FAA Drone Pilot CertificateFAA Issues First Major Unmanned Aircraft Rules Since 2016 – Transport

June 22, 2021by helo-10
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United States:

FAA Issues First Major Unmanned Aircraft Rules Since 2016


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On January 15, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration
(“FAA”) issued two significant final rules: the Remote Identification of Unmanned
Aircraft
 (“UA”) rule and the Operation of Small UA Systems Over
People
 rule. These are the first significant UA
regulations from the FAA since 2016, and are important steps to
increasing and regularizing commercial drone use in the United
States.

First, the Remote Identification (“Remote ID”) of UA
rule seeks to address law enforcement and public interest
groups’ concerns by providing a way to identify drones and
their operators. The rule sets three categories of drones with
corresponding broadcast and equipage requirements: (i) standard
remote ID, UAs with built-in remote ID technology, subject to no
additional operational restrictions; (ii) UAs with separate remote
ID modules affixed to the aircraft, which must be flown within
visual line of sight of the operator; and (iii) drones without
remote ID technology, which must be flown only in FAA-approved
Recognized Identification Areas. Remote ID equipped UA must
broadcast “message elements” such as the UA’s
location, heading, and altitude, and serial number or de-identified
operator information. Standard remote ID drones must also broadcast
the location of the UA’s control station. Although this
information is primarily intended to assist the FAA and law
enforcement, if needed, it is also available to the public. The
broadcast IDs would be required to use common unlicensed radio
frequencies, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which could be received by
most smartphones and handheld computing devices. Manufacturers
would be required to prove the reliability of their systems to the
FAA.

In response to cybersecurity and privacy concerns, the final
rule eliminates the proposed requirement to connect to, and
transmit, message elements through a third-party provided
internet-based network, and for that provider to retain the
information. While drone operators will not have their personal
information revealed via the remote ID technology, there remains
lingering privacy and security concerns that the final rule will
still result in making the drone location and that of the operator
available to the public. Drones flown in the United States
must comply with the remote ID requirements by September 2023.

The second rule lessens the regulatory burden on drone users by
allowing flights over people, at night, and over moving
vehicles-currently only allowed by waivers issued to individual
operators. The rule creates four categories for operation over
people based on the potential force of impact by the aircraft, and
sets corresponding graduated operational boundaries. To allow their
drones to be flown over people under this rule, manufacturers would
need to demonstrate to the FAA how they calculated impact force, or
be issued an airworthiness certificate. For night flights, pilots
must complete training and the UA must be equipped with operational
anti-collision lights. It also revises remote pilot testing
requirements, notably replacing recurrent testing with a continuing
education requirement. The operational rules take effect on March
16, and the training rules take effect on March 1.

These rules take important steps forward for the increased use
of drones and reducing the regulatory burden on operators that will
unlock new and expanded UA use in the United States. However, the
FAA still has work to do to implement the rules efficiently and to
continue to remove individualized waiver requirements.

Originally published February 2021.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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