From The Editor: FAA Finalizes Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

A 258Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Finally, the big news from the feds that everyone has been waiting for as DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems with disruptive implications for the surveying, mapping and remote sensing professions.

Regulations will create new opportunities for business and government to use drones. According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

On June 21, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace.

The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations. The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. Operations are allowed during daylight and during twilight if the drone has anti-collision lights.

Under the final rule, the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate.

Although the new rule does not specifically deal with privacy issues in the use of drones, and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property, the FAA is acting to address privacy considerations in this area. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing or photogrammetric technology.

The democratization of surveying and mapping being made possible by the proliferation of drones opens the door for anyone to start offering surveying, mapping, photogrammetry services. It is now more important than ever to promote the professionalism of your profession. You have to ask yourself …or ask your clients and potential customers, if they want some millennial type kid with baggy jeans hanging precariously from his hips, a backwards ball cap on his head, skate board in one hand and quad copter in the other …is this really who you want to do your mapping and surveying? All joking aside, it’s a serious matter and one we’ll be dealing with extensively over the next several months.

Roland Mangold //

A 258Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE