FAA’s Micro UAS Committee to Recommend Performance-Based Drone Rules

Posted by Betsy Lillian on February 24, 2016 No Comments

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is establishing a micro unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) aviation rulemaking committee tasked with developing recommendations for performance-based standards for the classification and operation of “certain” – rather than “micro” – UAS that can be operated safely over people.

Then, the group will identify how UAS manufacturers can comply with the requirements and will propose operational provisions based on these requirements. The FAA will draft a rulemaking proposal after reviewing the committee’s report.

In the aviation rulemaking committee charter, the agency says, “After reviewing comments [from the noticed of proposed rulemaking on commercial UAS], the FAA has decided not to proceed with a micro UAS classification in the sUAS Operation and Certification Part 107 Rule and has determined that further engagement with industry and stakeholders is needed before conducting rulemaking to address the regulatory framework for micro UAS.”

Michael Huerta, administrator of the FAA, explains, “Based on the comments about a ‘micro’ classification submitted as part of the small UAS proposed rule, the FAA will pursue a flexible, performance-based regulatory framework that addresses potential hazards instead of a classification defined primarily by weight and speed.

“To develop this framework, the FAA is seeking advice and recommendations from a diverse set of aviation stakeholders, including UAS manufacturers, UAS operators, consensus-standards organization, and researchers and academics,” he says.

The committee will begin its work in March and issue its final report to the FAA on April 1. The FAA says its UAS registration task force – which was established last October and came out with registration recommendations in November – serves as a model for the micro UAS rulemaking committee, which will be co-chaired by Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s UAS integration office, and Nancy Egan, general counsel for 3D Robotics.

“The department continues to be bullish on new technology,” says Anthony Foxx, U.S. transportation secretary. “We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System. The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”

The FAA says it has invited the following stakeholders to the committee: 3D Robotics, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, ASTM International, the Consumer Technology Association, DJI, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Google[x], GoPro, the Helicopter Association International, ICON Aircraft, Intel, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the News Media Coalition, the Professional Aerial Photographers Association International, the Small UAV Coalition, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Toy Industry Association.

The FAA’s Q&A on the new committee can be found here.

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