Paper Airplanes: FAA-Approved for Takeoff

Posted by Betsy Lillian on September 03, 2015 No Comments

On Aug. 26, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave, through its Section 333 exemption process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commercial authorization for the Tailor Toys PowerUp 3.0: a paper airplane powered by a dime-sized battery.

Peter Sachs, a drone advocate and pilot, as well as an attorney, submitted on May 12 a petition for exemption to operate the device for aerial photography/videography. He states explicitly in the petition that the majority of the structure comprises paper, “a frangible material.”

“The exemption is requested since the FAA might consider my [unmanned aircraft] to be an ‘aircraft’ under the federal definitions of the word, and that an exemption from certain [federal aviation regulations] would be in order to operate a small, 19-gram, camera-equipped unmanned powered paper airplane to create saleable art,” he says in the petition, which also notes that the paper airplane is roughly 1/1,232th of the weight of a 55-lb. UAS that Tailor Toys - PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone controlled paper airplane 10would be given approval under the same FAA process.

Sachs, who writes in the document that he has been an FAA-certified airman since 1983, notes in an interview with HuffPost Live that he was simply looking to “prove a point” – that the FAA will call anything flying in airspace an “aircraft” and, thus, subject it to the commercial exemption process.

Indeed, the agency, by giving its approval for the 19 g Tailor Toys PowerUp 3.0, is demonstrating that it is handling the Section 333 exemption process “entirely improperly,” according to Sachs.

“With this exemption, the FAA just asserted jurisdiction over a whimsical toy that’s used by children all over the world,” he says.

The entire HuffPost Live interview can be found here, starting at around 13:20.
The full exemption can be viewed here.

Tailor Toys - PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone controlled paper airplane 1

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