FAA Drone Rules Beta Ready For Comments

The FAA has made its Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems available for review and comment:

The FAA is proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules to allow the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System. These changes would address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, certification of their operators, registration, and display of registration markings. The proposed rule would also find that airworthiness certification is not required for small unmanned aircraft system operations that would be subject to this proposed rule. Lastly, the proposed rule would prohibit model aircraft from endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.

The basic rules have been set forth in a recent PopSci article:

Here are a few of the major proposed rules:
  • No careless or reckless operations
  • Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time)
  • Maximum airspeed of 100 mph
  • Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level
  • Those criteria mostly concern basic operation of a drone, and you can find more such rules in the government's official summary.
In addition, the FAA proposed a sort of drone operator license with the following criteria:
  • Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
  • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration
  • Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires)
  • Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months
  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule
  • Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage
  • Conduct a pre-flight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation

The sf community has been thinking about tiny micro-drones (like the Scarab flying robot insect, from Gallun's 1936 short story), as well as the idea of commercial delivery via aircraft, like the diaheliper from EB White's 1950 story.

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