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December 2017 - Just in the last few weeks, the FAA opened a draft advisory circular (AC) for public comment. It calls attention to regulatory necessities, suggested operations, and communications actions for operating at an airfield lacking a control tower or an airport with a control tower that works only part-time. This AC recommends traffic patterns, communications phraseology, and operational procedures for use by aircraft and addresses many fascinating subjects and nontowered airport areas of operation.

This new version also covers unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones. This new version of the AC, 90-66B proposes that drones “do not require permission or authorization to operate at an uncontrolled airport, nor are they required to maintain radio communications with other aircraft. However, the remote pilot in command (PIC) must always yield right-of-way to a manned aircraft and not interfere with manned aircraft operations.” According to the AC, “A manned aircraft may alter its flight path, delay its landing, or take off to avoid an unmanned aircraft that may present a potential conflict or otherwise affect the safe outcome of the flight.”

Because remote PICs must yield the right of way to all other aircraft and avoid interfering in traffic pattern operations, the FAA hopes that most drone pilots will not operate in the locality of nontowered airfields because their aircraft generally do not require airport infrastructure.

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