The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) both focused on small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), entitled “Operations of Small UAS over People” and “Safe and Secure Operations of Small UAS”, respectively.
Below you will find a link to the notices and a short summary of each.
This rulemaking would allow operations of small UAS over people in certain conditions and operations of small UAS at night without a waiver.
- Operations at night. The proposed rules would increase flexibility by allowing operations at night so long as the small UAS is lit with anti-collision lighting (visible for at least 3 statute miles) and the operator completes a new knowledge test (and remains current on training requirements).
- Operations over people. To increase operational flexibility and mitigate risks, the FAA proposes three categories of acceptable operations over people. Generally:
- Category 1: Small UAS weighing 0.55 pounds or less can operate over people.
- Category 2: Small UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds can fly over people so long as the manufacturer can demonstrate that the small UAS is designed in a way that would limit potential injury that results from a crash to below a certain threshold (e.g. limitations on rotating parts and the amount of kinetic energy that can be transferred upon impact). Note, however, that no small UAS in either Category 2 or Category 3 can be operated over people if it has an FAA-identified safety defect.
- Category 3: Allows a higher injury threshold; to mitigate increased risks, in addition to manufacturing and design requirements, Category 3 contains operational restrictions. These operational restrictions include a prohibition on operations over any open-air assembly of people. Permissible operations include those that are limited to a restricted site where everyone in the site is notified that a small UAS may fly over them. For operations not in/over a restricted site, small UAS can transit but may not sustain flight (e.g. circle/hover, etc.) over people.
The FAA is considering whether, and in what circumstances, additional rulemaking might be necessary to address public safety and national security concerns associated with UAS in the National Airspace.
Raises questions on whether to conduct future rulemakings to address public safety and national security concerns. The ANPRM seeks comment on additional operational and performance limitations including stand-off distances and payload restrictions. The ANPRM also requests feedback on potential UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system requirements and whether to require certain design elements, such as redundancy, for critical safety systems that operate over people (beyond the safety thresholds identified in the NPRM) or beyond visual line of sight.