The proposed rule would require an operator to maintain
visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would
allow, but not require, an operator to work with a
visual observer who would maintain constant visual
contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need
to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except
for glasses). The FAA is asking for comments on whether
the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight,
and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,”
said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to
maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety
without placing an undue regulatory burden on an
Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a
small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have
to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical
knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator
certificate. To maintain certification, the operator
would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24
months. A small UAS operator would not need any further
private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot
license or medical rating).
The new rule also proposes operating limitations
designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people
and property on the ground:
- A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned
aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS
operator must be the first to maneuver away.
- The operator must discontinue the flight when
continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people
- A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions,
airspace restrictions and the location of people to
lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
- A small UAS may not fly over people, except those
directly involved with the flight.
- Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no
faster than 100 mph.
- Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and
restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary
Flight Restrictions (TFRs).
The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition
against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It
also would bar an operator from allowing any object to
be dropped from the UAS.
Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft
is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that
small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness
standards or aircraft certification. For example, an
operator would have to perform a preflight inspection
that includes checking the communications link between
the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with
FAA-certificated components also could be subject to
agency airworthiness directives.
The new rules would not apply to model aircraft.
However, model aircraft operators must continue
to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of
Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they
be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.
Generally speaking, the new rules would not apply to
government aircraft operations, because we expect that
these government operations will typically continue to
actively operate under the Certificate of Waiver or
Authorization (COA) process unless the operator opts to
comply with and fly under the new small UAS regulations.
addition to this proposal, earlier today, the White
House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning
transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights,
and civil liberties protections for the Federal
Government’s use of UAS in the national airspace system
which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder
engagement process to develop a framework for privacy,
accountability, and transparency issues concerning
commercial and private UAS use. The current unmanned
aircraft rules remain in place until the FAA implements
a final new rule.