Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Introduction:

  • Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are fundamentally changing the way we view aviation
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), formerly referred to as "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" (UAVs) or "Drones," are having an increasing operational presence in the NAS
    • Once the exclusive domain of the military, UAS are now being operated by various entities
  • Although these aircraft are "unmanned," UAS are flown by a remotely located pilot and crew
  • Physical and performance characteristics of unmanned aircraft (UA) vary greatly and unlike model aircraft that typically operate lower than 400' AGL, UA may be found operating at virtually any altitude and any speed
  • Sizes of UA can be as small as several pounds to as large as a commercial transport aircraft
  • UAS come in various categories including airplane, rotorcraft, powered-lift (tilt-rotor), and lighter-than-air
  • Propulsion systems of UAS include a broad range of alternatives from piston powered and turbojet engines to battery and solar-powered electric motors

Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

  • Amazon Quadcopter
    Amazon Quadcopter
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are unique as they are operated through commands sent via line of sight, relayed by satellite relay, or by responding to pre-set programming in the on-board computer
  • There are two components to UAS Operations:
    • Uplink that transmits command and control (C2) instructions to the aircraft, and;
    • Downlink which relays the operation/status of onboard systems within the aircraft to the ground control station
  • If either link is disabled or malfunctions, the result is defined as "UAS Operations"

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations:

  • UAS operations are governed by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the United States Code (USC)
    • The type of operation, purpose of the flight, and weight of the UAS all factor into the specific rule that governs UAS operations
  • Part 107 Operations:

    • Part 107 operations are a regulatory first step for civil non-recreational UAS operations
    • To fly under 14 CFR Part 107, the UAS must weigh less than 55 pounds and the operator (called a remote pilot) must pass a knowledge test
      • Also, the UAS must be registered
    • Part 107 enabled the vast majority of routine sUAS operations, allowing flight within VLOS while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations
      • Part 107 operations include commercial aerial photography, commercial aerial survey, other operations for hire, and operations that are not conducted purely for pleasure/recreation
    • Part 107 allows sUAS operations for many different purposes without requiring airworthiness certification, exemptions, or a COA for Class G airspace access
    • Part 107 includes the opportunity for individuals to request waivers for certain provisions of the rules, for example, Beyond Visual Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS)
    • Part 107 also has specific restrictions which are not subject to waiver, such as the prohibition of the carriage or transport of Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)
  • Recreational Flyer Operations:

    • The FAA considers recreational UAS to be aircraft that fall within the statutory and regulatory definitions of an aircraft, in that they are devices that are used or intended to be used for flight in the air
      • As aircraft, these devices generally are subject to FAA oversight and enforcement
    • Recreational aircraft may operate in Class G airspace where the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet AGL, and the operator must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions
      • The only exception to this altitude restriction in Class G airspace is at FAA-recognized fixed sites and sanctioned events, with specifically approved procedures for flights above 400 feet AGL
    • 49 USC 44809, Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft Operations, governs unmanned or model aircraft
    • Recreational flyers typically operate small UAS or model also called radio-controlled (RC) aircraft
    • Recreational flyers operating UAS weighing more than 55 pounds may operate in compliance with standards and limitations developed by a CBO and from fixed sites, see Aeronautical Information Manual subparagraph 11-4-1c1, Fixed Sites
  • Part 91 Operations:

    • Part 91 operations include public UAS, and civil UAS 55 pounds or more Maximum Gross Operating Weight (MGOW)
    • AC 00-1.1, Public Aircraft, contains more information on public UAS operations, including the requirements for qualification as a public operator, and how aircraft and pilots are certified, refer to AC 00-1.1, Public Aircraft
  • Classified into five categories called "groups," UAS range from small hand-launched aircraft, similar to model aircraft, to aircraft comparable to a Boeing 747
  • As the Federal Aviation Administration works to integrate these systems into the national airspace system pilots, owe it to themselves to learn how UAS will impact their operation
  • Amazon Quadcopter
    Amazon Quadcopter

Large UAS Operations:

