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Hanga Talk


More than 1,000 Waivers Granted to Operate Beyond FAA’s Small UAS Rule


The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recently released a report that analyzes waivers granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flights beyond the parameters of the small UAS rule (Part 107). In the first year of this process, more than 1,000 operators have received waivers. The report shows that most of the waivers allow pilots to operate UAS at night, which is not permitted under the current rule.


Part 107 to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations created a uniform regulatory framework for UAS. Among the rule’s requirements, UAS must fly below 400 feet, within visual line of sight and during daylight hours. However, Part 107 also established a waiver process for UAS operators to request permission from the FAA to fly outside the permitted standards, if it can be done safely. Since Part 107 went into effect one year ago this week, operators in 47 states have used the waivers to broaden the capabilities of their UAS and the commercial services they offer.


“The demand for Part 107 waivers demonstrates that we are at the dawn of a new American renaissance in aviation and technology, one that deserves government attention and support to help the UAS industry reach its full potential,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Establishing regulations for expanded UAS operations – such as those already being conducted safely under the rule – rather than granting permission on a case-by-case basis will allow more U.S. businesses to reap the benefits of UAS and help facilitate the future of commerce.”


U.S. Customs and Border Protection to Test Small UAS in Arizona, Texas, and Vermont


As a part of a pilot program that started in September 2017, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) will begin evaluating small UAS (sUAS) in the operational environment.


The majority of waivers (89%) have authorized operations at night, followed by operations in certain airspace (9%) and the simultaneous operation of multiple UAS.


According to AUVSI’s report, the FAA has granted 1,074 waivers as of the end of July 2017. In addition to nighttime operations (959 waivers), the FAA has granted waivers to fly in certain airspace (96 waivers), operate multiple UAS at the same time (17 waivers), fly beyond line of sight (four waivers), and conduct flights over people (three waivers).


During the pilot, three series of fixed-wing and rotorcraft sUAS — the Puma, Raven, and InstantEye Quadcopter — will be operationally tested in three USBP sectors, starting in Tucson, Arizona, and then transitioning to Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and Swanton, Vermont later this year.


“We anticipate the sUAS program to be a valuable tool for Border Patrol’s highly trained law enforcement personnel in securing our borders and helping identify and intercept illicit activity along U.S. borders,” says Carla Provost, acting chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.


Using the remotely piloted small UAS, Border Patrol agents in the field will have access to “reconnaissance, intelligence,


32 Sep/Oct 2017


Operators granted waivers were evaluated for the services they offer. Aerial photography is the most popular, representing 79 percent of the operators granted waivers, followed by real estate (56 percent), aerial inspection (50 percent), construction (47 percent) and infrastructure inspection/survey (43 percent). Approximately 85 percent of the waivers went to small businesses.


Earlier this year, AUVSI convened a Remote Pilots Council (RPC) composed of the association’s members from across the country to provide feedback to the FAA on real-world UAS operations and offer suggestions for greater efficiency in the waiver process. RPC members have helped identify operational challenges and potential solutions through UAS regulation as businesses continue to adopt the technology.


“Industry-government collaboration has gotten us to this point, and AUVSI and its members are dedicated to continue the conversation on how to further integrate UAS into the airspace,” Wynne said. “The UAS industry is projected to create more than 100,000 jobs and provide more than $82 billion in economic impact over the next decade. With an expanded regulatory framework, these numbers could go even higher.”


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