The FAA is forming an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) with industry stakeholders to recommend a regulatory framework for operation of certain small unmanned aircraft systems over people. In its small UAS notice of proposed rulemaking released last year, the FAA had proposed limiting operation of small UAS over people unless the aircraft involved was a micro UAS. The proposal had outlined a “micro” UAS classification, but based on comments to that proposal, the agency decided against proceeding with the classification and instead to work further with industry and stakeholders to shape the regulatory framework. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that rather than pursuing a micro classification, the agency will instead develop a more flexible performance-based approach to address potential hazards.
The ARC will be tasked with developing recommendations for the performance-based approach for such operations. The standards will encompass both design of aircraft and operating rules. The recommendations are due April 1, and the FAA will draft a proposed rulemaking based upon the report.
“We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the national airspace system,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”
As the FAA contemplates the introduction of small UAS to the national airspace system, NASA has licensed a new communication technology for the aircraft. NASA entered into an agreement with Vigilant Aerospace Systems to commercialize ADS-B and traffic situational awareness technology for UAS. The technology was developed under a NASA program that researched various means to facilitate unmanned and manned aircraft sharing national airspace. Vigilant will commercialize the technology under its FlightHorizon product suite.
Here at Heli-Expo 2016, there is strong interest in the UAS market, and five exhibitors are present, along with multiple UAS-related safety and operations sessions. The exhibitors include: AeroUAVs (Booth 12239); Aeryon Labs (Booth 7833); High Eye (Booth 7736); Olaeris (Booth 3801); and Riegl (Booth 7636).