compromise the safety of the public
agency. This requirement may be accomplished:
1. Through the proponent’s local base operations or NOTAM issuing authority, or
2. By contacting the NOTAM Flight Service Station at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487-
6867) not more than 72 hours in advance, but not less than 24 hours for UAS operations
prior to the operation. The issuing agency will require the:
a. Name and address of the pilot filing the NOTAM request
b. Location, altitude and operating area
c. Time and nature of the activity.
Note: The NOTAM must identify actual coordinates and a Radial/DME fix of a prominent
navigational aid, with a radius no larger than that where visual line of sight with the UA
can be maintained. The NOTAM must be filed to indicate the defined operations area and
periods of UA activity. NOTAMs for generalized, wide-area, or continuous periods are not
acceptable.
3. Due to the immediacy of some tactical operations, it is understood by the Federal
Aviation Administration that this NOTAM notification may be reduced to no less than
30 minutes prior to these operations.
FLIGHT STANDARDS SPECIAL PROVISIONS
Failure to comply with any of the conditions and limitations of this COA will be grounds for
the immediate suspension or cancellation of this COA.
1. Operations authorized by this COA are limited to UAS weighing less than 55 pounds,
including payload. Proposed operations of any UAS weighing more than 55 pounds will
require the proponent to provide the FAA with a new airworthiness Certificate (if
necessary), Registration, Aircraft Description, Control Station, Communication System
Description, Picture of UAS and any Certified TSO components. Approval to operate the
new UAS is contingent on acknowledgement from FAA of receipt of acceptable
documentation.
2. External Load Operations, dropping or spraying aircraft stores, or carrying hazardous
materials (including munitions) is prohibited.
3. The UA may not be operated at a speed exceeding 87 knots (100 miles per hour). The COA
holder may use either groundspeed or calibrated airspeed to determine compliance with the
87 knot speed restriction. In no case will the UA be operated at airspeeds greater than the
maximum operating airspeed recommended by the aircraft manufacturer.
4. The proponent shall conduct and document initial training at a specific training site that will
allow for the conduct of scenario-based training exercises. This training should foster a high
level of flight proficiency and promote efficient, standardized coordination among pilots,
visual observers, and ground crew members. To ensure safety and compliance, the training
site should be well clear of housing areas, roads, non-participating persons, and watercraft.
When the proponent has determined that sufficient training scenarios have been completed
to achieve an acceptable level of competency, the proponent is authorized to conduct UAS
public aircraft operations in accordance with Title 49 USC §§ Part 40125 at any location
within the National Airspace System under the provisions of this COA.
5. The UA must be operated within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the Pilot in Command
(PIC) and or the visual observer (VO) at all times. This requires the PIC and VO to be able
to use human vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, as specified on
their FAA-issued airman medical certificate or equivalent medical certification as
determined by the government entity conducting the PAO. The VO may be used to satisfy
the VLOS requirement as long as the PIC always maintains VLOS capability.
6. This COA and all documents needed to operate the UAS and conduct operations in
accordance with the conditions and limitations stated in this COA are hereinafter referred to
as the operating documents. The Proponent must follow the procedures as outlined in the
operating documents. If a discrepancy exists within the operating documents, the
procedures outlined in the approved COA take precedence and must be followed. The
proponent may update or revise the operating documents, excluding the approved COA, as
needed. It is the proponent’s responsibility to track such revisions and present updated and
revised operating documents to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon
request. The proponent must also present updated and revised documents if they petition for
extension or amendment to this COA. If the proponent determines that any update or
revision would affect the basis upon which the FAA granted this COA, then the proponent
must petition for an amendment to this COA. The FAA’s UAS Integration Office (AFS−80)
may be contacted if questions arise regarding updates or revisions to the operating
documents.
7. The operating documents must be accessible during UAS operations and made available to
the Administrator and/or law enforcement upon request.
8. Any UAS that has undergone maintenance or alterations that affect the UAS operation or
flight characteristics, (e.g., replacement of a flight critical component), must undergo a
functional test flight prior to conducting further operations under this COA. Functional test
flights may only be conducted by a PIC with a VO and essential ground crew, and must
remain at least 500 feet from other people. The functional test flight must be conducted in
such a manner so as to not pose an undue hazard to persons and property.
9. The proponent is responsible for maintaining and inspecting the UAS to ensure that it is in a
condition for safe operation.
10. Prior to each flight, the PIC must conduct a pre-flight inspection and determine the UAS is
in a condition for safe flight. The pre-flight inspection must account for all potential
discrepancies (e.g. inoperable components, items, or equipment). If the inspection reveals a
condition that affects the safe operation of the UAS, the aircraft is prohibited from
operating until the necessary maintenance has been performed and the UAS is found to be
