FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 & Drones


Brief Summary of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018:

Representative Shuster introduced on 4/13/2018 the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 which plans to fund the FAA out until 2023. This is a very large bill that addresses many things aviation related. For purposes of this article, only drone-related issues will be covered.

Some of the sections of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 are almost copy-pastes of Sections 331-336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  Some of the provisions below are from the 21st Century AIRR Act from 2017 that failed to become law.

Like this article? This article is part of my Drone Legislation Database.

Notable Points of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

  • Local government regulations?  Tells the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s Office to conduct a study on “the regulation and oversight of the low-altitude operations of small unmanned aircraft and small unmanned aircraft systems” and “appropriate roles and responsibilities of Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments in regulating and overseeing the operations of small unmanned aircraft in airspace 400 feet above ground level and below.”
  • User fees for drones? Tells the Comptroller General of the United States to do a study on appropriate fee mechanisms to recover the costs of “the regulation and safety oversight of unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems” and “the provision of air navigation services to unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems.” Does this mean having unmanned aircraft flyers pay for UTM?
  • Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management Systems
    • Tells FAA to “initiate a rule making to establish procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates” for unmanned aircraft traffic management systems.
    • Provides for unmanned aircraft traffic management system or communication, navigation, or surveillance system or service to get an approval prior to rule making. (Think of this like the Section 333 exemptions back in the day prior to Part 107). This is only for croplands, non-congested areas, and where UAS pose a very low risk.
  • Model Aircraft
    • For the Section 336 protected aircraft, adds that an aircraft cannot be considered a protected model aircraft if it flies over or within 500ft laterally of a facility that operates amusement rides for the general public, unless authorized by the owner of the amusement facility.
    • Allows for flight instruction or educational flights, even if compensated, to be done in the protected model aircraft category.
    • Defines a Community Based Organization to be:
      • “(1) is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
        “(2) is exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
        “(3) the mission of which is demonstrably the furtherance of model aviation;
        “(4) provides a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for all aspects of model aviation addressing the assembly and operation of model aircraft and that emphasize safe aeromodeling operations within the national airspace system and the protection and safety of individuals and property on the ground;
        “(5) provides programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs; and
        “(6) provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.
    • Tells the FAA to make a process to recognize community based organizations that meet the criteria above.
  • Commercial Drones
    • Tells the FAA to update two regulations in Part 107. Specifically section 107.205 and section 107.25 to allow those flying a drone from a moving vehicle or under a beyond the line of sight waiver to be able to carry other person’s property for compensation or hire.
    • Tells the FAA to publish on the FAA’s website a “sample of the safety justifications, offered by applicants for small unmanned aircraft system waivers and airspace authorizations, that have been approved by the Administration for each regulation waived or class of airspace authorized.”
    • Tells the FAA to establish a small UAS air carrier certificate for transporting property for compensation or hire.
    • Tells the FAA to create a SUAS air carrier certificate process that is “streamlined, simple, performance-based, and risk-based.”
    • Tells the Department of Transportation to develop a classification system for SUAS air carriers to establish economic authority by only requiring registration with the DOT and have a valid SUAS air carrier certificate issued by the FAA.
  • Test Sites. Extends the tests sites for 6 more years after the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
  • Indian Tribes. Allows Indian tribes to obtain public aircraft status using unmanned aircraft.
  • Registration of Aircraft.
    • Tells the FAA to “develop and track metrics to assess compliance with and effectiveness of the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems” with respect to:
      • “(1) the levels of compliance with the interim final rule and any subsequent final rule;”
      • “(2) the number of enforcement actions taken by the Administration for violations of or noncompliance with the interim final rule and any subsequent final rule, together with a description of the actions; and”  [Note: Once again, already reported on. John Taylor from the Taylor v. FAA case filed a Freedom of Information Act request from the FAA and they came back with a surprising FOIA response. The FOIA response was published on SUAS News.]
  • Special Research and Development Category.  Remember Section 336 for model aircraft? Well, this bill wants to create a similar protected class for aircraft being flown strictly for research and development that is even less restrictive than the proposed model aircraft elements below. It does not have a weight limit.  That being said, it prohibits the FAA from creating, a rule or regulation regarding this special category.
  • Calls for a bunch of research.  Use of spectrum for manned and unmanned aircraft, mid-air collision between manned and unmanned aircraft, beyond line of sight, probabilistic assessment of risks, metrics for exemptions.

Pros:

  • This bill has the potential to speed up the implementation of package delivery in the United States by allowing package delivery companies to fly under the existing easier set of regulations which currently do not allow for beyond line of sight waivers to be given for package delivery. It also creates an small unmanned aircraft air carrier certificate.
  • It calls for the DOT Inspector General’s Office to conduct a study on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of state and local in regulating drones below 400ft. Notice it is conduct a study. This is good because if the state or local law makers are considering creating a law, you can tell them to hold off until this study is completed. At least this buys you time and at best prevents some extra state and local drone laws.

Cons:

  • Extremely weak on changing the FAA’s current extremely relaxed enforcement philosophy. The total number of prosecutions since 2015 against unmanned aircraft flyers is at least 50. We have millions of flights with tons of stupid and illegal activity all over the internet. And it’s just 50? The bill tells the FAA to track some stuff, the DOT IG’s office to track the FAA’s progress and give a report on this. What is that going to do? We know there is already mass non-compliance all over the place.
  • There are no penalties for the FAA not doing something.
  • The SUAS air carrier certificate is for the SMALL UAS which are under 55 pounds. If you want to do some heavy package delivery, this isn’t an option for you.
  • Does not decriminalizing the counter UAS technologies/methodologies.

