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 would 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.