ALERT: The new Small UAS Rule (Part 107), including all pilot and operating rules, is in effect as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on August 29, 2016.  See the FAA Advisory Circular 107-2 which
provides guidance for conducting sUAS operations in the NAS in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107 here

On March 9, 2016, U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chair and ranking member of the Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, are original co-sponsors on the legislation. The full committee will mark up the bill on Wednesday, March 16. See a detailed summary of the legislation here and the full text of the bill here

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced on December 14, 2015, a streamlined web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.
Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft including model aircraft. Under this Interim Final Rule (“IFR”) rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system. Owners using the new streamlined web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register.
In developing the IFR, the DOT has considered the public comments regarding UAS registration received in response to the Operation and Certification of Small UAS NPRM, the Request for Information published in the Federal Register on October 22, 2015, and the recommendations from the UAS Registration Task Force. In addition, the DOT will consider additional comments received following publication of this IFR and make any necessary adjustments in the final rule.
See FAA Press Release with a link to the Federal Register publication of the IFR here.



On September 2, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57A - Model Aircraft Operating Standards, presumably in response to the numerous and well-publicized incidents of UAS crashes in public spaces like the United States Tennis Open in Flushing Meadows, New York.  The Advisory Circular provides guidance to persons operating Unmanned Aircraft (UA) for hobby or recreation purposes meeting the statutory definition of "model aircraft" contained in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The AC describes means by which model aircraft may be operated safely in the National Airspace System (NAS). Nothing in this AC changes the requirement to comply with the statute or any applicable regulations.  See the text of the Advisory Circular 91-57A here. 

8/24/15: Pilot reports of drone sightings so far this year are more than double last year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, raising concern about the potential for a deadly collision.
There have been more than 650 reports this year through Aug. 9 by pilots of drones flying near manned aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Thursday. There were 238 unmanned aircraft sightings in all of 2014.
Pilots of a variety of different types of aircraft – including many large, commercial air carriers – reported spotting 16 unmanned aircraft in June of 2014, and 36 the following month. This year, 138 pilots reported seeing drones at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet during the month of June, and another 137 in July.
See the link here

8/1/15: Amazon, in conjunction with NASA, this week released its white paper proposing the creation of separate layers of permitted flight use for UAS below 500 feet above ground to allow what it believes to be the safest and most efficient environment for future UAS operations in the civil airspace. See the link here.

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