Government wheels are moving slowly, far slower than the pace at which modern technology is developing. Therefore, it is not uncommon for laws and regulations to lag far behind the technology they want to govern with. This can lead to a kind of "Wild West" that can be considered good or bad depending on the side of the fence you are on.
In the United States, it is fair to say that we have officially moved past the "Wild West" phase when it comes to drone regulation. This does not mean that remote control (RC) aircraft were previously unregulated, but that the rules that governed them simply could not keep up with the rapid development of technology in recent years. The earlier FAA provisions for remote-controlled aircraft were written at a time when RC flights were slower and slower, and long before the far-end video technology had moved the operator out of sight of their aircraft.
Not Just Attacking the Top Due to the ability of RC aircraft, but their popularity, the Federal Aviation Administration eventually received the authority to repeal Section 336 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, called Unmanned Aerial Systems ( UAS), to supervise. Section 336, known as The "Special Rule for Aircraft Models" was previously introduced to ensure that the FAA's powers were limited to "real" aircraft and that small RC hobby aircraft are not subjected to the same test as their original sized aircraft. If Section 336 no longer exists, the new FAA Guidelines could be interpreted to mean that manned and unmanned aerial vehicles and their operators comply with the same standards. an unreasonable position that many hated strongly in the hobby.
The FAA then argued that the repeal of section 336 would allow them to create new UAS regulations from a position of strength. In other words, start with hard limits and regulations and start shutting them down until a balance is found that everyone is happy with. US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao has revealed that the first of these more refined rules is being worked on, and although they are not yet official, the FAA seems to stick to its word of finding a reasonable middle ground for hobby leaflets.
Proposed Rule Changes
Current FAA rules prohibit flying a UAS or drone over people or at night, unless you request a special waiver of Part 107. To the FAA's thanks, they have drone pilots who are sensible Applications, exemptions, as shown by the public list of exemptions granted. But as one might expect from the federal government, this is still a cumbersome process. Not only can the review of your application last up to 90 days, but most applications for waivers are, according to the FAA, contradicted for lack of necessary information.
The proposed new rules would allow flights at night and over people without going through the waiver process if other conditions are met. These rules would not replace exceptions, but would provide a different way forward for those who want (or can) meet the requirements. This differentiated approach means that exemptions can still be granted for one-time events or experiments, but those who want to fly regularly at night or over people have a more permanent option.
Above all the choice is always a good thing when it comes to hobbyists or experimenters. If the official route to these restricted flights is too difficult or too expensive for the individual, he can at least apply for a waiver on a case-by-case basis. So the only question is what exactly the requirements would be under the proposed changes.
For night flight, the operator must pass a recognized night flight knowledge test and the UAS itself must have a visible anti-collision light. The information for this test, such as brochures and training videos, is provided free of charge on the FAA website. The only requirement for the anti-collision light is that it is visible for three miles.
According to the draft version of the new rules, some more complex lighting requirements have been considered, such as strobes or multicolor navigation lights, but eventually they have been found to be an unreasonable burden. It is expressly noted that the size and limited battery capacity of small drones make it inappropriate to require manufacturers to include complex lighting systems. Interestingly, the three meter long visible anti-collision light is the same requirement that is imposed on ultra-light aircraft B. larger commercial drones), so there are already small, commercially available LED modules that are FAA certified to meet this requirement fulfill. Retrofitting this equipment to remote-controlled aircraft should not be a major problem and it is difficult to talk about the need for a clearly visible anti-collision light for an object flying around at night.
Flying Over People
The proposed rules for flying People are much more complex because the FAA wants to categorize the UAS by probability so as to potentially cause bodily injury in a collision. This not only takes into account the weight, but also design elements such as exposed propellers. The FAA recommendations go so far that manufacturers of larger drones must use functions such as crumple zones to reduce the kinetic energy of potential impacts.
This classification system will put pressure on commercial manufacturers It seems likely that only the most expensive turnkey drones are likely to have the necessary security features to be eligible for regular passenger flights. If you are in an industry where you need this capability (filmmakers, sports coverage, news, etc.), you should consider this when purchasing your next aerial photography platform.
Fortunately for hobbyists and other hackers These requirements only come into effect when the drone weighs more than 250 grams. With these proposed rule changes, people below or above this weight can freely skim over people without design recommendations or additional requirements. Since weight reduction in the world of hobby quadcopter has been known for some time, many very powerful designs are well below the 250 gram threshold. Considering that the flight of any drone over people without prior FAA approval is illegal, this is probably a very popular change.
Over the last five In some Years ago, we experienced a dizzying array of new rules and regulations for small unmanned aerial vehicles. It is at the point that those who are interested in the hobby could be intimidated and lose interest. When you consider how quickly the media deals with negative "drone" stories, it's hard to blame them. Nobody wants to be arrested because he flew a quadrocopter in his backyard because he did not file the documents.
But with luck and some input from the community, we might see the light at the end of the tunnel. These proposed rule changes appear, at least superficially, to be a reasonable solution for two very common scenarios in which the average remote operator can be located. Hopefully, future refinements to the FAA's drone rules will continue to make a clear distinction between hobby and commercial operators. Streamlining the process for leisure pilots.