The FAA’s Proposed UAS “Drone” Laws are Available for Public Comment

Link to the complete set of proposed laws, and where you can comment:!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150-0017

Summary of proposed laws:

Operational Limitations • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
• Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.
• At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
• Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation.
• Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time).
• Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
• May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
• First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
• Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
• Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
• No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace.
• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
• No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
• No operations from a moving vehicle or aircraft, except from a watercraft on the water.
• No careless or reckless operations.
• Requires preflight inspection by the operator.
• A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
• Proposes a microUAS category that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, and would require airman to self-certify that they are familiar with the aeronautical knowledge testing areas.
Operator Certification and Responsibilities • Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”.
• Operators would be required to:
○ Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
○ Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
○ Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
○ Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
○ Be at least 17 years old.
○ Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
○ Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
○ Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
Aircraft Requirements • FAA airworthiness certification not required. However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft).
• Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.
Model Aircraft • Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
• The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.


I think the important parts are that this DOES open a practical and feasible avenue for people to operate a UAS (“drone” is a stupid, ominous name so everyone stop saying it!) commercially… something even I have seen could be a great boost to the US Economy, with many new creative job and career opportunities created.

I also think it’s VERY important, to anyone that flies *ANYTHING* else, that these proposed laws make certain things unmistakably clear.
1. UAS can only be operated via line-of-sight (you need to see the damn thing, can’t fly it miles away using ONLY a live video feed… although live video feed CAN still be used while flying LOS).
2. UAS must operate under 500 ft unless proper authorization is obtained (doesn’t prevent some bone head from taking out small or large aircraft, but it makes doing something likely to produce that result illegal… what more can you do?!)
3. Cleary defines that ALL UAS must yield right-of-way to all other manned and unmanned aircraft.  This includes hang gliders and paragliders!  Does this mean you’re any less likely to get hit by a bozo’s Christmas present?  NO.  But at least it clearly makes the Bozo in the wrong, legally.  Again, what more can be done?!)


All in all I find these proposed rules agreeable- both as someone who often occupies the NAS (National Airspace System), AND as someone who really enjoys aerial photography and is hopeful to pursue such commercially some day…

Well played Washington, well played… Now, when will these actually go into effect?!  AND… when will that FAA UAS Operator Exam be ready?!  Sign me up!