Law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) practice head Brendan Schulman has filed a formal petition for rulemaking with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on behalf of the UAS America Fund LLC, proposing a new ‘micro’ unmanned aircraft (mUA) rule.
The proposed regulation would govern all commercial operations for UAS that are three pounds or less in weight and are operated at altitudes below 400 feet, at least five miles away from airports, and by pilots with a demonstrated level of aeronautical knowledge.
Matthew Bieschke, president of the UAS Fund, says, ‘We tackled the safest and most straightforward category first, involving very lightweight, low-altitude, close-proximity operations. Our next UAS segments will add weight and operational complexity as we continue to work in cooperation with other industry stakeholders and regulators to unlock the domestic UAS market.’
The petition, filed on Dec. 18, includes a complete, self-contained set of UAS regulations for commercial and other non-recreational uses and is supported by a safety study conducted by Dr. Adam Dershowitz of Exponent Engineering using the FAA's own data.
‘This study, which is based on an analysis of 25 years of safety data rather than conjecture, shows that there is no significant added risk to other airspace users posed by this type of commercial drone operation,’ says Schulman. ‘The regulatory proposal balances an informed understanding of risk with the tremendous benefits our nation stands to gain by adopting this technology safely and quickly across countless industries.’
This study, believed to be the first of its kind, establishes that in the past 25 years, there have been no fatal aircraft collisions involving small or medium birds and only six injuries – despite the presence of 10 billion birds in the U.S. The petition also takes into account additional safety features that are both sensible and achievable for small business. For example, the proposal states that commercial drone operators can, and should, use their sense of hearing to avoid other air traffic, and should carry liability insurance.
The mUA category outlined by the petition encompasses many immediately beneficial applications, such as aerial photography, real estate, infrastructure inspection, news-gathering, agriculture, search and rescue, firefighting, training and certification, and many others. Most importantly, it will enhance aviation safety by establishing a specific set of operational safety parameters and pilot knowledge requirements in place of the current absence of any standards.