Friday, December 30, 2016

FAA Passes Milestone Date for Drone Registration

The Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA")  has just celebrated a milestone date in the regulatory history of small UAS.  It has been one year since the FAA’s  web-based drone registration system went online.  As of December 21, 2015, the FAA required all owners of model aircraft, small unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as "drones", or other remote controlled  aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register online before taking to the skies.

The online registration rules  require drone owners thirteen (13) years and older to submit their name, email and home address to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This Certificate  includes a unique identification number owners must affix to any drone they own and operate exclusively for recreation.

The FAA has reported that, during the last year, the system has registered more than 616,000 owners and individual drones.

The FAA stated that the rule and the registration system were primarily aimed at the thousands of drone hobbyists who had little or no experience with the U.S. aviation system. The agency saw registration as an excellent way to give them a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions as the agency incorporates drones into the National Airspace System.   

The FAA developed the web-based registration system to make the process easier for first-time users compared with the traditional paper-based “N-number” registration system which is still utilized for aircraft in excess of 55 pounds.  Then and now, hobbyists pay a $5.00 fee and receive a single identification number for all the drones they own.

Registration is valid for three years. Once registered, owners are  able to access the registration website to update the information provided to register the aircraft as well as cancel registration as circumstances require (e.g., aircraft destruction, transfer, sale, change in owner eligibility to register).

The web-based UAS registration database is not searchable by the public at this time.  The FAA and the FAA contractor who maintain the website and database are able to see the data that a registrant enters, but no  member of the public can access that personal information.  Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data.

Failure to register an aircraft can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment up to three years.

Happy Anniversary, UAS Registration requirements!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Requirements for Becoming a Small UAS Pilot

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new comprehensive regulations went into effect on August 29, 2016  for routine non-recreational  use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) – more popularly known as “drones.”  The key element to this new part 107 to CFR Title 14 is to allow commercial operation of sUAS.  The FAA states in the Final Rule that “This Part 107 small UAS rule is an “enabling rule,” which effectively reduces the cost of entry into the non-recreational, non-hobby (or “commercial”) market for UAS services.”

A major requirement  of the new rules is that a sUAS must operated by a person who has previously obtained a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating issued by the FAA prior to sUAS operation.

The FAA has established specific requirements for the pilot certification process so that a person can act as a remote pilot in control (“PIC”)   of a sUAS.  Just like a manned-aircraft PIC, the remote PIC of an sUAS is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that UAS. The remote PIC will have final authority over the flight.

A person acting as a remote PIC of an sUAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) under part 107 must obtain a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating issued by the FAA prior to sUAS operation. The remote PIC must have this certificate easily accessible during flight operations. Guidance regarding remote pilot certification is found in Chapter 6, Part 107 Subpart C, Remote Pilot Certification and on the FAA website.

The FAA summarizes the requirements for becoming a first time pilot pursuant to Part 107 as follows:

Aeronautical Knowledge Tests (Initial and Recurrent). It is important to have and retain the knowledge necessary to operate a small UAS in the NAS. This aeronautical knowledge can be obtained through self-study, taking an online training course, taking an in-person training course, or any combination thereof. The FAA has published the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Certification Standard ( that provides the necessary reference material.
Note: The below information regarding initial and recurrent knowledge tests apply to persons who do not hold a current part 61 airman certificate.

First-Time Pilots
To become a pilot you must:
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test – initial knowledge test areas include:
  1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
  2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
  3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
  4. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
  5. Emergency procedures
  6. Crew resource management
  7. Radio communication procedures
  8. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
  9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
  10. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
  11. Airport operations
  12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedure

The FAA provides a list of suggested study materials  on its website at
The materials are comprehensive and include knowledge test sample questions.

Remote piloting of an sUAS is a serious responsibility, as the foregoing demonstrates.   