in a condition for safe flight.
11. The proponent must follow the UAS manufacturer’s maintenance; overhaul, replacement,
inspection, and life limit requirements for the aircraft and aircraft components.
12. Each UAS operated under this COA must comply with all manufacturer safety bulletins.
13. Government entities conducting public aircraft operations (PAO) involve operations for the
purpose of fulfilling a government function that meet certain conditions specified under
Title 49 United States Code, Section 40102(a)(41) & 40125(a)(2). PAO is limited by the
statute to certain government operations within U.S. airspace. These operations must
comply with general operating rules including those applicable to all aircraft in the National
Airspace System. Government entities may exercise their own internal processes regarding
aircraft certification, airworthiness, pilot, aircrew, and maintenance personnel certification
and training.
14. The Proponent may not permit any PIC to operate unless the PIC demonstrates the ability to
safely operate the UAS in a manner consistent with how the UAS will be operated under
this COA, including evasive and emergency maneuvers and maintaining appropriate
distances from persons, vessels, vehicles and structures. PIC qualification flight hours and
currency must be logged in a manner consistent with 14 CFR § Part 61.51(b). Flights for
the purposes of training the proponent’s PICs and VOs (training, proficiency, and
experience-building) and determining the PIC’s ability to safely operate the UAS in a
manner consistent with how the UAS will be operated under this COA are permitted under
the terms of this COA. However, training operations may only be conducted during
dedicated training sessions. During training, proficiency, and experience-building flights,
all persons not essential for flight operations are considered nonparticipants, and the PIC
must operate the UA with appropriate distance from nonparticipants in accordance with 14
CFR § Part 91.119.
15. Pilots are reminded to follow all federal regulations (e.g. remain clear of all Temporary
Flight Restrictions). Additionally, operations over areas administered by the National Park
Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or U.S. Forest Service must be conducted in
accordance with Department of Interior/US Fish & Wildlife Service requirements. (See 50
CFR §§ Part 27.34 and FAA Aeronautical Information Manual Section 4, paragraph 7-4-6.)
16. The presence of observers (i.e. spectators) during flight operations, other than initial or
recurrent pilot-in-command and visual observer training is authorized given compliance
with the following provisions:
a. Observers will receive a safety briefing that addresses the mission intent, safety barriers,
non-interference with UAS mission personnel, and emergency procedures in the event
of an incident or accident.
b. Observers will be directed to, and contained within, a specific observation point that
minimized the risk of injury and ensures that they do not interfere with the UAS
mission.
c. Proponent will ensure that observers do not engage in conversations, discussions, or
interviews that distract any crewmember or mission personnel from the performance of
his/her duties or interfere in any way with the proper conduct of those duties.
d. Proponent will limit the number of observers to that which can be adequately monitored
and protected by personnel and resources onsite.
e. Operation will be conducted in compliance with ALL of the existing provisions,
conditions and mitigations of this COA.
17. UAS operations may be conducted during the day or night (see Flight Standards Special
Provision 25 for night operations) as defined in 14 CFR § Part 1.1. All operations must be
conducted under visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Flights under special visual
flight rules (SVFR) are not authorized.
18. The UA may not be operated less than 500 feet below or less than 2,000 feet horizontally
from a cloud or when visibility is less than 3 statute miles from the PIC.
19. If the UAS loses communications or loses its GPS signal, the UA must return to a predetermined
location within the defined operating area.
20. The PIC must abort the flight in the event of emergencies or flight conditions that could be
a risk to persons and property within the operating area.
21. The PIC is prohibited from beginning a flight unless (considering wind and forecast
weather conditions) there is enough available power for the UA to conduct the intended
operation and to operate after that for at least five minutes or with the reserve power
recommended by the manufacturer if greater than five minutes.
22. Documents used by the proponent to ensure the safe operation of the UAS and any
documents required under 14 CFR § Part 91.9 and Part 91.203 must be available to the PIC
at the UAS Ground Control Station any time the aircraft is operating. These documents
must be made available to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request.
23. The UA must remain clear and give way to all manned aviation operations and activities at
all times.
24. The UAS may not be operated by the PIC from any moving vehicle unless the government
entity conducting PAO has determined that such operations can be conducted without
causing undue hazard to persons or property and has presented such safety procedures to
the FAA. Safety procedures include, but not limited to, emergency procedures, lost link
procedures, and consideration of terrain and obstructions that may restrict the ability to
maintain visual line of sight. Operations must also comply with all applicable federal, state
and local laws pertaining to operations from a moving vehicle.
25. Small UAS operations may be conducted at night, as defined in 14 CFR § 1.1, provided:
a. All operations under the approved COA must use one or more visual observers (VO);
b. Prior to conducting operations that are the subject of the COA, the remote pilot in
command (PIC) and VO must be trained to recognize and overcome visual illusions