  • Large public UAS may have wingspans as large as commercial airliners, and may operate in and out of public/military dual-use airfields. Due to the high altitudes at which these UAS routinely operate, and the means through which they reach and vacate operating altitudes, encounters with manned or low-altitude unmanned traffic are rare
  • Public users operating as "public aircraft" retain the responsibility to determine airworthiness and pilot qualifications. Aircraft certification and operating rules apply to the entire UAS, including the aircraft itself, the flight crew with their associated qualifications, the control station, and command and control links
    • Large UAS operating in controlled airspace generally communicate on radio frequencies or through an ATC-to-PIC ground communications link assigned to that sector, terminal area, or control tower. The UAS PIC is required to comply with all ATC instructions and uses standard phraseology per FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, and this manual
  • Large civil UAS operations in the NAS are presently considered those UAS weighing 55 pounds or more with or without aircraft airworthiness certification, along with their control stations and radio links operating under 14 CFR Part 91. These operations may or may not receive ATC separation services, but will not be operating under UAS Traffic Management (UTM) structures. Examples of current large UAS civil operators include agricultural spraying and operation as radio/telephone airborne relays. Future large UAS operations will include carriage of cargo and passengers, and very long- endurance aircraft, staying aloft for extended periods of time
  • Collision Avoidance:

    • A Layered Approach for Collision Avoidance
      A Layered Approach for Collision Avoidance
    • Large UAS must meet performance, equipage requirements, and adhere to relevant procedures commensurate with the airspace in which the UAS is operating
    • Absent an onboard pilot, large UAS are unable to "see and avoid" other aircraft, as required by regulations governing the general operation of aircraft in the NAS under Title 14 CFR Section 91.111, Operating Near other Aircraft, and 14 CFR Section 91.113, Right of Way Rules: Except Water Operations. As a result, they cannot use visual observation to remain "well clear" of other aircraft and avoid collisions. Therefore, an alternate means of compliance is required to remain well clear of other aircraft and surface obstacles, and avoid collisions
    • A Layered Approach for Collision Avoidance, illustrates the different layers used to keep aircraft safely separated, beginning with airspace classification and design, then ending with the responsibility of the pilot to prevent collisions [Figure 2]
    • A Layered Approach for Collision Avoidance
      A Layered Approach for Collision Avoidance
  • Transition to full integration into the NAS:

    • Over time, full integration of large UAS operations in the NAS will be achieved. Current large UAS operations will continue to be dependent on COAs, the issuance of NOTAMs, and possibly other measures (e.g., chase plane, segregated airspace) as currently used for accommodated operations. This integration is evolving with UAS technology advances, FAA regulatory changes, NAS automation, communications improvements, and evolving use cases and demand
    • Transponder equipped UAS, during lost link events, if capable, will squawk secondary surveillance radar (SSR)/Transponder code 7400. If the UAS is not programmed for use of SSR code 7400, then code 7600 may be used
  • Large UAS Operating characteristics:

    • To illustrate the sizes and performance of large public UAS, consider the DoD UAS classification system. The categories (see FIG 11-3-1) are separated based on MGOW, normal operating altitude, and flying speed. These classifications do not apply to non-DoD civil aircraft. Generally, Groups 1 through 3 UAS will operate on and above military bases, in restricted or prohibited airspace. For this reason, these smaller tactical public aircraft will rarely be encountered by civil pilots. Groups 4 and 5 are the largest of DoD UAS, weighing over 1,320 pounds, and operating at all speeds and altitudes. Group 4 aircraft operate at all altitudes, usually below 18,000 feet MSL. Group 5 aircraft typically operate well above 18,000 feet MSL. UAS in Groups 4 and 5 require airfields with specially approved surfaces to safely operate. For specifications and descriptions of the aircraft models that the DoD operates, refer to military service fact sheets
      • The category chart does not specify the actual high gross weights at which some DoD UAS actually operate. For instance, the RQ-4 Global Hawk regularly operates at approximately 32,000 pounds.)
      • JP 3-30, III 31, Joint Publication 3-30, provides the UAS Categorization Chart and may be reviewed at: https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_30.pdf?ver=2019-09-04-142255-657
      • These websites provide unclassified descriptions, performance, and specifications of the varied UAS in the DoD's large category fleet: USAF Fact Sheets at https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/ and USN Fact Files at https://www.navy.mil/Resources/Fact-Files/
  • Large UAS Characteristics and Operating Areas:

    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Categorization Chart
      Aeronautical Information Manual,
      Unmanned Aircraft Systems Categorization Chart
    • Large public UAS may be sharing airspace with civil aircraft in the NAS
      • A wide variety of aircraft performance, voice radio communications, command and control link architecture, and operating procedures exists throughout the DoD and other large public UAS enterprises
      • For example, Group 4 DoD aircraft, such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, are typically propeller-driven with propulsion units that are internal combustion piston- or turbine-powered
      • The largest public UAS include single-engine jet aircraft such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton
    • VLOS and BVLOS link systems provide command and control for these large UAS operations. Voice communication capability in the largest public UAS is far more extensive than in the smaller aircraft. Many models are limited to a single voice radio transmitter and receiver system for control inside airspace managed by and/or delegated to the DoD
    • Many of the larger public UAS are equipped with transponders to assist ATC with position and tracking information. These UAS usually operate under IFR under positive ATC control and will tend to be found at very high altitudes; not likely to be encountered by civil aircraft operators. Launch and recovery operations will be likewise under positive ATC control and these UAS will be separated from any other known aircraft traffic. Encounters with low-altitude small UAS, being flown in uncontrolled airspace or under low-altitude controlled airspace authorizations, are therefore unlikely. In accordance with 14 CFR Section 91.215(e)(2), ATC Transponder and Altitude Reporting Equipment and Use, no person may operate an unmanned aircraft under Part 91 with a transponder on unless: (1) the operation is conducted under a flight plan and the person operating the unmanned aircraft maintains two-way communications with ATC; or (2) the use of a transponder is otherwise authorized by the Administrator
    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Categorization Chart
      Aeronautical Information Manual,
      Unmanned Aircraft Systems Categorization Chart
  • Large UAS Launch and Recovery Operating Areas:

    • Large public UAS operations are widespread and carefully managed to ensure enhanced safety for other NAS users
      • For this reason, DoD UAS operate in many types of special use airspace
    • Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are issued for the surrounding UAS operating locations and allow for the launch and recovery of larger UAS
      • Once outside of the terminal environment, DoD UAS utilize the full range of SUA, including Military Operating Areas (MOA), restricted areas, warning areas, and alert areas to conduct their missions

Integration:

  • To ensure segregation of UAS operations from other aircraft, the military typically conducts UAS operations within restricted or other special use airspace
  • However, UAS operations are now being approved in the NAS outside of special use airspace through the use of FAA-issued Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) or through the issuance of a special airworthiness certificate
  • COA and special airworthiness approvals authorize UAS flight operations to be contained within specific geographic boundaries and altitudes, usually require coordination with an ATC facility, and typically require the issuance of a NOTAM describing the operation to be conducted
  • UAS approvals also require observers to provide "see-and-avoid" capability to the UAS crew and to provide the necessary compliance with 14 CFR Section 91.113
  • For UAS operations approved at or above FL180, UAS operate under the same requirements as that of manned aircraft (i.e., flights are operated under instrument flight rules, are in communication with ATC, and are appropriately equipped)

UAS Definitions:

  • Control Station: an interface used by the remote pilot to control the flight path of the small unmanned aircraft
  • Corrective Lenses: spectacles or contact lenses
  • Small Unmanned Aircraft: an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft
  • Small Unmanned Aircraft System (small UAS): a small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system
  • Unmanned Aircraft: an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft
  • Visual Observer: a person who is designated by the remote pilot in command to assist the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground

UAS Categories:

  • UAS are broken into four categories
  • Category 1 Operations:

    • A remote pilot in command must use a small unmanned aircraft that:
      • Weighs 0.55 pounds or less on takeoff and throughout the duration of each operation under Category 1, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft; and
      • Does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being
    • No remote pilot in command may operate a small unmanned aircraft in sustained flight over open-air assemblies of human beings unless the operation meets the requirements of either FAR 89.110 or FAR 89.115(a)
  • Category 2 Operations:

    • A remote pilot in command must use a small unmanned aircraft that:
    • No remote pilot in command may operate a small unmanned aircraft in sustained flight over open-air assemblies of human beings unless the operation meets the requirements of either FAR 89.110 or FAR 89.115(a)
    • Category 2 Eligibility:

      • To be eligible for use in Category 2 operations, the small unmanned aircraft must be designed, produced, or modified such that it:
        • Will not cause injury to a human being that is equivalent to or greater than the severity of injury caused by a transfer of 11 foot-pounds of kinetic energy upon impact from a rigid object;
        • Does not contain any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being; and
        • Does not contain any safety defects
    • Category 2 Labeling:

      • The applicant for a declaration of compliance for a small unmanned aircraft that is eligible for use in Category 2 operations in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, must meet all of the following requirements for the applicant's unmanned aircraft to be used in Category 2 operations:
        • Display a label on the small unmanned aircraft indicating eligibility to conduct Category 2 operations. The label must be in English and be legible, prominent, and permanently affixed to the small unmanned aircraft
    • Product Support and Notification:

      • The applicant for a declaration of compliance must maintain product support and notification procedures to notify the public and the FAA of:
        • Any defect or condition that causes the small unmanned aircraft to no longer meet the requirements of this subpart; and
        • Any identified safety defect that causes the small unmanned aircraft to exceed a low probability of casualty
    • Category 2 sUAS Sale or Transfer:

      • Have remote pilot operating instructions that apply to the operation of the small unmanned aircraft system. The applicant for a declaration of compliance must make available these instructions upon sale or transfer of the aircraft or use of the aircraft by someone other than the applicant who submitted a declaration of compliance pursuant to § 107.160. Such instructions must address, at a minimum:
        • A system description that includes the required small unmanned aircraft system components, any system limitations, and the declared category or categories of operation;
        • Modifications that will not change the ability of the small unmanned aircraft system to meet the requirements for the category or categories of operation the small unmanned aircraft system is eligible to conduct; and
        • Instructions for how to verify and change the mode or configuration of the small unmanned aircraft system, if they are variable

UAS Operations:

  • UAS operations may be approved at either controlled or uncontrolled airports and are typically disseminated by NOTAM
  • In all cases, approved UAS operations must comply with all applicable regulations and/or special provisions specified in the COA or in the operating limitations of the special airworthiness certificate
  • By regulation, no person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base
  • Operations At Uncontrolled Airports:

    • At uncontrolled airports, UAS operations are advised to operate well clear of all known manned aircraft operations
    • Pilots of manned aircraft are advised to follow normal operating procedures and are urged to monitor the CTAF for any potential UAS activity
  • Operations At Controlled Airports:

    • At controlled airports, local ATC procedures may be in place to handle UAS operations and should not require any special procedures from manned aircraft entering or departing the traffic pattern or operating in the vicinity of the airport
  • In addition, a recently approved agreement between the FAA and the Department of Defense authorizes small UAS operations wholly contained within Class G airspace, and in no instance, greater than 1200' AGL over military owned or leased property
  • These operations do not require any special authorization as long as the UA remains within the lateral boundaries of the military installation as well as other provisions including the issuance of a NOTAM
  • Unlike special use airspace, these areas may not be depicted on an aeronautical chart
  • All recreational flyers must pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of test passage (the TRUST completion certificate) to the FAA or law enforcement upon request

UAS Currency:

  • Drone pilots who already have part 107 Remote Pilot Certification can take their required recency of knowledge training courses online. The training ensures that they have the updated knowledge necessary to operate. The training is free and available on FAASafety.gov. Be sure to follow the "Training Credit" instructions in the Introduction or Review sections of these courses, before you begin, to receive the appropriate credit. Here are the courses:
    • Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots (ALC-677) - All individuals who hold a part 107 remote pilot certificate are eligible to take this course. If you don't hold any other pilot certificates other than part 107, this is likely the course you need to take. http://bit.ly/ALC-677
    • Part 107 Small UAS Initial (ALC-451) - Only part 107 remote pilots who are also certificated and current under part 61 are eligible to take this course. http://bit.ly/ALC451
    • Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent (ALC -515) - Only part 107 remote pilots who are also certificated and current under part 61 are eligible to take this course. http://bit.ly/ALC515
    • UAS Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test - If you do not hold a current Remote Pilot Certificate and want to operate under part 107, you must take this test through an FAA-Approved Knowledge Testing Center (https://faa.psiexams.com). Please note that there is a fee associated with this test. Part 61 pilots who do not have a current flight review (per 14 CFR 61.56) and wish to operate under Part 107 are required to take this test as well
  • Completing any of the online courses or passing the UAS Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test will provide 24 calendar months of currency. A calendar month includes all days within that month. For example, completing the Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent Non-Part 61 Pilots (ALC-677) course on April 6, 2021, will permit a remote pilot to fly under part 107 through April 30, 2023. For more information, go to www.faa.gov/uas or see the FAA news release here: https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=97201

UAS Regulation:

  • Part 107 exists for and applies to the registration, airman certification, and operation of civil small unmanned aircraft systems within the United States
  • Part 107 does not apply to:
    • Air carrier operations;
    • Any aircraft subject to the provisions of part 101 of this chapter; or
    • Any operation that a remote pilot in command elects to conduct pursuant to an exemption issued under section 333 of Public Law 112-95, unless otherwise specified in the exemption

Part 107 Compliance:

  • Means of Compliance:

    • Establishment of Compliance:

      • To meet the requirements of FAR 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2, or the requirements of FAR 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3, the means of compliance must consist of test, analysis, or inspection
    • Required Information:

      • An applicant requesting FAA acceptance of a means of compliance must submit the following information to the FAA in a manner specified by the Administrator:
        • Detailed description of the means of compliance, including applicable test, analysis, or inspection procedures to demonstrate how the small unmanned aircraft meets the requirements of § 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2 or the requirements of § 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3. The description should include conditions, environments, and methods, as applicable
        • Explanation of how application of the means of compliance fulfills the requirements of § 107.120(a) for operations in Category 2 or the requirements of § 107.130(a) for operations in Category 3
    • FAA Acceptance:

      • If the FAA determines the applicant has demonstrated compliance with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, it will notify the applicant that it has accepted the means of compliance
    • Rescission:

      • A means of compliance is subject to ongoing review by the Administrator. The Administrator may rescind its acceptance of a means of compliance if the Administrator determines that a means of compliance does not meet any or all of the requirements of this subpart
      • The Administrator will publish a notice of rescission in the Federal Register
    • Inapplicability of part 13, subpart D, of this chapter. Part 13, subpart D, of this chapter does not apply to the procedures of paragraph (a) of this section
  • Demonstration of Compliance:

    • A remote pilot in command, owner, or person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system must, upon request, make available to the Administrator:
      • The remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating; and
      • Any other document, record, or report required to be kept under the regulations of this chapter
    • The remote pilot in command, visual observer, owner, operator, or person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system must, upon request, allow the Administrator to make any test or inspection of the small unmanned aircraft system, the remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system, and, if applicable, the visual observer to determine compliance with this part
  • Declaraion of Compliance:

    • Required Information:

      • For an applicant to declare a small unmanned aircraft is compliant with the requirements of this subpart for Category 2 or Category 3 operations, an applicant must submit a declaration of compliance for acceptance by the FAA, in a manner specified by the Administrator, that includes the data outlined in FAR 107.160
    • FAA Acceptance:

      • If the FAA determines the applicant has demonstrated compliance with the requirements of this subpart, it will notify the applicant that it has accepted the declaration of compliance
    • Notification of a Safety Issue:

      • Prior to initiating rescission proceedings pursuant to paragraphs (d)(1) through (3) of this section, the FAA will notify the applicant if a safety issue has been identified for the declaration of compliance
    • Rescission:

      • No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft identified on a declaration of compliance that the FAA has rescinded pursuant to this subpart while that declaration of compliance is rescinded
      • The FAA may rescind a declaration of compliance if any of the following conditions occur:
        • A small unmanned aircraft for which a declaration of compliance was accepted no longer complies with § 107.120(a) or § 107.130(a);
        • The FAA finds a declaration of compliance is in violation of § 107.5(a); or
        • The Administrator determines an emergency exists related to safety in accordance with the authority in 49 U.S.C. 46105
      • If a safety issue identified under paragraph (c) of this section has not been resolved, the FAA may rescind the declaration of compliance as follows:
        • The FAA will issue a notice proposing to rescind the declaration of compliance. The notice will set forth the Agency's basis for the proposed rescission and provide the holder of the declaration of compliance with 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of the proposed notice to submit evidentiary information to refute the proposed notice
        • The holder of the declaration of compliance must submit information demonstrating how the small unmanned aircraft meets the requirements of this subpart within 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of the proposed notice
        • If the FAA does not receive the information required by paragraph (d)(3)(ii) of this section within 30 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the proposed notice, the FAA will issue a notice rescinding the declaration of compliance
        • If the Administrator determines that an emergency exists in accordance with paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section, the FAA will exercise its authority under 49 U.S.C. 46105(c) to issue an order rescinding a declaration of compliance without initiating the process in paragraph (d)(3) of this section
      • Petition to reconsider the rescission of a declaration of compliance. A person subject to an order of rescission under paragraph (d)(3) of this section may petition the FAA to reconsider the rescission of a declaration of compliance by submitting a request to the FAA in a manner specified by the Administrator within 60 days of the date of issuance of the rescission
        • A petition to reconsider the rescission of a declaration of compliance must demonstrate at least one of the following:
          • A material fact that was not present in the original response to the notification of the safety issue and an explanation for why it was not present in the original response;
          • The FAA made a material factual error in the decision to rescind the declaration of compliance; or
          • The FAA did not correctly interpret a law, regulation, or precedent
        • Upon consideration of the information submitted under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the FAA will issue a notice either affirming the rescission or withdrawing the rescission
      • Inapplicability of part 13, subpart D, of this chapter. Part 13, subpart D, of this chapter does not apply to the procedures of paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section

