Business and general aviation advocates are lauding the FAA’s new rules governing the use of commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for providing clear guidance and practical requirements for their safe integration. The FAA released the much anticipated rule yesterday establishing a new Part 107 for UAS weighing less than 55 pounds.
Both NBAA and AOPA noted the final rule includes changes encouraged by the general aviation community, including lowering the maximum operating height for UAS to 400 feet agl. This provides a 100-foot buffer between the UAS maximum operating height and the minimum for manned aircraft, the associations noted.
“We commend the FAA for balancing the imperative to maintain safety for manned aircraft operating in the national airspace system [NAS] with the practical needs of this rapidly emerging industry,” said Bob Lamond, NBAA's director of air traffic services and infrastructure. “Overall, these regulations provide clearly defined operating parameters that commercial UAS users have sought for years.”
“Unmanned aircraft are an increasingly important part of the aviation universe, and we’re pleased that the FAA is taking steps to integrate them fully and safely into the national airspace system,” added Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of government affairs.
Among other changes the groups pointed to was the classification of a UAS operator as a remote pilot-in-command and the means for operators with an existing, non-student Part 61 pilot certificate to meet the exam requirement through an online training course.
NBAA, however, expressed concern that the FAA still has not provided detail on the process for operators to obtain ATC permission when they plan to operate small UAS in Class B, C, D and E airspace. The FAA has said that this guidance will be available in the coming weeks.
“With the mixing of UAS and manned aircraft in the vicinity of airports, NBAA is very concerned that clear guidance for notification of UAS activity near airports is provided by the FAA as soon as possible,” Lamond added.