Questions Left Unanswered:

  • What happens if the FAA does not do what it was told to do? There is a whole lot of “the FAA must do this and that” going on here but what happens if they do not meet their deadlines? There needs to be some penalties in here to get the FAA moving; otherwise, this act is just letters on a page.
  • How will new Community Based Organizations come up?  The criteria defining a CBO says, “provides programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs” and “provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.”  Will the FAA have a long term policy of not requiring a person to be a member of a CBO to fall into Part 101? For example, let’s say some people want to create a CBO just for FPV racing.  Setting aside the whole FPV goggle “see and avoid” interpretive rule from 2014 issue, prior to the FPV group becoming a CBO, won’t everyone have to be a remote pilot operating under Part 107 until the CBO gets recognized? Will AMA or DUG allow you to fly under their rules while you are attempting to start your own CBO?
  • Double standards? Regarding model aircraft, why is critical infrastructure or prisons NOT mentioned but amusement parks are listed?  Why can’t tribal governments fly manned aircraft as public aircraft but can for unmanned aircraft?
  • SUAS air carrier certificate process that is streamlined, simple, performance-based, and risk-based? Simple? How in the world can this be done simply? Let me tell you what. The FAA is going to tell companies to go and get an exemption for portions of the regulations and then apply for a 135 certificate. There is nothing simple about this. The better thing to do is try and avoid air carrier classification and do package delivery under Part 107 with the waivers but you are still stuck with all the headaches there. Trust me. I’m working on waivers and they can be very time consuming. The recent DOT Inspector General’s testimony put waiver passage rates at around 10%. Thankfully, my waiver passage rates are in the 90’s.
  • Can someone please clean up the language?
    • ‘‘(g) EFFECTIVE PERIODS.—An exemption or certificate of waiver or authorization issued under this section, or an amendment of such exemption or certificate, shall cease to be valid on the effective date of a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems issued under section 45502(b)(1).” Section 45502 is really the “updated” version of Section 332 of the FMRA of 2012 and was finally fulfilled by the FAA in the creation of Part 107 in August 29th, 2016.
    • In Section 334, it says, ” It is the sense of Congress that …..the unauthorized operation of unmanned aircraft near airports presents a serious hazard to aviation safety; ……91.126 through 91.131 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit unauthorized operation of an aircraft in controlled airspace near an airport ……Federal aviation regulations, including section 91.13 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit the operation of an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” Why are they citing Part 91 when unmanned aircraft operate under Part 107? Yes, I know Section 333 exemption operations are under Part 91 but this is like some weird hold over from the pre-107 days.

 

 

Cosponsors of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018:

7 Democrats and 7 Republicans.

  • Rep. DeFazio, Peter A. [D-OR-4]
  • Rep. Smith, Lamar [R-TX-21]
  • Rep. LoBiondo, Frank A. [R-NJ-2]
  • Rep. Larsen, Rick [D-WA-2]
  • Rep. Barletta, Lou [R-PA-11]
  • Rep. Titus, Dina [D-NV-1]
  • Rep. Graves, Sam [R-MO-6]
  • Rep. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large]
  • Rep. Hunter, Duncan D. [R-CA-50]
  • Rep. Garamendi, John [D-CA-3]
  • Rep. Denham, Jeff [R-CA-10]
  • Rep. Capuano, Michael E. [D-MA-7]
  • Rep. Graves, Garret [R-LA-6]
  • Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]

 

Actual Text of Unmanned Aircraft Portions of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018:

SEC. 331. DEFINITIONS.

Except as otherwise provided, the definitions contained in section 45501 of title 49, United States Code (as added by this Act), shall apply to this subtitle.

SEC. 332. CODIFICATION OF EXISTING LAW; ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS.

(a) In General.—Subtitle VII of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after chapter 453 the following:

“CHAPTER 455—UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS


“Sec.

“45501. Definitions.

“45502. Integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace system.

“45503. Risk-based permitting of unmanned aircraft systems.

“45504. Public unmanned aircraft systems.

“45505. Special rules for certain unmanned aircraft systems.

“45506. Certification of new air navigation facilities for unmanned aircraft and other aircraft.

“45507. Special rules for certain UTM and low-altitude CNS.

“45508. Operation of small unmanned aircraft.

“45509. Special rules for model aircraft.

“45510. Carriage of property for compensation or hire.

“45511. Micro UAS operations.

 

§ 45501. Definitions

“In this chapter, the following definitions apply:

“(1) AERIAL DATA COLLECTION.—The term ‘aerial data collection’ means the gathering of data by a device aboard an unmanned aircraft during flight, including imagery, sensing, and measurement by such device.

“(2) ARCTIC.—The term ‘Arctic’ means the United States zone of the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Bering Sea north of the Aleutian chain.

“(3) CERTIFICATE OF WAIVER; CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORIZATION.—The terms ‘certificate of waiver’ and ‘certificate of authorization’ mean a Federal Aviation Administration grant of approval for a specific flight operation.

“(4) CNS.—The term ‘CNS’ means a communication, navigation, or surveillance system or service.

“(5) MODEL AIRCRAFT.—the term ‘model aircraft’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—

“(A) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;

“(B) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and

“(C) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

“(6) PERMANENT AREAS.—The term ‘permanent areas’ means areas on land or water that provide for launch, recovery, and operation of small unmanned aircraft.

“(7) PUBLIC UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.—The term ‘public unmanned aircraft system’ means an unmanned aircraft system that meets the qualifications and conditions required for operation of a public aircraft (as defined in section 40102(a)).

“(8) SENSE-AND-AVOID CAPABILITY.—The term ‘sense-and-avoid capability’ means the capability of an unmanned aircraft to remain a safe distance from and to avoid collisions with other airborne aircraft.

“(9) SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term ‘small unmanned aircraft’ means an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft.

“(10) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The term ‘unmanned aircraft’ means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

“(11) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.—The term ‘unmanned aircraft system’ means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements (including 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.

“(12) UTM.—The term ‘UTM’ means an unmanned aircraft traffic management system or service.

 

§ 45502. Integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace system

“(a) Required Planning For Integration.—

“(1) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.—Not later than November 10, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with representatives of the aviation industry, Federal agencies that employ unmanned aircraft systems technology in the national airspace system, and the unmanned aircraft systems industry, shall develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

“(2) CONTENTS OF PLAN.—The plan required under paragraph (1) shall contain, at a minimum, recommendations or projections on—

“(A) the rulemaking to be conducted under subsection (b), with specific recommendations on how the rulemaking will—

“(i) define the acceptable standards for operation and certification of civil unmanned aircraft systems;

“(ii) ensure that any civil unmanned aircraft system includes a sense-and-avoid capability; and

“(iii) establish standards and requirements for the operator and pilot of a civil unmanned aircraft system, including standards and requirements for registration and licensing;

“(B) the best methods to enhance the technologies and subsystems necessary to achieve the safe and routine operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;

“(C) a phased-in approach to the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system;

“(D) a timeline for the phased-in approach described under subparagraph (C);

“(E) creation of a safe airspace designation for cooperative manned and unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system;

“(F) establishment of a process to develop certification, flight standards, and air traffic requirements for civil unmanned aircraft systems at test ranges where such systems are subject to testing;

“(G) the best methods to ensure the safe operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems and public unmanned aircraft systems simultaneously in the national airspace system; and

“(H) incorporation of the plan into the annual NextGen Implementation Plan document (or any successor document) of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“(3) DEADLINE.—The plan required under paragraph (1) shall provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.

