FAA Changes the Rules…

On January 14, 2019, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced proposed new rules and a pilot project to allow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or more commonly called drones, to fly overnight and over people without waivers under certain conditions and to further integrate drones safely into the national airspace system.

DRAFT NPRM--Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems over People
These proposed changes to Part 107 would attempt to balance the need to mitigate safety risks without inhibiting technological and operational advances.

DRAFT ANPRM–Safe and Secure Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
The FAA will seek public input to identify major drone safety and security issues that may pose a threat to other aircraft, to people on the ground or to national security as drones are integrated into our national airspace.

Both the NPRM and ANPRM were closed for comments as of April 15, 2019.

Here is a brief highlight summary of what might be expected:

–Flights over people and night operations may no longer require exemptions. However, at the same time, new questions relating to those functions could be expected on the intial and recurrent part 107 exams.

–Hobby and recreational drone operators will no longer “notify” air traffic control when operating near controlled aiports but will be required to obtiain prior permission from the airport managment. However, recreational operators would now be allowd to use the LAANC automated authorization system.

–Testing for initial and recurrent commercial drone operator certification could become an online function. However, there may also be a testing requirement for recreational drone operators as well.

Some of these changes can be expected to go into effect starting November 16, 2019.