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Friday, February 20, 2015

current FAA chat on drone use

The FAA stated that it has two primary safety concerns associated with small UAS operations: (1) the craft's ability to "see and avoid" other aircraft since no pilot is on board; and (2) the operator's possible loss of positive control of the small UAS. To mitigate these safety concerns, the FAA proposed to retain its existing requirement that small UAS operations be conducted within the visual line-of-sight ("VLOS") of the operator, meaning the operator's vision aided by no more than glasses or corrective lenses. (Technologies, such as "First Person View," which replicate the view from the craft on a handheld screen, do not qualify.) The FAA also proposed to restrict small UAS to daylight-only operation and speeds of less than 87 knots (100 mph), to limit the operating altitude of commercial small UAS to below 500 feet above ground level in conditions that ensure three‑mile visibility, and to prohibit operations over any person not directly participating in the operation. Unless these proposals, particularly the VLOS requirement, are modified in the comment and review period, they will effectively prohibit use of small UAS for delivery services.

The FAA did, however, also seek comment on possibly adopting a "micro" UAS classification for craft weighing fewer than 4.4 pounds. The FAA would allow these microcraft, given their smaller size, to be flown over individuals not directly involved in the operation. The FAA also sought comment on emerging technologies that might lessen the agency's concerns about eliminating the VLOS requirement, but the FAA reiterated its view that such technologies do not currently exist.