“(4) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—Not later than February 14, 2013, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a copy of the plan required under paragraph (1).

“(5) ROADMAP.—Not later than February 14, 2013, the Secretary shall approve and make available in print and on the Administration’s internet website a 5-year roadmap for the introduction of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, as coordinated by the Unmanned Aircraft Program Office of the Administration. The Secretary shall update, in coordination with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and relevant stakeholders, including those in industry and academia, the roadmap annually. The roadmap shall include, at a minimum—

“(A) cost estimates, planned schedules, and performance benchmarks, including specific tasks, milestones, and timelines, for unmanned aircraft systems integration into the national airspace system, including an identification of—

“(i) the role of the unmanned aircraft systems test ranges established under subsection (c) and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence;

“(ii) performance objectives for unmanned aircraft systems that operate in the national airspace system; and

“(iii) research and development priorities for tools that could assist air traffic controllers as unmanned aircraft systems are integrated into the national airspace system, as appropriate;

“(B) a description of how the Administration plans to use research and development, including research and development conducted through NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management initiatives, to accommodate, integrate, and provide for the evolution of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system;

“(C) an assessment of critical performance abilities necessary to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, and how these performance abilities can be demonstrated; and

“(D) an update on the advancement of technologies needed to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, including decisionmaking by adaptive systems, such as sense-and-avoid capabilities and cyber physical systems security.

“(b) Rulemaking.—Not later than 18 months after the date on which the plan required under subsection (a)(1) is submitted to Congress under subsection (a)(4), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register—

“(1) a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems that will allow for civil operation of such systems in the national airspace system, to the extent the systems do not meet the requirements for expedited operational authorization under section 45508;

“(2) a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement the recommendations of the plan required under subsection (a)(1), with the final rule to be published not later than 16 months after the date of publication of the notice; and

“(3) an update to the Administration’s most recent policy statement on unmanned aircraft systems, contained in Docket No. FAA–2006–25714.

“(c) Expanding Use Of Unmanned Aircraft Systems In Arctic.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than August 12, 2012, the Secretary shall develop a plan and initiate a process to work with relevant Federal agencies and national and international communities to designate permanent areas in the Arctic where small unmanned aircraft may operate 24 hours per day for research and commercial purposes. The plan for operations in these permanent areas shall include the development of processes to facilitate the safe operation of unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight. Such areas shall enable over-water flights from the surface to at least 2,000 feet in altitude, with ingress and egress routes from selected coastal launch sites.

“(2) AGREEMENTS.—To implement the plan under paragraph (1), the Secretary may enter into an agreement with relevant national and international communities.

“(3) AIRCRAFT APPROVAL.—Not later than 1 year after the entry into force of an agreement necessary to effectuate the purposes of this subsection, the Secretary shall work with relevant national and international communities to establish and implement a process, or may apply an applicable process already established, for approving the use of unmanned aircraft in the designated permanent areas in the Arctic without regard to whether an unmanned aircraft is used as a public aircraft, a civil aircraft, or a model aircraft.

 

§ 45503. Risk-based permitting of unmanned aircraft systems

“(a) In General.—Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall establish procedures for issuing permits under this section with respect to certain unmanned aircraft systems and operations thereof.

“(b) Permitting Standards.—Upon the submission of an application in accordance with subsection (d), the Administrator shall issue a permit with respect to the proposed operation of an unmanned aircraft system if the Administrator determines that the unmanned aircraft system and the proposed operation achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to—

“(1) other unmanned aircraft systems and operations permitted under regulation, exemption, or other authority granted by the Administrator; or

“(2) any other aircraft operation approved by the Administrator with similar risk characteristics or profiles.

“(c) Safety Criteria For Consideration.—In determining whether a proposed operation meets the standards described in subsection (b), the Administrator shall consider the following safety criteria:

“(1) The kinetic energy of the unmanned aircraft system.

“(2) The location of the proposed operation, including the proximity to—

“(A) structures;

“(B) congested areas;

“(C) special-use airspace; and

“(D) persons on the ground.

“(3) The nature of the operation, including any proposed risk mitigation.

“(4) Any known hazard of the proposed operation and the severity and likelihood of such hazard.

“(5) Any known failure modes of the unmanned aircraft system, failure mode effects and criticality, and any mitigating features or capabilities.

“(6) The operational history of relevant technologies, if available.

“(7) Any history of civil penalties or certificate actions by the Administrator against the applicant seeking the permit.

“(8) Any other safety criteria the Administrator considers appropriate.

“(d) Application.—An application under this section shall include evidence that the unmanned aircraft system and the proposed operation thereof meet the standards described in subsection (b) based on the criteria described in subsection (c).

“(e) Scope Of Permit.—A permit issued under this section shall—

“(1) be valid for 5 years;

“(2) constitute approval of both the airworthiness of the unmanned aircraft system and the proposed operation of such system;

“(3) be renewable for additional 5-year periods; and

“(4) contain any terms necessary to ensure aviation safety.

“(f) Notice.—Not later than 120 days after the Administrator receives a complete application under subsection (d), the Administrator shall provide the applicant written notice of a decision to approve or disapprove of the application or to request a modification of the application that is necessary for approval of the application.

“(g) Permitting Process.—The Administrator shall issue a permit under this section without regard to subsections (b) through (d) of section 553 of title 5 and chapter 35 of title 44 if the Administrator determines that the operation permitted will not occur near a congested area.

“(h) Exemption From Certain Requirements.—To the extent consistent with aviation safety, the Administrator may exempt applicants under this section from paragraphs (1) through (3) of section 44711(a).

“(i) Withdrawal.—The Administrator may, at any time, modify or withdraw a permit issued under this section.

“(j) Applicability.—This section shall not apply to small unmanned aircraft systems and operations authorized by the final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems issued pursuant to section 45502(b)(1).

“(k) Expedited Review.—The Administrator shall review and act upon applications under this section on an expedited basis for unmanned aircraft systems and operations thereof to be used primarily in, or primarily in direct support of, emergency preparedness, emergency response, or disaster recovery efforts, including efforts in connection with natural disasters and severe weather events.