caused by darkness, and understand physiological conditions which may degrade
night vision. This training must be documented and must be presented for inspection
upon request from the Administrator or an authorized representative;
c. The sUA must be equipped with lighted anti-collision lighting visible from a distance
of no less than 3 statute miles. The intensity of the anti-collision lighting may be
reduced if, because of operating conditions, it would be in the interest of safety to do
so.
Note: Night, as defined in 14 CFR § 1.1 is equal to approximately 30 minutes after sunset
until 30 minutes before sunrise.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPECIAL PROVISIONS
A. Coordination Requirements.
1. Compliance with Standard Provisions, E. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) satisfies the
coordination requirement. Operator must cancel NOTAMs when UAS operations
are completed or will not be conducted.
2. Coordination and de-confliction between Military Training Routes (MTR) and
Special Use Airspace (SUA) is the operator’s responsibility. When identifying an
operational area the operator must evaluate whether an MTR or SUA will be
affected. In the event the UAS operational area overlaps an MTR or SUA, the
operator will contact the scheduling agency in advance to coordinate and deconflict.
Approval from the scheduling agency for MTR and non-regulatory SUA
is not required. Scheduling agencies for MTRs are listed in the Area Planning
AP/1B Military Planning Routes North and South America. Scheduling agencies
for SUAs are listed in the FAA JO 7400.8.
B. Communication Requirements.
When operating in the vicinity of an airport without an operating control tower the PIC will
announce operations on appropriate Unicom/CTAF frequencies alerting manned pilots of
UAS operations.
C. Flight Planning Requirements.
This COA will allow small UAS (weighing less than 55 pounds) operations during daytime
VMC conditions only within Class G airspace under the following limitations:
a. At or below 400 feet AGL, and
b. Beyond the following distances from the airport reference point (ARP) of a public use
airport, heliport, gliderport, or water landing port listed in the Airport/Facility Directory,
Alaska Supplement, or Pacific Chart Supplement of the U.S. Government Flight
Information Publications:
1) 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower, or
2) 3 NM from an airport having a published instrument flight procedure, but not
having an operational control tower, or
3) 2 NM from an airport not having a published instrument flight procedure or an
operational control tower, or
4) 2 NM from a heliport.
c. The PIC is responsible for identifying the appropriate ATC jurisdiction nearest to the
area of operations defined by the NOTAM.
D. Procedural Requirements.
1. This COA authorizes the proponent to conduct UAS flight operations strictly within a
“defined incident perimeter” as identified under the required provision of Section IE.
Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) of this COA.
2. All Flights operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all nonparticipating
persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures unless:
a. A “defined operating area” is described as a location identified by a Very High
Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) Radial/Distance Measuring Equipment
(DME) fix. This location must have a defined perimeter that is no larger than that
where visual line of sight with the UA can be maintained and a defined
operational ceiling at or below 400’ Above the Ground (AGL).
b. The “defined incident perimeter” is established by means of barriers, structures or
public safety officials authorized to sufficiently protect nonparticipating persons
from entering the perimeter of the operating area.
c. UAS operations must remain within this “defined incident perimeter” controlled
by law enforcement at or below 400 feet AGL. The proponent and supporting law
enforcement/first responder/safety agencies will discover and manage all risks
and associated liabilities that exist within the defined operating perimeter and all
risks must be legitimately mitigated to assure the safety of people and property.
d. The PIC has made a safety assessment of the risk of operating closer to those
objects and determined that it does not present an undue hazard and flight
operations will not be conducted directly over nonparticipating persons. The PIC,
VO, operator trainees or essential persons are not considered nonparticipating
persons under this provision.
E. Emergency/Contingency Procedures.
1. Lost Link Procedures:
a. In the event of lost link, the UA must initiate a flight maneuver that ensures timely
landing of the aircraft. Lost link airborne operations shall be predictable and the UA
shall remain within the defined operating area filed in the NOTAM for that specific
operation. In the event that the UA leaves the defined operating area, and the flight
track of the UA could potentially enter controlled airspace, the PIC will immediately
contact the appropriate ATC facility having jurisdiction over the controlled airspace
to advise them of the UASs last known altitude, speed, direction of flight and
estimated flight time remaining and the Proponent’s action to recover the UA.
b. Lost link orbit points will not coincide with the centerline of published Victor
airways.
c. The UA lost link flight track will not transit or orbit over populated areas.
d. Lost link programmed procedures must de-conflict from all other unmanned
operations within the operating area.
2. Lost Visual Line of Sight:
A VO loses sight of the UA, they must notify the PIC immediately. If the UA is visually
reacquired promptly, the mission may continue. If not, the PIC will immediately
execute the lost link procedures.
3. Lost Communications:
If communication is lost between the PIC and the VO(s), the PIC must immediately
execute the lost link procedures.


