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«BILLING CODE 4910-13-P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration Office of the Secretary of Transportation 14 CFR Parts 21, 43, ...»

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Federal Aviation Administration

Office of the Secretary of Transportation

14 CFR Parts 21, 43, 61, 91, 101, 107, 119, 133, and 183

[Docket No.: FAA-2015-0150; Amdt. Nos. 21-99, 43-48, 61-137, 91-343, 101-9, 107-1,

119-18, 133-15, and 183-16]

RIN 2120–AJ60

Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Office of the Secretary of

Transportation (OST), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: The FAA is amending its regulations to allow the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System. These changes address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems and certification of their remote pilots. This rule will also prohibit model aircraft from endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.

DATES: This final rule is effective [INSERT DATE 60 DAYS AFTER DATE OF


ADDRESSES: For information on where to obtain copies of rulemaking documents and other information related to this final rule, see “How To Obtain Additional Information” in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.


For small UAS technical questions concerning this final rule, contact Lance Nuckolls, Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, AFS-400, 470 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Suite 4102, Washington, DC 20024; telephone 1-844-FLY-MYUAS; email UAShelp@faa.gov.

For FAA small UAS policy questions concerning this final rule, contact Everette Rochon, Manager, Commercial Operations Branch, AFS-820, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 55 M Street SE., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20003; telephone 1-844FLY-MYUAS; email UAShelp@faa.gov.


Table of Contents I. Executive Summary A. Purpose of the Regulatory Action B. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action C. Costs and Benefits II. Background A. Authority for this Rulemaking B. Analysis of Public Risk Posed by Small UAS Operations C. Current Statutory and Regulatory Structure Governing Small UAS D. Integrating Small UAS Operations into the NAS through Rulemaking E. Related UAS Integration Initiatives III. Discussion of the Final Rule A. Incremental Approach and Waiver B. Discussion of the Applicable Statutory Framework C. Applicability

1. Transporting Property for Compensation (Air Carrier Operations)

2. International Operations and Foreign-Owned Aircraft

3. Public Aircraft Operations

4. Model Aircraft

5. Moored Balloons, Kites, Amateur Rockets, and Unmanned Free Balloons

6. Current Treatment of UAS and Grandfathering of Section 333 Exemption Holders D. Definitions

1. Control Station

2. Corrective Lenses

3. Unmanned Aircraft

4. Small Unmanned Aircraft

5. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (small UAS)

6. Other Definitions E. Operating Rules

1. Remote Pilot in Command a. Terminology b. Remote Pilot in Command c. Airman Certification Requirement d. Emergency Powers of a Remote Pilot in Command

2. See-and-Avoid and Visibility Requirements a. Visual Line of Sight b. Visual Observer i. Definition of Visual Observer ii. Operational Requirements When Using Visual Observer iii. Optional Use of a Visual Observer iv. No Airman Certification or Required Training of Visual Observer c. Additional Visibility Requirements i. Daytime Operations ii. Weather/Visibility Minimums iii. Yielding Right of Way d. Additional Technology/Conspicuity Requirements i. ADS-B, Transponders, and TCAS ii. Radio Equipment iii. Lighting iv. Conspicuity

3. Containment and Loss of Positive Control a. Confined Area of Operation Boundaries i. Horizontal Boundary and Moving Vehicles ii. Vertical Boundary (Maximum Altitude) b. Mitigating Loss of Positive Control Risk i. Maximum Speed ii. Operating Multiple Unmanned Aircraft iii. Micro UAS iv. Flight Over People v. Preflight Briefing vi. Preflight Assessment of the Operating Area and Ensuring that the Aircraft Poses No Undue Hazard

1. Preflight Assessment of the Operating Environment

2. Undue Hazard if There is a Loss of Control vii. Automation viii. Other Equipage

1. Geo-fencing

2. Flight Termination System

3. Other Technological Equipage

4. External Load and Dropping Objects a. External Load and Towing b. Dropping Objects

5. Limitations on Operations in Certain Airspace a. Operations in Class B, C, D, and lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport b. Operations in Class A airspace c. Prohibited or Restricted Areas d. Areas Designated by Notice to Airmen e. Operations in Class G airspace

6. Inspection, Maintenance, and Airworthiness Directives a. Inspections and Maintenance i. Preflight Check and Maintenance Requirements ii. Discontinuing Flight iii. Control Link Check b. Airworthiness Directives

7. Additional Operating Provisions a. Careless or Reckless Operation b. Drug and Alcohol Prohibition c. Sufficient Power for the small UAS F. Remote Pilot Certificate

1. Use of UAS Experience to Apply for Part 61 Pilot Certificate

2. Remote Pilot Certificate Eligibility and Issuance a. Minimum Age b. English Language Proficiency c. No Airman Medical Certificate Required d. Flight Proficiency and Aeronautical Experience e. Formal Training f. General Requirement for Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test g. General Requirement for Recurrent Aeronautical Knowledge Test h. Pilots with Military Experience i. Credit to Holders of Part 61 Pilot Certificates j. Areas of Knowledge on the Aeronautical Knowledge Tests and Training Courses for Part 61 Pilot Certificate Holders i. Regulations Applicable to Small UAS ii. Airspace Classifications and Operating Requirements, and Flight Restrictions Affecting Small Unmanned Aircraft Operation iii. Obstacle Clearance Requirements iv. Aviation Weather Sources and Effects of Weather on Small Unmanned Aircraft Performance v. Small UAS Loading and Performance vi. Emergency Procedures vii. Crew Resource Management viii. Determining the Performance of the Small Unmanned Aircraft ix. Physiological Effects Of Drugs and Alcohol x. Aeronautical Decision-Making and Judgment xi. Airport Operations xii. Radio Communication Procedures xiii. Other Areas of Knowledge Suggested by The Commenters k. Administration of the Knowledge Tests and Training Courses i. Location of the Knowledge Test and Online Option for Training Course ii. Cheating or Engaging in Unauthorized Conduct iii. Identification of the Test-Taker iv. Retesting After Failure l. Transportation Security Administration Vetting and Process for Issuance i. TSA Vetting and Temporary Remote Pilot Certificates ii. Issuance and Positive Identification