 

§ 45504. Public unmanned aircraft systems

“(a) Guidance.—Not later than November 10, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue guidance regarding the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems to—

“(1) expedite the issuance of a certificate of authorization process;

“(2) provide for a collaborative process with public agencies to allow for an incremental expansion of access to the national airspace system as technology matures and the necessary safety analysis and data become available, and until standards are completed and technology issues are resolved;

“(3) facilitate the capability of public agencies to develop and use test ranges, subject to operating restrictions required by the Federal Aviation Administration, to test and operate unmanned aircraft systems; and

“(4) provide guidance on a public entity’s responsibility when operating an unmanned aircraft without a civil airworthiness certificate issued by the Administration.

“(b) Standards For Operation And Certification.—Not later than December 31, 2015, the Administrator shall develop and implement operational and certification requirements for the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system.

“(c) Agreements With Government Agencies.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than May 14, 2012, the Secretary shall enter into agreements with appropriate government agencies to simplify the process for issuing certificates of waiver or authorization with respect to applications seeking authorization to operate public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system.

“(2) CONTENTS.—The agreements shall—

“(A) with respect to an application described in paragraph (1)—

“(i) provide for an expedited review of the application;

“(ii) require a decision by the Administrator on approval or disapproval within 60 business days of the date of submission of the application; and

“(iii) allow for an expedited appeal if the application is disapproved;

“(B) allow for a one-time approval of similar operations carried out during a fixed period of time; and

“(C) allow a government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less, if operated—

“(i) within the line of sight of the operator;

“(ii) less than 400 feet above the ground;

“(iii) during daylight conditions;

“(iv) within Class G airspace; and

“(v) outside of 5 statute miles from any airport, heliport, seaplane base, spaceport, or other location with aviation activities.

 

§ 45505. Special rules for certain unmanned aircraft systems

“(a) In General.—Notwithstanding any other requirement of this subtitle, and not later than August 12, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation shall determine if certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system before completion of the plan and rulemaking required by section 45502 or the guidance required under section 45504.

“(b) Assessment Of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.—In making the determination under subsection (a), the Secretary shall determine, at a minimum—

“(1) which types of unmanned aircraft systems, if any, as a result of their size, weight, speed, operational capability, proximity to airports and populated areas, and operation within visual line of sight do not create a hazard to users of the national airspace system or the public or pose a threat to national security; and

“(2) whether a certificate of waiver, certificate of authorization, or airworthiness certification under section 44704 is required for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems identified under paragraph (1).

“(c) Requirements For Safe Operation.—If the Secretary determines under this section that certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system, the Secretary shall establish requirements for the safe operation of such aircraft systems in the national airspace system.

 

§ 45506. Certification of new air navigation facilities for unmanned aircraft and other aircraft

“(a) In General.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this section, and notwithstanding section 2208 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note), the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall initiate a rulemaking to establish procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates pursuant to section 44702 to operators of—

“(1) UTM for unmanned aircraft operations that occur primarily or exclusively in airspace 400 feet above ground level and below; and

“(2) low-altitude CNS for aircraft operations that occur primarily or exclusively in airspace 400 feet above ground level and below.

“(b) Minimum Requirements.—In issuing a final rule pursuant to subsection (a), the Administrator, at a minimum, shall provide for the following:

“(1) CERTIFICATION STANDARDS.—The Administrator shall issue an air navigation facility certificate under the final rule if the Administrator determines that a UTM or low-altitude CNS facilitates or improves the safety of unmanned aircraft or other aircraft operations that occur primarily or exclusively in airspace 400 feet above ground level and below, including operations conducted under a waiver issued pursuant to subpart D of part 107 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations.

“(2) CRITERIA FOR CONSIDERATION.—In determining whether a UTM or low-altitude CNS meets the standard described in paragraph (1), the Administrator shall, as appropriate, consider—

“(A) protection of persons and property on the ground;

“(B) remote identification of aircraft;

“(C) collision avoidance with respect to obstacles and aircraft;

“(D) deconfliction of aircraft trajectories;

“(E) safe and reliable interoperability or noninterference with air traffic control and other systems operated in the national airspace system;

“(F) detection of noncooperative aircraft;

“(G) geographic and local factors;

“(H) aircraft equipage; and

“(I) qualifications, if any, necessary to operate the UTM or low-altitude CNS.

“(3) APPLICATION.—An application for an air navigation facility certificate under the final rule shall include evidence that the UTM or low-altitude CNS meets the standard described in paragraph (1) based on the criteria described in paragraph (2).

“(4) SCOPE OF CERTIFICATE.—The Administrator shall ensure that an air navigation facility certificate issued under the final rule—

“(A) constitutes approval of the UTM or low-altitude CNS for the duration of the term of the certificate;

“(B) constitutes authorization to operate the UTM or low-altitude CNS for the duration of the term of the certificate; and

“(C) contains such limitations and conditions as may be necessary to ensure aviation safety.

“(5) NOTICE.—Not later than 120 days after the Administrator receives a complete application under the final rule, the Administrator shall provide the applicant with a written approval, disapproval, or request to modify the application.

“(6) LOW RISK AREAS.—Under the final rule, the Administrator shall establish expedited procedures for approval of UTM or low-altitude CNS operated in—

“(A) airspace away from congested areas; or

“(B) other airspace above areas in which operations of unmanned aircraft pose very low risk.

“(7) EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS.—To the extent consistent with aviation safety, the Administrator may exempt applicants under the final rule from requirements under sections 44702, 44703, and 44711.

“(8) CERTIFICATE MODIFICATIONS AND REVOCATIONS.—A certificate issued under the final rule may, at any time, be modified or revoked by the Administrator.

“(c) Consultation.—In carrying out this section, the Administrator shall consult with other Federal agencies, as appropriate.

 

§ 45507. Special rules for certain UTM and low-altitude CNS

“(a) In General.—Notwithstanding any other requirement of this chapter, and not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall determine if certain UTM and low-altitude CNS may operate safely in the national airspace system before completion of the rulemaking required by section 45506.

“(b) Assessment Of UTM And Low-Altitude CNS.—In making the determination under subsection (a), the Secretary shall determine, at a minimum, which types of UTM and low-altitude CNS, if any, as a result of their operational capabilities, reliability, intended use, and areas of operation, and the characteristics of the aircraft involved, do not create a hazard to users of the national airspace system or the public.

