In 2015 the FAA proposed new regulations allowing non-recreational small unmanned aircraft systems (small UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). While the new rules are flexible to accommodate future technological innovations, they also impose restrictions on operations for safety considerations.
On June 28, 2016, the FAA officially published “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Final Rule”, creating 14 C.F.R. Part 107 and amending numerous existing regulations in 14 C.F.R. or the Federal Aviation Regulations. These FARs become effective on August 29, 2016, and we are ready to help you comply.
What is a small UAS?
A small UAS is an unmanned aircraft weighing between .55 pounds up to 55 pounds or 24.9 kilograms. Part 107 does not apply to model aircrafts or a UAS operated strictly for hobby or recreational use.
Further, in order to put the UAS to business or commercial use, it must be registered. There is an on-line process for registering most small UAS found at registermyuas.faa.gov.
The paper (N-number) registration process must be used if:
- Your unmanned aircraft is 55 pounds or greater.
- You want to qualify a small unmanned aircraft for operation outside the United States.
- You hold title to an aircraft in trust.
- You use a voting trust to meet U.S. Citizenship requirements.
Further, “Foreign civil aircraft” concerns are eliminated if you obtain UAS services from a U.S. individual or entity that is not ultimately owned or controlled by non-U.S. citizens.
Who can operate a small UAS?
Part 107 states that the operator or pilot is a person who manipulates the flight controls of a small UAS. The FARs establish a new airman concept: Remote Pilot in Command, who may operate a small UAS. The pilot must hold a Remote Pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a Remote Pilot in Command.
Becoming a Remote Pilot in Command:
For current pilots, the FAA intends to make the process “easy”:
- Complete the online training course “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451” available on the FAA FAASTeam website
- Complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate)
- Validate applicant identity
- An appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will then issue the applicant a temporary airman certificate
- A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.
Becoming a Remote Pilot in Command for Non-Pilots:
New pilots will take a longer aeronautical knowledge test and be vetted by the TSA, but otherwise will follow the same process as described above for current pilots.
Operators are required to obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating along with passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center, followed by passing a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months thereafter.
How to operate small UAS?
14 C.F.R. Part 107 limits small UAS to daylight, good weather, visual-line-of-sight control, and certain other operational restrictions. FAA airworthiness certification is not required. However, the remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight check of the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation or airworthy condition.
Those currently operating a small UAS under a Section 333 exemption will undoubtedly find operation under the new Part 107 more advantageous, even considering the requirement to obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate.
However, we also expect that the exemption process will be necessary for commercial UAS operators whose needs and technology are already advanced beyond the just-published Part 107. We understand the airspace and the technology, so call or email us with your questions: 202.499.3834, or contact us here.