This chapter provides guidance regarding sUAS operating limitations and the responsibilities of the remote pilot in command (PIC), person manipulating the controls, visual observer (VO), and anyone else that may be directly participating in the sUAS operation. A person is also a direct participant in the sUAS operation if his or her involvement is necessary for the safe operation of the sUAS.
One individual said proposed § 107.11 should be amended to indicate that public agencies may choose to voluntarily operate under part 107. The City of Arlington, Texas requested the ability to follow the small UAS rules, not the COA process. Aerial Services, Inc. also said that public entities should be allowed to operate like commercial operators, but only for research and instructional purposes.
Under this rule, a public aircraft operation can continue to operate under a COA or can voluntarily operate as a civil aircraft in compliance with part 107. As stated in the NPRM, this rule will not apply to public aircraft operations of small UAS that are not operated as civil aircraft. These operations must continue to comply with the FAA’s existing requirement to obtain a COA providing the public aircraft operation with a waiver from certain part 91 requirements such as the “see and avoid” requirement of § 91.113(b).
However, this rule will provide greater flexibility to public aircraft operations because it allows small UAS public aircraft operations to voluntarily opt into the part 107 framework. In other words, a remote pilot may elect to operate his or her small UAS as a civil rather than a public aircraft and comply with part 107 requirements instead of obtaining a COA. With regard to Nez Perce’s assertion that aircraft operated by federally recognized Indian tribes are public aircraft, that issue is beyond the scope of this rule.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recommended that the FAA modify the current limitation in § 107.11 concerning “civil” aircraft to include “public aircraft” as well. This is necessary, AUVSI asserted, because some current operation rules for manned aircraft (such as those found in part 91) apply to both “public aircraft” and “civil aircraft.”