“(c) Requirements For Safe Operation.—If the Secretary determines that certain UTM and low-altitude CNS may operate safely in the national airspace system, the Secretary shall establish requirements for their safe operation in the national airspace system.

“(d) Expedited Procedures.—The Secretary shall provide expedited procedures for reviewing and approving UTM or low-altitude CNS operated to monitor or control aircraft operated primarily or exclusively in airspace above—

“(1) croplands;

“(2) areas other than congested areas; and

“(3) other areas in which the operation of unmanned aircraft poses very low risk.

“(e) Consultation.—In carrying out this section, the Administrator shall consult with other Federal agencies, as appropriate.

 

§ 45508. Operation of small unmanned aircraft

“(a) Exemption And Certificate Of Waiver Or Authorization For Certain Operations.—Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall establish a procedure for granting an exemption and issuing a certificate of waiver or authorization for the operation of a small unmanned aircraft system in United States airspace for the purposes described in section 45501(1).

“(b) Operation Of Exemption And Certificate Of Waiver Or Authorization.—

“(1) EXEMPTION.—An exemption granted under this section shall—

“(A) exempt the operator of a small unmanned aircraft from the provisions of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, that are exempted in Exemption No. 11687, issued on May 26, 2015, Regulatory Docket Number FAA–2015–0117, or in a subsequent exemption; and

“(B) contain conditions and limitations described in paragraphs 3 through 31 of such Exemption No. 11687, or conditions and limitations of a subsequent exemption.

“(2) CERTIFICATE OF WAIVER OR AUTHORIZATION.—A certificate of waiver or authorization issued under this section shall allow the operation of small unmanned aircraft according to—

“(A) the standard provisions and air traffic control special provisions of the certificate of waiver or authorization FAA Form 7711–1 (7–74); or

“(B) the standard and special provisions of a subsequent certificate of waiver or authorization.

“(c) Notice To Administrator.—Before operating a small unmanned aircraft pursuant to a certificate of waiver or authorization granted under this section, the operator shall provide written notice to the Administrator, in a form and manner specified by the Administrator, that contains such information and assurances as the Administrator determines necessary in the interest of aviation safety and the efficiency of the national airspace system, including a certification that the operator has read, understands, and will comply with all terms, conditions, and limitations of the certificate of waiver or authorization.

“(d) Waiver Of Airworthiness Certificate.—Notwithstanding section 44711(a)(1), the holder of a certificate of waiver or authorization granted under this section may operate a small unmanned aircraft under the terms, conditions, and limitations of such certificate without an airworthiness certificate.

“(e) Procedure.—The granting of an exemption or the issuance of a certificate of waiver or authorization, or any other action authorized by this section, shall be made without regard to—

“(1) section 553 of title 5; or

“(2) chapter 35 of title 44.

“(f) Statutory Construction.—Nothing in this section may be construed to—

“(1) affect the issuance of a rule by or any other activity of the Secretary of Transportation or the Administrator under any other provision of law; or

“(2) invalidate an exemption or certificate of waiver or authorization issued by the Administrator before the date of enactment of this section.

“(g) Effective Periods.—An exemption or certificate of waiver or authorization issued under this section, or an amendment of such exemption or certificate, shall cease to be valid on the effective date of a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems issued under section 45502(b)(1).

 

§ 45509. Special rules for model aircraft

“(a) In General.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft (other than the registration of certain model aircraft pursuant to section 44103), if—

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

“(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a community-based organization;

“(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;

“(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft;

“(5) the aircraft is not operated over or within the property of a fixed site facility that operates amusement rides available for use by the general public or the property extending 500 lateral feet beyond the perimeter of such facility unless the operation is authorized by the owner of the amusement facility; and

“(6) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish 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)).

“(b) Commercial Operation For Instructional Or Educational Purposes.—A flight of an unmanned aircraft shall be treated as a flight of a model aircraft for purposes of subsection (a) (regardless of any compensation, reimbursement, or other consideration exchanged or incidental economic benefit gained in the course of planning, operating, or supervising the flight), if the flight is—

“(1) conducted for instructional or educational purposes; and

“(2) operated or supervised by a member of a community-based organization recognized pursuant to subsection (e).

“(c) Statutory Construction.—Nothing in this section may be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.

“(d) Community-Based Organization Defined.—In this section, the term ‘community-based organization’ means an entity that—

“(1) is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

“(2) is exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

“(3) the mission of which is demonstrably the furtherance of model aviation;

“(4) provides a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for all aspects of model aviation addressing the assembly and operation of model aircraft and that emphasize safe aeromodeling operations within the national airspace system and the protection and safety of individuals and property on the ground;

“(5) provides programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs; and

“(6) provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.

“(e) Recognition Of Community-Based Organizations.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator shall establish, and make available to the public, a process for recognizing community-based organizations that meet the eligibility criteria under subsection (d).

 

§ 45510. Carriage of property for compensation or hire

“(a) In General.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue a final rule authorizing the carriage of property by operators of small unmanned aircraft systems for compensation or hire within the United States.

“(b) Contents.—The final rule required under subsection (a) shall provide for the following:

“(1) SMALL UAS AIR CARRIER CERTIFICATE.—The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, at the direction of the Secretary, shall establish a small UAS air carrier certificate for persons that undertake directly, or by lease or other arrangement, the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems to carry property in air transportation, including commercial fleet operations with highly automated unmanned aircraft systems. The requirements to obtain a small UAS air carrier certificate shall—

“(A) account for the unique characteristics of highly automated small unmanned aircraft systems; and

“(B) include only those obligations necessary for the safe operation of small unmanned aircraft systems.

“(2) SMALL UAS AIR CARRIER CERTIFICATION PROCESS.—The Administrator, at the direction of the Secretary, shall establish a process for the issuance of a small UAS air carrier certificate described in paragraph (1) that is streamlined, simple, performance-based, and risk-based. Such certification process shall consider—

“(A) safety and the mitigation of operational risks from highly automated small unmanned aircraft systems to the safety of other aircraft, and persons and property on the ground;

“(B) the safety and reliability of highly automated small unmanned aircraft system design, including technological capabilities and operational limitations to mitigate such risks; and

“(C) the competencies and compliance programs of manufacturers, operators, and companies that both manufacture and operate small unmanned aircraft systems and components.

