In recent comments submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proposed rules for small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) outlined what it feels are several key areas that should be enhanced to maintain the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS).
“We commend the FAA for the level of detail in the proposal and the clear intent to maintain the safety of our national airspace system,” says Capt. Tim Canoll, president of ALPA. “We believe the proposed rules, with some modification and with appropriate supplementary material, could be effective in ensuring that the introduction of commercial operations of small UAS into the National Airspace System would not pose a significant risk.”
In February, the FAA issued a set of proposed procedures that would regulate operations of sUAS in the NAS. In addition to recommending limiting commercial operations to daylight hours and visual line of sight, the rule also addresses – among other components – altitude restrictions, operator certification and aircraft registration. The proposed rules do not adequately regulate use of small UAS by hobbyists, according to ALPA.
ALPA encourages the FAA to develop additional standards and guidance in several areas to help ensure that all aircraft in the NAS operate at the highest level of safety, including recreational use by hobbyists.
By developing design requirements intended to ensure that sUAS remain within an approved area of operation, the FAA can help mitigate the risk of colliding with another aircraft by keeping sUAS within the defined airspace despite possible malfunction, a lack of operator awareness or deliberate disregard for safety regulations, says ALPA.
“The regulations should be thorough and flexible enough to remain relevant as technology continues to evolve. Together with the FAA and key stakeholders, we look forward to continuing to develop effective guidance that protects the safety and integrity of our national airspace system,” adds Canoll.