How to Get Your $5 Drone Registration Refund & Info Deleted.

drone-registration-refund

Brief Background

In February 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this Act, Section 336 told the FAA to not create a rule or regulation governing model aircraft that meet all 5 elements. This is not all model or recreational aircraft, but ONLY those that meet all of the qualifications listed in Section 336.

The FAA created a set of drone registration regulations back in the fall of 2015 that applied to model aircraft and non-model aircraft. On December 24, 2015, John Taylor, along with my help, sued the FAA in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. For an in-depth discussion on the case, read my complete guide to the Taylor v. FAA lawsuit.

On May 19, 2017, the D.C. Circuit ruled “that Taylor’s petition for review of the Registration Rule be granted and the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft be vacated[.]” The FAA had a chance to appeal the case, but they did not so on July 3, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling went into effect. Shortly after the ruling went into effect, the FAA made an announcement that you can request a $5 refund AND also have your information deleted.

 

FAA’s Drone Refund/ Info Delete Announcement

Here is what the announcement said:

The FAA is providing the following updated information regarding the Small UAS Registration and Marking interim final rule as a result of a recent decision (PDF) by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the small UAS registration program.

The court’s decision invalidated the registration requirement as it applies to certain model aircraft that meet the definitional and operational requirements provided in section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (PDF). Owners of model aircraft which are operated in compliance with section 336 are not required to register. Owners of all other small unmanned aircraft, including newly-purchased unmanned aircraft not operated exclusively in compliance with section 336, remain subject to the registration requirement. The FAA continues to encourage voluntary registration for all owners of small unmanned aircraft.

The FAA is working on a final rule with respect to registration and marking that will implement the court’s decision. In the meantime, if you are an owner operating exclusively in compliance with section 336 and you wish to delete your registration and receive a refund of your registration fee, you may do so by accessing a registration deletion and self-certification form (PDF) and mailing it to the FAA at the address designated on the form. Owners who already received a refund during the initial grace period are not eligible to receive a refund. This form has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for approval of the information collection.

Who Does This Apply To?

The D.C. Circuit’s ruling applied ONLY to recreational flyers who fall within the protections of Section 336. This did NOT apply to commercial flyers. Not all recreational flyers fall into the Section 336 protected category. I would say many are actually Part 107 recreational flyers who ARE required to fly with a registered drone. Basically, flying recreationally does not by itself mean you are in the protected class. See my discussion on Part 107 recreational vs. Section 336 recreational for a more in-depth discussion.

Where Does the FAA go From Here?

The announcement said, “The FAA is working on a final rule with respect to registration and marking that will implement the court’s decision.” The rulemaking process to create regulations takes a long time to complete. You are looking at roughly 3 years at a minimum. So it looks like the FAA might be moving in the direction to fix the regulations in Part 48 that speak to model aircraft. (E.g. 14 CFR 48.100 “Required information: Individuals intending to use the small unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft.”)

Additionally, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon because the FAA has enough on its plate trying to get out the over people regulations and extended operations regulations. Constraining those efforts is President Trump’s executive order requiring 2 regulations to be repealed for every new regulation created unless an exemption is obtained from the Office of Management and Budget.

 

Words of Warning Before Filling it Out

1. Can you really trust the FAA with your bank account information?  

You have to give the FAA your name, address, and financial institution information.  Kinda messed up if you ask me. You have to give MORE confidential information to the FAA to get the $5 back and information deleted that was illegally obtained. I wouldn’t waste my time for the $5. The deletion of the personal information is the only thing I would be interested in.

 

2. By signing this document, you could create problems for yourself in the future.

The instructions say, “On the first page, in order to self-certify, please check each applicable stipulation in the list of section 336 provisions. If each provision is not checked, your record deletion and refund will not be processed.” There are multiple problematic statements in this document which could cause problems down the line in future enforcement actions. I’m not going to get into all the problems or why there are problems because at the end of the day, you are not my client and I’m not your attorney. If you want to find out more about the problems, you might want to hire an aviation attorney to find out.

 

The delete registration and request refund document is located here.