“(3) SMALL UAS AIR CARRIER CLASSIFICATION.—The Secretary shall develop a classification system for small unmanned aircraft systems air carriers to establish economic authority for the carriage of property by small unmanned aircraft systems for compensation or hire. Such classification shall only require—

“(A) registration with the Department of Transportation; and

“(B) a valid small UAS air carrier certificate as described in paragraph (1).

 

§ 45511. Micro UAS operations

“(a) In General.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall charter an aviation rulemaking advisory committee to develop recommendations for regulations under which any person may operate a micro unmanned aircraft system, the aircraft component of which weighs 4.4 pounds or less, including payload, without the person operating the system being required to pass any airman certification requirement, including any requirements under section 44703, part 61 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, or any other rule or regulation relating to airman certification.

“(b) Considerations.—In developing recommendations for the operation of micro unmanned aircraft systems under subsection (a), the members of the aviation rulemaking advisory committee shall consider rules for operation of such systems—

“(1) at an altitude of less than 400 feet above ground level;

“(2) with an airspeed of not greater than 40 knots;

“(3) within the visual line of sight of the operator;

“(4) during the hours between sunrise and sunset;

“(5) by an operator who has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test administered by the Federal Aviation Administration online specifically for the operation of micro unmanned aircraft systems, with such test being of a length and difficulty that acknowledges the reduced operational complexity and low risk of micro unmanned aircraft systems;

“(6) not over unprotected persons uninvolved in its operation; and

“(7) at least 5 statute miles from the geographic center of a tower-controlled airport or airport denoted on a current Federal Aviation Administration-published aeronautical chart, except that a micro unmanned aircraft system may be operated closer than 5 statute miles to the airport if the operator—

“(A) provides prior notice to the airport operator; and

“(B) receives, for a tower-controlled airport, prior approval from the air traffic control facility located at the airport.

“(c) Consultation.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—In developing recommendations for recommended regulations under subsection (a), the aviation rulemaking advisory committee shall consult with—

“(A) unmanned aircraft systems stakeholders, including manufacturers of micro unmanned aircraft systems;

“(B) community-based aviation organizations;

“(C) the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems; and

“(D) appropriate Federal agencies.

“(2) FACA.—The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to an aviation rulemaking advisory committee chartered under this section.

“(d) Rulemaking.—Not later than 180 days after the date of receipt of the recommendations under subsection (a), the Administrator shall issue regulations incorporating recommendations of the aviation rulemaking advisory committee that provide for the operation of micro unmanned aircraft systems in the United States—

“(1) without an airman certificate; and

“(2) without an airworthiness certificate for the associated unmanned aircraft.

“(e) Scope Of Regulations.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—In determining whether a person may operate an unmanned aircraft system under 1 or more of the circumstances described under paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (b), the Administrator shall use a risk-based approach and consider, at a minimum, the physical and functional characteristics of the unmanned aircraft system.

“(2) LIMITATION.—The Administrator may only issue regulations under this section for unmanned aircraft systems that the Administrator determines may be operated safely in the national airspace system pursuant to those regulations.

“(f) Rules Of Construction.—Nothing in this section may be construed—

“(1) to prohibit a person from operating an unmanned aircraft system under a circumstance described under paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (b) if—

“(A) the circumstance is allowed by regulations issued under this section; and

“(B) the person operates the unmanned aircraft system in a manner prescribed by the regulations; or

“(2) to limit or affect in any way the Administrator’s authority to conduct a rulemaking, make a determination, or carry out any activity related to unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft systems under any other provision of law.”.

 

(b) Conforming Amendments.—

(1) REPEALS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Sections 332(a), 332(b), 332(d), 333, 334, and 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) are repealed.

(B) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The items relating to sections 333, 334, and 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) in the table of contents contained in section 1(b) of that Act are repealed.

(2) PENALTIES.—Section 46301 of title 49, United States Code, is amended—

(A) in subsection (a)—

(i) in paragraph (1)(A) by inserting “chapter 455,” after “chapter 451,”; and

(ii) in paragraph (5)(A)(i) by striking “or chapter 451,” and inserting “chapter 451, chapter 455,”;

(B) in subsection (d)(2) by inserting “chapter 455,” after “chapter 451,”; and

(C) in subsection (f)(1)(A)(i) by striking “or chapter 451” and inserting “chapter 451, or chapter 455”.

(3) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The analysis for subtitle VII of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 453 the following:

“455. Unmanned aircraft systems …………………………………………………
45501”.

SEC. 333. UNMANNED AIRCRAFT TEST RANGES.

(a) Extension Of Program.—Section 332(c)(1) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended by striking “September 30, 2019” and inserting “the date that is 6 years after the date of enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018”.

(b) Sense-And-Avoid And Beyond Line Of Sight Systems At Test Ranges.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—To the extent consistent with aviation safety, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall permit and encourage flights of unmanned aircraft equipped with sense-and-avoid and beyond line of sight systems at the 6 test ranges designated under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

(2) WAIVERS.—In carrying out paragraph (1), the Administrator may waive the requirements of section 44711 of title 49, United States Code, including related regulations, to the extent consistent with aviation safety.

(c) Test Range Defined.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—In this section, the term “test range” means a defined geographic area where research and development are conducted as authorized by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

(2) INCLUSIONS.—Such term includes any of the 6 test ranges established by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration under section 332(c) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this subsection, and any public entity authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration as an unmanned aircraft system flight test center before January 1, 2009.

 

SEC. 334. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SAFETY.

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the unauthorized operation of unmanned aircraft near airports presents a serious hazard to aviation safety;

(2) a collision between an unmanned aircraft and a conventional aircraft in flight could jeopardize the safety of persons aboard the aircraft and on the ground;

(3) Federal aviation regulations, including sections 91.126 through 91.131 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit unauthorized operation of an aircraft in controlled airspace near an airport;

(4) Federal aviation regulations, including section 91.13 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit the operation of an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another;

(5) the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration should pursue all available civil and administrative remedies available to the Administrator, including referrals to other government agencies for criminal investigations, with respect to persons who operate unmanned aircraft in an unauthorized manner;

(6) the Administrator should place particular priority on continuing measures, including partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, to educate the public about the dangers to the public safety of operating unmanned aircraft near airports without the appropriate approvals or authorizations; and

(7) manufacturers and retail sellers of small unmanned aircraft systems should take steps to educate consumers about the safe and lawful operation of such systems.

