FAA OKs Chute-equipped Drone for Flight over People

 - June 5, 2019, 2:03 PM

The FAA has issued its first Part 107 waiver to allow operation of a parachute-equipped drone over people. It was issued to Hensel Phelps Construction of Greeley, Colorado, which plans to operate a parachute-equipped DJI Phantom 4 light drone to track construction projects and for building maintenance inspections, among other tasks.

This waiver is the first time the FAA has worked with industry in developing a publicly available standard, worked with an applicant to ensure the testing and data collected acceptably met the standard, and issued a waiver using an industry standard as a basis to determine that a proposed sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) operation can be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver under Part 107.

The FAA did not certify or approve the parachute that will be used; however, the FAA determined that the waiver application sufficiently met the standard design specification (ASTM 3322-18) and that the proposed sUAS operation could be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver.

According to the FAA, the waiver is “scalable and available to other applicants who propose to use the same drone and parachute combination.” However, the agency noted that it will require each waiver applicant to provide testing, documentation, and compliance statements consistent with those listed in standard design specification.