3. Remote Pilot Certificate Denial, Revocation, Suspension, Amendment, and Surrender a. Drugs and Alcohol Violations b. Change of Name c. Change of Address d. Voluntary Surrender of Certificate e. Additional Comments on Remote Pilot Certificate G. Registration and Marking H. Fraud and False Statements I. Oversight

1. Inspection, Testing, and Demonstration of Compliance

2. Accident Reporting J. Statutory Findings

1. Hazard to Users of the NAS or the Public

2. National Security

3. Airworthiness Certification K. Miscellaneous Provisions

1. Mandatory insurance

2. Test Sites

3. Noise and environmental a. The National Environmental Policy Act b. Noise c. Other Environmental Comments

4. Privacy

5. First Amendment a. First Amendment Law in the United States b. Restrictions on Speech in a Non-Public Forum c. Incidental Restrictions on Speech d. Time, Place, Manner Restrictions on Speech

6. Preemption

7. Agricultural Operations

8. Miscellaneous Comments IV. Regulatory Notices and Analyses A. Regulatory Evaluation B. Final Regulatory Flexibility Determination

1. A statement of the need for and objectives of the rule

2. A statement of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a statement of the assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made in the proposed rule as a result of such comments

3. The response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments

4. A description and an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule will apply, or an explanation of why no such estimate is available

5. A description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities which will be subject to the requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report or record

6. A description of the steps the agency has taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which affect the impact on small entities was rejected

6. Describe alternatives considered C. International Trade Impact Assessment D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment E. Paperwork Reduction Act

1. Obtaining a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.


2. Accident Reporting.


3. Emergency Powers

4. Certificate of Waiver

5. Total Annual Burden Estimate F. International Compatibility and Cooperation G. Environmental Analysis H. Regulations Affecting Intrastate Aviation in Alaska V. Executive Order Determinations A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation VI. Additional Information A. Availability of Rulemaking Documents B. Comments Submitted to the Docket C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act List of Abbreviations and Acronyms Frequently Used In This Document AC – Advisory Circular AGL – Above Ground Level ACR – Airman Certification Representative ADS-B – Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast ARC – Aviation Rulemaking Committee ATC – Air Traffic Control CAFTA-DR – Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement CAR – Civil Air Regulation CFI – Certificated Flight Instructor CFR – Code of Federal Regulations COA – Certificate of Waiver or Authorization DPE – Designated Pilot Examiner FR – Federal Register FSDO – Flight Standards District Office ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement NAS – National Airspace System NOTAM – Notice to Airmen NPRM – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board PIC – Pilot in Command Pub. L. – Public Law PMA – Parts Manufacturer Approval TCAS – Traffic Collision Avoidance System TFR – Temporary Flight Restriction TSA – Transportation Security Administration TSO – Technical Standard Order UAS – Unmanned Aircraft System U.S.C. – United States Code I. Executive Summary A. Purpose of the Regulatory Action This rule finalizes the notice of proposed rulemaking entitled Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems 1 (the NPRM). The NPRM proposed operating and certification requirements to allow small unmanned aircraft systems (small UAS) to operate for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. 2 A small UAS consists of a small unmanned aircraft (which, as defined by statute, is an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds 3) and equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. The FAA has accommodated non-recreational small UAS use through various mechanisms, such as special airworthiness certificates, exemptions, and certificates of waiver or authorization (COAs). This rule is the next phase of integrating small UAS into the NAS.

The following are examples of possible small UAS operations that can be

conducted under the framework in this rule:

–  –  –

• Power-line/pipeline inspection in hilly or mountainous terrain;

• Antenna inspections;

80 FR 9544, Feb. 23, 2015.

As used here, “non-hobby and non-recreational purposes” refers to small UAS that are not operated in accordance with section 336 of Public Law 112-95. A discussion of section 336 can be found below in section III.C.4 of this preamble.

Pub. L. 112-95, sec. 331(6).

• Aiding certain rescue operations;

–  –  –

• Wildlife nesting area evaluations.

Because of the potential societally beneficial applications of small UAS, the FAA has been seeking to incorporate the operation of these systems into the national airspace system (NAS) since 2008. In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95). Section 333 of Public Law 112-95 directed the Secretary to determine whether UAS operations posing the least amount of public risk and no threat to national security could safely be operated in the NAS and, if so, to establish requirements for the safe operation of these systems in the NAS, prior to completion of the UAS comprehensive plan and rulemakings required by section 332 of Public Law 112-95.

On February 23, 2015, as part of its ongoing efforts to integrate UAS operations in the NAS and in accordance with section 333 of Public Law 112-95, the FAA issued the NPRM proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small UAS in the NAS. Over 4,600 public comments were submitted in response to the NPRM.

The FAA has considered the comments, and now issues this final rule to integrate small UAS into the NAS.

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