 

SEC. 335. UAS PRIVACY REVIEW.

(a) Review.—The Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the heads of appropriate Federal agencies, appropriate State and local officials, and subject-matter experts and in consideration of relevant efforts led by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, shall carry out a review to identify any potential reduction of privacy specifically caused by the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

(b) Consultation.—In carrying out the review, the Secretary shall consult with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce on its ongoing efforts responsive to the Presidential memorandum titled “Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” and dated February 15, 2015.

(c) Report.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report on the results of the review required under subsection (a).

 

SEC. 336. PUBLIC UAS OPERATIONS BY TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS.

(a) Public UAS Operations By Tribal Governments.—Section 40102(a)(41) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(F) An unmanned aircraft that is owned and operated by, or exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by, an Indian Tribal government, as defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122), except as provided in section 40125(b).”.

(b) Conforming Amendment.—Section 40125(b) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking “or (D)” and inserting “(D), or (F)”.

 

SEC. 337. EVALUATION OF AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION FOR SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) Metrics.—Beginning not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall develop and track metrics to assess compliance with and effectiveness of the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems by the Federal Aviation Administration pursuant to the interim final rule issued on December 16, 2015, entitled “Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft” (80 Fed. Reg. 78593) and any subsequent final rule, including metrics with respect to—

(1) the levels of compliance with the interim final rule and any subsequent final rule;

(2) the number of enforcement actions taken by the Administration for violations of or noncompliance with the interim final rule and any subsequent final rule, together with a description of the actions; and

(3) the effect of the interim final rule and any subsequent final rule on compliance with any fees associated with the use of small unmanned aircraft systems.

(b) Evaluation.—The Inspector General of the Department of Transportation shall evaluate—

(1) the Administration’s progress in developing and tracking the metrics set forth in subsection (a); and

(2) the reliability, effectiveness, and efficiency of the Administration’s registration program for small unmanned aircraft.

(c) Report.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report containing—

(1) the results of the evaluation required under subsection (b); and

(2) recommendations to the Administrator and Congress for improvements to the registration process for small unmanned aircraft.

 

SEC. 338. STUDY ON ROLES OF GOVERNMENTS RELATING TO LOW-ALTITUDE OPERATION OF SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(a) In General.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation shall initiate a study on—

(1) the regulation and oversight of the low-altitude operations of small unmanned aircraft and small unmanned aircraft systems; and

(2) the appropriate roles and responsibilities of Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments in regulating and overseeing the operations of small unmanned aircraft in airspace 400 feet above ground level and below.

(b) Considerations.—In carrying out the study, the Inspector General shall consider, at a minimum—

(1) the recommendations of Task Group 1 of the Drone Advisory Committee chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration on August 31, 2016;

(2) the legal and policy requirements necessary for the safe and financially viable development and growth of the unmanned aircraft industry;

(3) the interests of Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments affected by low-altitude operations of small unmanned aircraft;

(4) the existing authorities of Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments to protect the interests referenced in paragraph (3);

(5) the degree of regulatory consistency required for the safe and financially viable growth and development of the unmanned aircraft industry;

(6) the degree of local variance possible among regulations consistent with the safe and financially viable growth and development of the unmanned aircraft industry;

(7) the appropriate roles of State, local, and Tribal governments in regulating the operations of small unmanned aircraft within the lateral boundaries of their jurisdiction in the categories of airspace described in subsection (a)(2);

(8) the subjects and types of regulatory authority that should remain with the Federal Government;

(9) the infrastructure requirements necessary for monitoring the low-altitude operations of small unmanned aircraft and enforcing applicable laws;

(10) the number of small businesses involved in the various sectors of the unmanned aircraft industry and operating as primary users of small unmanned aircraft; and

(11) any best practices, lessons learned, or policies of jurisdictions outside the United States relating to local or regional regulation and oversight of small unmanned aircraft and other emergent technologies.

(c) Report To Congress.—Not later than 180 days after initiating the study, the Inspector General shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report on the results of the study.

 

SEC. 339. STUDY ON FINANCING OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SERVICES.

(a) In General.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall initiate a study on appropriate fee mechanisms to recover the costs of—

(1) the regulation and safety oversight of unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems; and

(2) the provision of air navigation services to unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems.

(b) Considerations.—In carrying out the study, the Comptroller General shall consider, at a minimum—

(1) the recommendations of Task Group 3 of the Drone Advisory Committee chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration on August 31, 2016;

(2) the total annual costs incurred by the Federal Aviation Administration for the regulation and safety oversight of activities related to unmanned aircraft;

(3) the annual costs attributable to various types, classes, and categories of unmanned aircraft activities;

(4) air traffic services provided to unmanned aircraft operating under instrument flight rules, excluding public aircraft;

(5) the number of full-time Federal Aviation Administration employees dedicated to unmanned aircraft programs;

(6) the use of privately operated UTM and other privately operated unmanned aircraft systems;

(7) the projected growth of unmanned aircraft operations for various applications and the estimated need for regulation, oversight, and other services;

(8) the number of small businesses involved in the various sectors of the unmanned aircraft industry and operating as primary users of unmanned aircraft; and

(9) any best practices or policies utilized by jurisdictions outside the United States relating to partial or total recovery of regulation and safety oversight costs related to unmanned aircraft and other emergent technologies.

(c) Report To Congress.—Not later than 180 days after initiating the study, the Comptroller General shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report containing recommendations on appropriate fee mechanisms to recover the costs of regulating and providing air navigation services to unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems.

 

SEC. 340. UPDATE OF FAA COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.

(a) In General.—Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall update the comprehensive plan developed pursuant to section 332 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) to develop a concept of operations for the integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system.

(b) Considerations.—In carrying out the update, the Secretary shall consider, at a minimum—

(1) the potential use of UTM and other technologies to ensure the safe and lawful operation of unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system;

(2) the appropriate roles, responsibilities, and authorities of government agencies and the private sector in identifying and reporting unlawful or harmful operations and operators of unmanned aircraft;

(3) the use of models, threat assessments, probabilities, and other methods to distinguish between lawful and unlawful operations of unmanned aircraft; and

(4) appropriate systems, training, intergovernmental processes, protocols, and procedures to mitigate risks and hazards posed by unlawful or harmful operations of unmanned aircraft systems.

