The FAA’s proposed rule on commercial small remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) is a good first step, according to officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
“Our top priority throughout all these discussions … has been maintaining safety for the pilots and passengers using the national airspace system,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Those who fly aircraft already have a tremendous responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft and aerial vehicles. It is common sense to require that emerging technologies use the airspace in the same way, without putting extra burdens on the traffic that is already there.”
The proposed rules would require the RPA operators to be at least 17 years old and pass an FAA-administered knowledge test every two years to receive the agency’s UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) Operator Certificate with a proper rating.
A RPA would be required to give the right-of-way to manned aircraft and operate during daylight hours only, at speeds less than 100 mph and altitudes below 500 feet above ground level. In addition, they could not operate over people except those involved in the flight.
“We are pleased that the FAA has moved forward with this proposed rule, which will eliminate much confusion about UAS in that community and within aviation,” Elliott said. “The increased number of encounters between pilots and UAS show the necessity for these rules.”
Public comments will be accepted on the FAA’s formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for 60 days. EAA will make formal comments on the proposal prior to the deadline.
EAA had already been involved with the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the RPA industry in a “Know Before You Fly” education campaign that was introduced last month in several locations, including the AMA convention in California.
EAA is also featuring RPA activities as part of its EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in in July at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.