Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or “drones”, offer great promise for a variety of applications in many areas of life and commerce wtih Drone Technology, including opportunities for use by entrepreneurs and companies that rely on aviation as part of doing business. NBAA recently introduced a dedicated web resource to assist business aviation stakeholders seeking information on how small unmanned aircraft systems (s-UAS) may be integrated into their operations.
Available at www.nbaa.org/ops/uas/, this resource covers the latest news regarding the development of this burgeoning industry, as well as NBAA’s work with industry representatives and federal officials to safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).
Despite the potential benefits of UAS in a variety of business aviation applications, NBAA has long maintained that it is imperative that any introduction plan for UAS be thoughtful, deliberative and focused on safety.
This means UAS should not share the same airspace with manned aircraft until they have equivalent certification and airworthiness standards as manned aircraft, including the ability to take timely directions from air traffic control, and to sense and avoid other aircraft and UAS.
NBAA has been an active participant throughout this process, and the Association’s concerns were reflected in a long-anticipated notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) released Feb. 15 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and FAA towards adopting a regulatory framework governing the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (s-UAS) weighing less than 55 lbs.
The NPRM proposes to regulate UAS operations under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). NBAA will comment on areas of particular importance to business aviation operators seeking to utilize s-UAS in a variety of commercial roles.
Some of the proposed operating parameters for s-UAS including limiting operations to a maximum operating altitude of 500’ AGL and minimum visibility of 3 miles under VFR daytime (official sunrise to official sunset, local time) conditions. s-UAS operators would also be required to pass an aeronautical knowledge exam and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate, with biennial reexaminations in line with recertification requirements for pilots of manned aircraft
The NPRM also states that s-UAS must remain within visual line of sight of the operator or visual observer at all times, closely enough to be seen with unaided vision other than corrective lenses, and that such unmanned aircraft must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
“The FAA believes that a high level of safety can be achieved under the proposed requirements and the rule will enable the opportunity for the private sector to conduct research and development, develop commercial small UAS businesses, and add a large economic benefit to the U.S.,” said Bob Lamond, NBAA Director, Air Traffic Services & Infrastructure, following release of the NPRM.
Sessions addressing UAS operating protocols and benefits have also played an increasing role at NBAA events, including last year’s NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando, FL. Most recently, a panel of industry experts discussed the business and economic opportunities for UAS, while also identifying challenges that flight departments would face with incorporating UAS into their operations, at NBAA’s 2015 Leadership Conference in Tucson, AZ.