The FAA issues more exemptions, the NPRM might affect hobbyists, NYC looks at banning drones, agriculture eager to get started, Fort Bliss is building a drone port, and drone videos for the holidays.
The FAA granted five regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations to four companies under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The four companies that received exemptions want to fly UAS to perform operations for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections.
The FAA determined that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.
The FAA has a backlog of 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Integration, Oversight, and Competitiveness
FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Margaret Gilligan explained that the FAA implemented a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) program which will permit Test Site designees to issue experimental certificates for unmanned aircraft.
To help the test sites develop the capability to assess unmanned aircraft and issue these certificates, the FAA developed both online and in-person training. Once test site designees have completed FAA training, they will be authorized to work within this new program.
Congress in 2012 exempted hobbyists from new FAA rules – provided they adhere to, among other things, the safety code of a community-based organization, such as the 170,000 member AMA. But there are are an estimated 300,000 non-members flying hobbyist aircraft who are largely unaware of hobbyist association safety codes.
Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill banning use of all drones except for those operated by police officers with warrants:
No person may avigate a UAV within the limits of the city except:
- The police department in accordance with section 14-133.1.
- A person avigating such UAV pursuant to and within the limits of an express authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Councilman Paul Vallone introduced a different bill that is less aggressive. It lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator’s line of sight, or above 400 ft high. Otherwise, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones.
At the recent Indiana/Illinois Farm Show, there was big interest in drones. Agricultural applications of UAV technology are taking place in Canada and Europe because drone use is not illegal. U.S. farmers are being cautious until the FAA creates regulations for commercial use, but several exhibitors at the Show were offering UAVs for sale. At price points between $1,200 and $25,000, growers were advised to start low and evaluate the systems before making large investments.
The “droneport” will have a 50,000 square foot hangar and flight facility for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an upgraded Predator. The Gray Eagle has a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE), which can support various types of fuels. With the hangar will come a 5,000 foot runway, taxiways and aprons. A 1,000 foot runway will be made for the RQ-7 Shadows.
In the spring 2015 semester, Florida State University plans to launch the “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems” course as part of the new Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. It’s part of the University’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMHS) program.
Videos of the Week
A drone’s eye view of an amazing Christmas display shot by Daryl Watkins.
Andrew Cross created a Christmas display video of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens using a DJI Phantom 2 with a 3D gimbal and GoPro 3+, and a Tarot 810 Hexacopter with a gimbaled Sony NEX5T.
This 1/22 scale Airbus is flown indoors. It has a 2 meter wingspan and weighs 284 gms. The fuselage is filled with helium to help keep the weight down.