 

 


Georgia Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of July 1, 2017

6-1-4 of Official Code of Georgia Annotated

(a)

(1) As used in this Code section, the term ‘unmanned aircraft system’ means a powered, aerial vehicle that:

(A) Does not carry a human operator and is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft;

(B) Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;

(C) Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely; and

(D) Can be expendable or recoverable.

(2) Such term shall not include a satellite.

(b) Any ordinance, resolution, regulation, or policy of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state regulating the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems shall be deemed preempted and shall be null, void, and of no force and effect; provided, however, that a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state may:

(1) Enforce any ordinance that was adopted on or before April 1, 2017;

(2) Adopt an ordinance that enforces Federal Aviation Administration restrictions; or

(3) Adopt an ordinance that provides for or prohibits the launch or intentional landing of an unmanned aircraft system from or on its public property except with respect to the operation of an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes.

(c) The state, through agency or departmental rules and regulations, may provide for or prohibit the launch or intentional landing of an unmanned aircraft system from or on its public property.

 

 

The Georgia House passed a resolution (HR 744) to create a committee to look into drones.  The committee issued their report on December 1, 2015.  The report listed out specifically 15 recommendations. While not law, it gives us a “flavor” as to what the Georgia House is thinking.

 

1. Continue to monitor FAA Regulations with regards to registration requirements of hobbyist operators. The committee does not want to duplicate the process or hinder the industry.

2. Form a commission made up of legislators, researchers, industry experts, and others deemed appropriate to help develop policy and encourage industry expansion within the state.

3. Continue to encourage our universities and technical colleges to find ways to get involved by offering classes, certifications, or any other opportunities that may be deemed necessary.

4. Encourage the state and its agencies to use drone technology in areas where it could provide a cost savings or improve safety.

5. Look for opportunities to encourage venture capitalists to help with startups in Georgia.

6. Protect citizen privacy by making it unlawful to video or photograph another person’s property without permission with limited exceptions to this.

7. Prohibit weaponizing a drone. 8. Make it a violation to fly in or around certain locations such as the capitol.

9. Allow local governments to restrict the use of drones on their publically owned land.

10. Make it unlawful to fly around or to interfere with an emergency scene or to interfere with public safety personnel carrying out official duties.

11. Require law enforcement to have a search warrant to use drones in areas to collect evidence where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

12. Require any videos or photos taken of private property by a government entity without evidentiary value to a specific case to be purged.

13. Make it unlawful to take off from or to recover a drone from private or public property without permission.

14. Prohibit use of drones for hunting and fishing or to use a drone to interfere with someone else that is hunting, fishing, or trapping.

15. Prohibit the use of drones within so many feet of a public road without permission.

The Governor of Georgia issued on November 2nd, 2016 an executive order “That a Commission on Unmanned Aircraft Technology appointed by the Governor is hereby created to make state-level recommendations to the Governor consistent with current FAA regulations as well as the State’s business and public safety interests.”

The Governor appointed to the commission:

  • David Vigilante, Legal Senior Vice President, CNN
  • Christopher Davidson, State Archivist/Assistant Vice Chancellor, Georgia Archives, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Jacob Hinton, Partner, Flyover Services LLC
  • Lewis Massey, Partner, Massey, Watson & Hembree LLC
  • Michael Wall, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Comcast (Georgia)
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Connecticut Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as ofJuly 1, 2017

Public Act No. 17-52

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPALITIES AND UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) As used in this section, “commercial unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft operated remotely by a pilot in command holding a valid remote pilot certificate with a small unmanned aircraft systems rating issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(b) No municipality shall enact or enforce an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, use, transportation or operation of any commercial unmanned aircraft or otherwise regulate the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, use, transportation or operation of such aircraft, except as otherwise authorized by state and federal law, and to the extent they do not conflict with policies and procedures adopted by the Connecticut Airport Authority. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, any municipality that is also a water company, as defined in section 25-32a of the general statutes, may enact and enforce ordinances or resolutions that regulate or prohibit the use or operation of private and commercial unmanned aircraft over such municipality’s public water supply and Class I or Class II land, as described in section 25-37c of the general statutes, provided such ordinances or resolutions do not conflict with federal law or policies and procedures adopted by the Connecticut Airport Authority.

Approved June 13, 2017

 

Connecticut General Assembly committee issued a report in 2014 on Drone Use Regulation. It is best to read this report as it details how many Connecticut laws could apply to drones. Keep in mind this was done in 2014 so some laws could have changed.

 

Additionally, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection created a page on remote controlled model aircraft or drones letting them know that their use is “prohibited at Connecticut State Parks, State Forests or other lands under the control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, unless specifically authorized by the Commissioner in a Special Use License.” The page also mentions that noise, hazards, wildlife disruption regulations could apply.

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