April 3, 2014
NAAA Reps Continue Talks with FAA on UAV Safety
NAAA Executive Director Andrew Moore, former NAAA President Scott Schertz and Coordinator of Government and Public Relations Sterling Wiggins met with Jim Williams, Manager of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, last week to discuss the serious safety concerns NAAA members have regarding the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System.
NAAA representatives emphasized that it’s critical that UAVs be, at a minimum, equipped with strobe lights and ADS-B out technology to allow ag aviators to clearly see these low-level obstacles. Williams indicated that he agreed that UAVs present a hazard to low-level aviators, but believed that he could not make an argument for ADS-B equipage of all UAVs without data of near misses and accidents caused by them and model aircraft. Williams said that this is the standard that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would require in order to mandate ADS-B Out equipage of UAVs and ADS-B In equipage of ag aircraft. OMB serves as the clearinghouse for all government regulations and gives the Executive Office of the President a chance to weigh in or block proposals.
Williams also said that in the case of small UAVs operated within line of sight, the FAA intends to place the burden of see-and-avoid on the UAV operators given the small size and maneuverability of the aircraft (in compliance with the general principles outlined in Part 91.113). In the case of larger UAVs and those operated beyond-line-of-sight, Williams said the FAA intends to require all the same airworthiness standards that exist for manned aircraft, including flashing exterior strobe lights. Williams also said that the FAA will not allow beyond line of sight flight until a viable, successful sense-and-avoid system has been developed and approved by the agency.
As for development of a final rule regarding small UAVs (those 55 lbs. or less), Williams said it is slated for a November 2014 release. Williams also indicated that the agency still plans to have the first of the six UAV test sites up and running by June at the latest (likely the North Dakota site), with a May date still possible.
FAA reiterated in its meeting with NAAA that all commercial operations of UAVs, including a farmer’s operation of a UAV to inspect his crop bound for market, remains illegal. NAAA urges all members to report any near misses and/or illegal operation of UAVs to your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). NAAA also requests that you notify the association in order to assist us with gathering data to support our safety arguments, particularly any near-miss incident data. Members are also reminded, as was emphasized by the FAA in the NAAA meeting, to comply with the FARs and operate their aircraft at a minimum altitude of 500 feet AGL when ferrying to ensure they are clear of low-level obstacles and possible UAV activity.
NAAA will continue to reach out to federal officials and push the case for safe UAV integration as the FAA progresses in its implementation plans, and will keep members updated accordingly.
Originally from the NAAA’s website.