Responses to FAA’s NPRM

Various groups backing the use of drones for commercial purposes have already started give their responses to the FAA’s proposed drone regulations published last month in a NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making).  Among these groups are a noted law firm, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of model aviation,and the general public. The following are the 2 organizations’ careful analysis in response to the agency’s  list of proposals, as well as the varied reactions from the public.

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The law firm, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankell LLP, have published their analysis in an “Alert” in which they examine some aspects of the NPRM that may affect key stakeholders and that raise notable aspects of the rulemaking process, among which are the following:

* The potential impact on academic, educational and research uses of remotely controlled model airplanes and aerial robotics
* The potential impact on recreational model aircraft enthusiasts including an apparent back-door attempt to impose regulations
* The apparent significance of  the omission of model aircraft developers and manufacturers from the NPRM
* Questions raised about volunteer, uncompensated and humanitarian operations
* The proposed visual line of sight limitation
* The proposed restriction on night operations
* Registration requirements and complications for non-U.S. systems and operators
* A “micro” UAS (low-weight) alternative proposed framework
* The significance of the FAA’s invocation of Section 333, rather than Section 332, of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, as the basis for its rulemaking
* Apparent omissions in the FAA’s economic cost/benefit analysis   – Read more here

Another group that has raised some valid concerns regarding FAA’s proposed rules is the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics). While saying that it views the proposed sUAS regulations as a positive step, it concerns itself with the FAA’s interpretation:

* Asserts model aircraft to be “aircraft” and effectively makes model airplanes subject to all regulations applicable to full-scale aircraft.
* Makes model aircraft subject to airspace requirements that have never been applicable in the past and with which it is impossible or impractical to comply.
* Effectively changes the criteria for operating within 5 miles of an airport from the requirement of providing prior “notification” to a requirement of obtaining prior permission.
* Narrowly defines “hobby and recreation” and puts in question the activities of the supporting aeromodeling industry and AMA’s educational programs.
* Rigidly defines the requirement to operate within visual line of sight and targets the use of a specific aeromodeling technology/equipment, namely first-person view (FPV) goggles.  – Read more at:

In a related news, it was also reported:  the model aviation group contends Congress made clear that hobby aircraft should not be subject to the FAA’s drones rules in the 2012 legislation, which directed the agency to create the drone regulations. “In its proposed rule, the agency concluded that regulations relating to the commercial use of [small drones] should not apply to the longstanding, educational hobby of flying model aircraft,” the group said in a statement.Read more:
Meanwhile, the general public, including aerial photographers interested in exploring the benefits of drone photography services,and other interested parties, are generally in favor of the proposed drone rules with some reservations as well. According to an article by ComputerWorld, the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed regulations on drones are receiving a largely favorable response from members of the public who have been motivated enough to comment on them.[…]The 500-feet ceiling is one area of debate, in part because it buttresses up to controlled airspace. Model aircraft are currently allowed to 400 feet, providing a slim buffer that drones shouldn’t enter, said Tim Olson, who identifies himself as a private pilot. Another pilot observed the extra 100 feet isn’t really needed for photography because most drones employ a wide-angle camera. – See more here:

The Droneologist is one with other drone advocates in commending the FAA for finally recognizing the potential benefits of non-recreational drones, according to its publisher, James Davis.  In addition, he adds that hopefully, “all the comments from various sectors, those of drone experts and other keenly knowledgeable drone backers and the public, be weighed carefully to help inform the FAA as it deliberates on the final set of rules, which hopefully too, won’t be too long in the making, otherwise the US will be far behind in taking full advantage of the fast-changing drone technologies.”


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