San Francisco, CA April 4, 2017

At last week’s UAS Symposium in Washington DC, the FAA announced changes to its priorities for UAS rulemaking. The FAA has begun working toward the development of a system called Remote Identification, designed to track aircraft and operators for flights that go beyond the bounds of those which are explicitly allowed by Part 107. The FAA also announced a new UAS Gateway, which will automate the airspace authorization process.

In my last blog post, I predicted that the rulemaking process for operations beyond visual line of sight and operations over people would begin this year. But with Remote Identification now taking priority, these initiatives could be pushed out six months or more. On the plus side, Remote Identification should result in greater security and accountability for drone operations, alleviating two of the primary concerns of drone skeptics. Addressing these now should result in a more smooth and quick integration of commercial drones into the National Airspace System.

The FAA also indicated that although official rulemaking for expanded operations has been delayed, they will use the existing waiver system to approve expanded operations for companies that prove their safety cases. For years, Airware has leveraged regulatory avenues like this to help customers gain access to operations that benefit their business.

The FAA also announced new tools that will streamline the process for requesting airspace authorizations and waivers. The Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability (LAANC) will automate the airspace authorization request process by providing airspace maps through third-party providers. All airspace approvals, UAS registrations, and other waivers will be consolidated into a UAS Gateway that will be managed by the FAA.

This will provide long-awaited relief to a bottleneck in drone operations approvals for metropolitan areas near large airports. LAANC will enable instant approval for enterprises and operators to fly in certain airspace, replacing the current process, which can take up to four weeks to receive approval or denial. This new system will provide a huge benefit to commercial drone customers, by enabling a much greater volume of flights in controlled airspace with near instant approval.

The FAA has made it clear that these new policies will be developed as a collaboration between government and industry. We look forward to working with the FAA to ensure the regulatory landscape for commercial drones enables safe, secure and effective operations.

(Image attributed to Matthew G. Bisanz, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.)

Dave Buhrman

Dave is the Regulatory Lead at Airware, handling all regulatory matters within the company, including operational approvals and compliance. He is also involved in forward-looking organizations and research, like ASTM, NASA UAS Traffic Management, AUVSI, and FAA UAS Test Site operations. Dave also supports the integration team in flight testing and operations. He received his B.S in Physical Science at the University of Maryland, and an M.AS in Aeronautical Science with a specialization in unmanned aircraft systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Outside of work, Dave maintains his favorite childhood hobby flying Radio Control aircraft, and when he can afford it, full-scale aircraft. He also enjoys playing guitar, golf, ultimate frisbee, and camping.

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