(c) Consultation.—The Secretary shall carry out the update in consultation with representatives of the aviation industry, Federal agencies that employ unmanned aircraft systems technology in the national airspace system, and the unmanned aircraft systems industry.

 

SEC. 341. COOPERATION RELATED TO CERTAIN COUNTER-UAS TECHNOLOGY.

In matters relating to the use of systems in the national airspace system intended to mitigate threats posed by errant or hostile unmanned aircraft system operations, the Secretary of Transportation shall consult with the Secretary of Defense to streamline deployment of such systems by drawing upon the expertise and experience of the Department of Defense in acquiring and operating such systems consistent with the safe and efficient operation of the national airspace system..

 

………

SEC. 532. PART 107 IMPLEMENTATION IMPROVEMENTS.

(a) In General.—Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall publish a direct final rule—

(1) revising section 107.205 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, by striking the second sentence of subsections (a) and (c); and

(2) revising section 107.25 of such title by striking “and is not transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire”.

(b) Determination Of Waiver.—In determining whether to grant a waiver under part 107 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to authorize transportation of another’s property for compensation or hire beyond the visual line of sight of the remote pilot, from a moving vehicle, or over people, the Administrator shall consider the technological capabilities of the unmanned aircraft system, the qualifications of the remote pilot, and the operational environment.

 

SEC. 533. PART 107 TRANSPARENCY AND TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS.

(a) Transparency.—Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall publish on the Federal Aviation Administration website a representative sample of the safety justifications, offered by applicants for small unmanned aircraft system waivers and airspace authorizations, that have been approved by the Administration for each regulation waived or class of airspace authorized, except that any published justification shall not reveal proprietary or commercially sensitive information.

(b) Technology Improvements.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall revise the online waiver and certificates of authorization processes—

(1) to provide real time confirmation that an application filed online has been received by the Administration; and

(2) to provide an applicant with an opportunity to review the status of the applicant’s application.

………

Subtitle C—Unmanned Aircraft Systems

SEC. 721. UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ROADMAP.

No funds are authorized to be appropriated for the Office of the Administrator for a fiscal year unless the Secretary has submitted the unmanned aircraft systems roadmap to Congress on an annual basis as required under section 45502(a) of title 49, United States Code, (as added by this Act).

 

SEC. 722. PROBABILISTIC METRICS FOR EXEMPTIONS.

(a) Study.—Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall commission an independent study to—

(1) develop parameters to conduct research and development for probabilistic metrics to enable the identification of hazards and the assessment of risks as necessary to make determinations under section 45505(a) of title 49, United States Code, (as added by this Act) that certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system;

(2) identify additional research needed to more effectively develop and use such metrics and make such determinations; and

(3) in developing parameters for probabilistic metrics, this study shall take into account the utility of performance standards to make determinations under section 45505(a) of title 49, United States Code, (as added by this Act).

(b) Consideration Of Results.—The Administrator shall consider the results of the study conducted under subsection (a) when making a determination described in subsection (a)(1).

(c) Report.—Not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall transmit the results of the study conducted under subsection (a) to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate.

 

SEC. 723. PROBABILISTIC ASSESSMENT OF RISKS.

The Administrator shall conduct research and development to enable a probabilistic assessment of risks to inform requirements for standards for operational certification of public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace.

 

SEC. 724. UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE-MANNED AIRCRAFT COLLISION RESEARCH.

(a) Research.—The Administrator shall coordinate with NASA to conduct comprehensive testing of unmanned aerial vehicles colliding with a manned aircraft, including—

(1) collisions between unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes, traveling at various speeds, and commercial jet airliners of various sizes, traveling at various speeds;

(2) collisions between unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes, traveling at various speeds, and propeller planes of various sizes, traveling at various speeds;

(3) collisions between unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes, traveling at various speeds, and blimps of various sizes, traveling at various speeds;

(4) collisions between unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes, traveling at various speeds, and rotorcraft of various sizes, traveling at various speeds; and

(5) collisions between unmanned aerial vehicles and various parts of the aforementioned aircraft, including—

(A) windshields;

(B) noses;

(C) engines;

(D) radomes;

(E) propellers; and

(F) wings.

(b) Report.—Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall transmit a report summarizing the costs and results of research under this section to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate.

 

SEC. 725. SPECIAL RULE FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT.

Except as necessary to support enforcement action under applicable provisions of law against persons operating unmanned aircraft in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system, notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into FAA plans and policies, the Administrator may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding the operation of an unmanned aircraft system—

(1) that is flown strictly for research and development use;

(2) that is operated less than 400 feet above the ground and in Class G airspace;

(3) that is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and

(4) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (unmanned aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish 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)).

 

SEC. 726. BEYOND LINE-OF-SIGHT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT.

(a) Amendments.—Section 332(c)(2) the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—

(1) by striking “Administrator shall” and inserting “Administrator”;

(2) at the beginning of each of subparagraphs (A) through (F), by inserting “shall”;

(3) at the end of subparagraph (E), by striking “and”;

(4) at the end of subparagraph (F), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and

(5) by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:

“(G) shall allow beyond line-of-sight operation of unmanned aircraft systems to be flown within the boundaries of a test range established under this subsection;

“(H) may promulgate regulations governing beyond line-of-sight operation of unmanned aircraft systems flown within the boundaries of a test range established under this subsection for the purposes of public safety; and

“(I) shall allow NASA to authorize operation of beyond line-of-sight unmanned aircraft systems within the boundaries of any NASA center or facility.”.

(b) Statutory Construction.—Nothing in the amendments made by subsection (a) shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action under applicable provisions of law against persons operating unmanned aircraft in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.

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SEC. 745. ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT.

The Administrator shall develop a program to research the use of spectrum in the civil aviation domain, including aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems. This research shall, at a minimum, address—

(1) how, operating within an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management system, unmanned aircraft systems can safely use, for control link, tracking, diagnostics, payload communication, collaborative-collision avoidance (e.g. vehicle-to-vehicle communications), and other purposes—

(A) aviation-protected spectrum;

(B) commercial communications networks, such as mobile communications networks; and

(C) any other licensed or unlicensed spectrum;

(2) how the reallocation of spectrum assigned for use within frequency bands adjacent to those allocated for position, navigation, and timing may impact the safety of civil aviation; and

(3) measures to protect and mitigate against spectrum interference in frequency bands used by the civil aviation community to ensure public safety.