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NetMoby, Inc., Files A Petition For Reconsideration of New Part 107 sUAS Rules

NetMoby, Inc., through its counsel, Robert E. Kelly, Esq., on August 23, 2016, has submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) a  Petition For Reconsideration pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 553  in reply to the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation’s Final Rule in Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 81 FR 42063 (June 28, 2016),   Docket No. FAA-2015-0150 (FAA Final Rule”).  NetMoby filed comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) in Docket No. FAA-2015-0150 on April 24, 2015, and thus had standing to file its  Petition for Reconsideration.   NetMoby asked  for reconsideration specifically of the provision of the FAA Final Rule  which prohibits  the use of small UAS (“sUAS”) from transportation of property for compensation or hire between locations within the District of Columbia.  The FAA’s adoption of this regulation for sUAS  will most likely bar the use of sUAS from transportation of property for compensation or hire between locations within the District of Columbia permanently, while the rest of the United States (and the world) develops an industry that will rival the current standard aviation industry.   As a company incorporated in the District of Columbia, which has previously been awarded a waiver  pursuant to Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95 (P.L. 112-95), in  Exemption No. 16314, Regulatory Docket No. FAA–2015–7428,  NetMoby will be directly and adversely affected by the adoption of this provision of the Final Rule. 
The exclusion of the District of Columbia in the new rules from transportation of property for compensation or hire between locations within the District of Columbia is arbitrary and capricious.  It is based on the initial rules governing commercial aviation, which were first promulgated in 1958, at the dawn of the modern aviation industry and well before the invention of sUAS.  It is an anachronism carried over from the regulatory stage when the rules governing air transport were revised in 1994, still decades before sUAS were contemplated as being integrated into the National Airspace System (NAS).  
            NetMoby believes the FAA’s imposition of this prohibition on transportation of property for compensation or hire between locations within the District of Columbia i is an arbitrary and capricious decision resulting from an entire absence of reasoned decisionmaking and must be reversed.  The citizens of the District of Columbia must be allowed to participate in the development of the enormous,  world-wide UAS  industry and the economic benefits thereof, particularly when the prohibition  is based on no sound legal basis and is not only anachronistic and arbitrary and capricious but also discriminatory.  
            For a copy of NetMoby, Inc.’s a  Petition For Reconsideration, please contact Robert E. Kelly, Esq., at

Monday, July 4, 2016

In Landmark Action, FAA Releases New Rules for Commercial UAS Operation

In a landmark event, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2016 (81 FR 42063) a Final Rule entitled "Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems" that amends FAA regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS).
This rule finalizes the notice of proposed rulemaking entitled Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systemsin Docket No. FAA-2015-0150, 80 Fed. Reg. 9,544 (February 23, 2015).  This rule will add a new part 107 to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) to allow for routine civil operation of small UAS (i.e., drones) in the NAS and to provide safety rules for those operations.

The key element to this new part 107 to CFR Title 14 is to allow commercial operation of Small UAS.  The FAA states in the Final Rule that “This Part 107 small UAS rule is an “enabling rule,” which effectively reduces the cost of entry into the non-recreational, non-hobby (or “commercial”) market for UAS services.”

Other key elements are as follows:
•Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
•Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in Command and the  person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS.
•Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons  not directly participating in the operation
•Daylight -only operations.
•Must yield right of way to other aircraft.(see-and- avoid”  requirement)
•Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
•Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.
•Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed under certain circumstances.  Note: No transportation of property for compensation or hire is allowed between the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia. See 49 U.S.C. 40102 (a) (25).
•a remote pilot in command must operate a small UAS and must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under  the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote  pilot certificate (remote pilot in command),
•Part 107 does not apply  to model aircraft that satisfy all of  the criteria specified in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
• Part 107 codifies the FAA’s enforcement authority in Part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

See a copy of the complete FAA Summary of Part 107 here.

The Final Rule is effective August 29, 2016. 

A more detailed analysis of the Final Rule will follow in future posts.