The Small UAV Coalition recently filed comments in support of senseFly's petition to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in which senseFly requested permission to use its eBee unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the U.S. for precision agriculture.
Although the coalition says it has filed comments in support of 31 other petitions, this petition is notable in that its approval would create a path for other companies to operate their senseFly eBee for similar purposes without requiring these companies to obtain their own exemption.
The Small UAV Coalition says the FAA’s position to date is to entertain petitions only from individual operators – meaning that each operator of the eBee separately would have to undergo the four-month petition process even after the FAA approved the operation for senseFly.
The Small UAV Coalition says it disagrees with the FAA’s current position that every operator should be required to submit a petition for exemption. In the petition, senseFly asked in the alternative that the FAA should grant an exemption to any operator proposing to use the eBee who notifies the FAA in writing that it will abide by the terms and conditions of the senseFly exemption and the eBee operations manual – without the operator having to wait four months or more.
“We urge the FAA to swiftly approve senseFly’s petition for itself and other operators. This will avoid duplicative filings and thus reduce the workload for the UAS Integration Office and increase the efficiency of the exemption process, while maintaining an equivalent level of safety,” says Michael Drobac, executive director of the coalition.
The members of the Small UAV Coalition are (in alphabetical order) 3DR, Aerialtronics, Airware, Amazon Prime Air, DJI Innovations, Google[x]’s Project Wing, GoPro, Parrot, PrecisionHawk and Skyward.
The group, which is supported by a team of attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP, was recently formed with a goal of paving the way for the commercial, philanthropic and civil use of small UAVs in the U.S. and abroad. Chief among the organization's goals is to advance a regulatory environment that will support safe, reliable and timely operation of small UAVs.