FAA Releases New Rules for Quadcopters

 

The FAA has released proposed guidelines for the commercial use of ‘drones’ or quadcopters that weigh 55 lbs or less. NOTE this is for commercial use of a quadcopter.  Here are highlights clipped from the press release:

Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and get an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months. A small UAS operator would not need any further private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot license or medical rating).

The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:

A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.
The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.
A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.
Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.
Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).

The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS.
Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. For example, an operator would have to perform a preflight inspection that includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with FAA-certificated components also could be subject to agency airworthiness directives.

The new rules would not apply to model aircraft. However, model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.

I’m still think that using a First Person Viewer (FPV) provides more safety features than line of sight control. The more data you can get access to, the safer your flight. As for preflight inspections, I’ve been ahead of the FAA in this matter. Prior to flying my quadcopter, I created a preflight checklist to make sure I follow start-up procedures to the letter. Also, I collect wind speed, time of flight, sky conditions and any flight issues I may meet. This checklist is a good tool for every quadcopter enthusiast who are serious about safety.

Your thoughts on the proposed FAA regulations on the commercial use of ‘drones’?  Personally, I hate calling them drones.

 

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