The FAA is seeking public comment on a proposal to certify drone delivery UAS as a “special class” of aircraft under FAR 21.17(b). The agency said this did not preclude type certifying these aircraft under FAR 21.17(a) “when appropriate.” It will also “announce and seek public comment on the particularized airworthiness criteria for each applicant as certification standards for this new special class evolve” and will “issue rulemaking or publish standards as guidance in an advisory circular” once generally-applicable standards are identified.
According to the FAA, this policy is consistent with its handling of certification of other special classes of aircraft including gliders, airships, and very light airplanes. The FAA said the special class designation for UAS is appropriate as these aircraft contain “the very unique, novel, and/or unusual features the special class category was designed to accommodate” such as launch and recovery systems and unique “configurations and applications of airframes, powerplants, fuels, and materials are possible and can result in flight characteristics different from those of conventional aircraft.”
Comments are due by March 4.