The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released a new set of regulations (“Part 107”) for small drones (UAS). According to a June 21 press release these are the first operational rules for routine commercial use of drones, opening a pathway towards integration of UAS into the national airspace.
The regulations take effect in late August, 2016, and pertain to drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations. The regulations require pilots to keep drones within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) and address speed, height, time of day and other operational restrictions.
A remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating will be required for pilots, unless the pilot is directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a certificate, an individual must be at least 16 years old, and either pass an aeronautical test or have an existing pilot certificate with supplemental UAS training and review.
Commercial transportation of goods is permitted under certain conditions, including VLOS, weight restrictions, and geographical location.
Part 107 does not require small drones to comply with FAA airworthiness standards or obtain aircraft certification. Instead, the operator will need to perform a preflight check to ensure that systems are functioning properly. However, drones must be made available for inspection by the FAA, and operators must report any incidents that involve serious injury, property damage (except to the drone itself), and “loss of conciousness.”
The new regulations do not specifically deal with privacy issues and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property. However, privacy issues will be addressed by the FAA during the pilot certification process.
The new regulations do not apply to hobby aircraft, which are covered under a different rule.