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Several EAA Recommendations in FAA Final Drone Rule

June 23, 2016 - On Tuesday, the FAA released its final rule regarding commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as “drones.” The new rulemaking package, which will be contained in Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, covers the certification and operation of commercial drones as well as the certification of commercial drone pilots. Though Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft operating under Public Law 112-95, section 336, it reinforces the FAA’s authority when such operations endanger the National Airspace System (NAS).

EAA commented on the commercial drone Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released last February. In those comments, EAA recognized the FAA’s efforts to regulate booming drone operations, but acknowledged certain areas of improvement in the proposal. Namely, the FAA implemented EAA’s recommendation to lower the drone operating ceiling from 500 feet AGL to 400 feet AGL, a limitation that mirrors the model aircraft standards outlined in AC 91-57. EAA also stressed that the line-of-sight operations requirement in the NPRM be maintained and enforced to ensure safe separation between drones and manned aircraft.

Ultimately, EAA believes manned aircraft should always have priority over drones in the NAS. This was the main theme of EAA’s comments to the NPRM, as it is essential to ensuring safe integration of drones. Additionally, EAA believes the nation’s airspace is a public asset, and therefore should not be split in any way to specifically accommodate drone operations. Finally, no equipment requirements in addition to the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate should come as a result of commercial or recreational drone operations.

EAA appreciates the FAA’s efforts to regulate drones to ensure their safe integration into the NAS. As the FAA works to implement Part 107 in August, EAA will continue to advocate on behalf of its members and the general aviation community as a whole to ensure manned aircraft operations are not compromised by drone integration.

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