Air Bears, a volunteer search-and-rescue (SAR) organization based in St. Paul, Minn., is voicing its strong support of the micro unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) amendment recently added to the proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization.
On its website, Air Bears says it comprises a “global network of volunteer UAS pilots whose sole mission is to offer assistance to local police, fire and EMS agencies in emergency situations, including search-and-rescue operations.”
In order to provide free SAR services, the group says it must first obtain FAA authorization – “hoops and barriers that hinder [its] efforts,” especially in time-sensitive situations.
The group, which notes it “makes no sense logically, ethically or morally to shackle helping hands,” says under a passed micro UAS classification on the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, those who are “willing to volunteer their time and effort to help others with a UAS could do so without first obtaining an FAA ‘blessing.’”
The proposed classification – from Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., along with Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. – would separate UAS weighing 4.4 lbs. or under into their own classification.
Instead of falling into the same category as operators of drones weighing up to 55 lbs., micro UAS pilots would not be required to “pass any aeronautical knowledge test or meet any age or experience requirement,” “meet airworthiness certification standards or to obtain certificates of airworthiness,” or get a “certificate of authorization or waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration,” according to the amendment.
“Please help Air Bears and all others whose hobby is helping keep communities safe by urging your legislators to support the micro UAS amendment to the AIRR Act,” the organization says.