Recreational Flyers:

  • Advisory Circular 91-57, Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, provides guidance for recreational flyers. Failure of a recreational flyer to adhere to any of the requirements for recreational status under 14 USC 44809 will result in the flight being considered 14 CFR Part 107 by the FAA, which may result in greater penalties if the operator is found operating in an unsafe manner. Recreational flyers may only operate under the statutory exception if they adhere to all of the conditions listed in the statute
  • Operations in Class G airspace. Flights in Class G airspace will be the most common environment for many recreational flyers. The upper limit of recreational UAS operations in Class G airspace is 400 feet AGL. When operating in Class G airspace, the recreational flyer must follow the set of safety guidelines outlined and developed by a recognized Community-Based Organization (CBO)
  • Operations in controlled airspace or uncontrolled airspace above 400 feet AGL. If a recreational flyer desires to operate in class B, C, or D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of class E airspace designated for an airport, or in class G airspace above 400 feet, the operator must obtain prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating. For the recreational flyer wishing to enter controlled airspace, there are two basic routes:
    • Fixed sites are locations specifically authorized by the FAA, which are posted at the FAA's interactive map on the UAS Data Delivery System (UDDS). On the map, small blue circles depict the location of these sites in controlled airspace and the altitude limits imposed on those sites. The altitude restrictions are derived from the UASFM which form the basic structure of LAANC and its operating procedures. Recreational flyers can access site-specific information by clicking on the blue circle
      • NOTE-These sites have existing letters of agreement or authorization (LOA) with the FAA. For the CBO to operate in controlled airspace, an airspace authorization agreement between the CBO and the FAA must be in place. Certain sites may have access restrictions or other operating limitations, which are available from the site sponsor
  • 2. By request, through the LAANC Application. LAANC provides the recreational pilot with access, when permissible, to controlled airspace at or below posted UASFM altitudes in near-real time. LAANC also gives the recreational flyer the ability to stay notified of airspace restrictions and prohibitions. See paragraph 11-8-7 of this chapter for information on downloading the LAANC application
  • CBO Sanctioned Events. Sanctioned events, also called sponsored events are generally of short duration and take place at an existing fixed site or temporary fixed site established specifically for the event
    • CBO's requesting a sanctioned or sponsored event authorization within Class B, C, D, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport are obligated to make the location known to the FAA Administrator. Mutually agreed-upon operating procedures must be established with the event organizer. This is accomplished through a fixed site application in DroneZone
    • CBO operations and events occurring at 400 feet AGL and below in Class G airspace do not require FAA review, approval or authorization. CBO's intending to conduct events in Class G airspace that may exceed 400 feet AGL must contact the FAA for further information

Conclusion:

  • UAS will continue to grow at a rapid pace, accelerated by the International Standards Organization's release of TC 20/SC 16
  • There are several factors a pilot should consider regarding UAS activity in an effort to reduce potential flight hazards
  • Pilots are urged to exercise increased vigilance when operating in the vicinity of restricted or other special use airspace, military operations areas, and any military installation
  • Areas with a preponderance of UAS activity are typically noted on sectional charts advising pilots of this activity
  • Since the size of a UA can be very small, they may be difficult to see and track
  • If a UA is encountered during flight, as with manned aircraft, never assume that the pilot or crew of the UAS can see you, maintain increased vigilance with the UA and always be prepared for evasive action if necessary
  • Always check NOTAMs for potential UAS activity along the intended route of flight and exercise increased vigilance in areas specified in the NOTAM
  • Learn mroe about aircraft registration
  • Everything has the potential to be waived, and the FAA has published guidance on how
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References: