The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking to safely integrate small UAS operations into the National Airspace System (NAS) using a phased, incremental, and risk-based approach to rulemaking within the FAA’s existing statutory authority.
As technology continues to improve and new uses for small UAS are identified, the FAA anticipates an increased demand for flexibility in operational restrictions. These new types of operations could pose public safety and national security risks not yet anticipated. Additionally public safety and national security entities have expressed a need to distinguish between small UAS that may pose a threat and those that do not, especially when operating in close proximity to large public gatherings, critical infrastructure or certain other facilities and assets. Hence the FAA is constantly assessing the ability of the regulations to ensure that small UAS operations do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.
The FAA is seeking information from the public in response to the questions contained in this Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM). The FAA seeks comment specifically on whether and in what circumstances the FAA should promulgate new rulemaking to require stand-off distances, additional operating and performance restrictions, the use of UAS Traffic Management (UTM), and additional payload restrictions. The FAA also seeks comment on whether it should prescribe design requirements and require that unmanned aircraft be equipped with critical safety systems.
The FAA also seeks comments on how this rulemaking could be implemented to:
- Meet the objective of the proposal in a manner that maximizes benefits without imposing excessive, unjustified, or unnecessary costs.
- Answers to specific questions immediately following the discussion of the relevant issues.
- Provide as much information as possible on any questions of interest.
- Provide specific information like citations and copies of any relevant studies or reliable reports including cost data as well as any additional data which supports comment.
- Explain the basis and reasoning underlying your comment and to include the identifying number of the specific question(s) to which it is responding.
The FAA will use comments to make decisions regarding the content and direction of potential notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) or other future rulemakings. Some proposals for addressing national security and other concerns may exceed the FAA’s authority to regulate independently and may necessitate a broader Federal Executive or Legislative action. Comments, including proposals for rulemaking, will be considered within the context of the FAA’s existing statutory authority.
DJI, the civilian drones and aerial imaging technology giant as also urged professional drone operators in the United States to submit comments to the FAA about proposed new rules to allow professionals to routinely fly drones at night and over people, as well as how to safely prepare for UTM, implement payload restrictions and enable flight beyond visual line of sight.
Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs said, “We strongly encourage professional drone operators and fleet operators to read the FAA’s proposals and submit their perspectives on how to ensure drones can handle expanded responsibilities safely.”
David Hansell, DJI Public Policy Manager said, “The FAA is asking many good questions about how best to ensure that drones remain a safe addition to the airspace as they are allowed to perform more types of complex operations. Professional drone operators should seize this opportunity to have a say in the rules that will govern how and whether they can use expanded capabilities to achieve great things with drones.” DJI will submit its own formal comments by the deadline.
The FAA must receive comments on these proposals through its online portal by Monday, April 15. To date, while almost 1,500 comments have been received about safe and secure drone operations, fewer than 100 comments have been received about flight at night and over people.