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Old Mar 10, 2008, 09:35 AM
Chris Anderson
San Francisco/Bay Area
Joined Mar 2007
939 Posts
FAQ
Regulatory FAQ

[These are Frequently Asked Questions about the current state of UAV regulation in the US. If there are changes and updates not reflected here, please suggest corrections or modifications in the comments and we'll edit accordingly.]

Q: Are UAVs legal in the United States?

A: Under certain conditions, they are. There are two ways to legally fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the "National Airspace", which is to say all but certain restricted areas: 1) Get a Certificate of Authorization (COA) or Experimental Airworthyness Certificate (EAC) from the FAA, a process that can take months or more. 2) Fly under exemptions granted to non-commercial ("recreational") flyers who adhere to certain restrictions.

Q) What are those restrictions for non-commercial UAVs flying without a COA?

A: You MUST do the following: 1) Stay below 400ft. 2) Stay within line of sight. 3) Maintain a "pilot in control", which is to say that you must always be able to take manual control and fly the aircraft out of danger. 4) Stay away from built-up areas. More detail is here.

Q) Who can apply for a COA?


A: Typically only government agencies (Law enforcement, Civil government, etc). This is not an option for a private individual.

Q) I've heard that the FAA doesn't allow unmanned aircraft with cameras and/or GPS. True?


A) No. Commercial use of aircraft with cameras is regulated as above, but aircraft flying under the recreational exemption may use cameras and GPS.


Q) What countries have more relaxed UAV regulations?


A) Australia and New Zealand are famously progressive in their UAV policies. Other countries, such as Mexico, have been know to be relatively friendly, too.

Q) What are the prospects for FAA regulations that allow amateur UAVs more freedom?


A) There is currently a rulemaking proceeding that aims to improve the regulations on UAVs. It will take a while; indeed, you shouldn't hope for anything before 2010-2012. There may be a special category for UAVs under 4 pounds, which may be more lightly regulated. But then again there may not. It's all up in the air, so to speak, and the forces that oppose amateur or commercial UAVs in the National Airspace are many and powerful. Speak up!

Q) What about universities and other students. Any exemptions for them?

A) Not automatically. But they may be able to get COAs more easily if they are federally funded and go through that agency.

Q) What if I break the rules?

A) Well, for starters, we don't want to hear about it here! We realize, of course, that people break the rules all the time on the assumption that if they use good judgment and stay away from built-up areas, they won't be caught. That may indeed be the case, but it will only take one cowboy flying a UAV into an airport landing zone and endangering civil aviation to set our hobby back by decades. So please don't do it! (Plus you could go to jail)

Q) Okay, I'm obeying all the rules. Are there any other guidelines for safe and responsible UAV operations?

A) Yes. RCAPA (the RC aerial photography association) has some excellent guidelines that are a great place to start.
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Last edited by zlite; Apr 10, 2008 at 03:24 AM.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 10:23 AM
Registered User
Near Austin
Joined Dec 2001
5,398 Posts
Good swipe at it Zlite! Just wanted to add alittle to it.....


Quote:
Originally Posted by zlite
Q: Are UAVs legal in the United States?

A: Under certain conditions, they are. There are two ways to legally fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the "National Airspace", which is to say all but certain restricted areas: 1) Get a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA, a process that can take months or more. 2) Fly under exemptions granted to non-commercial ("recreational") flyers who adhere to certain restrictions.
Clarification : Only government agencies (Law enforcement, Civil government, Agencies) may apply for Certificate of Waiver/Authority. This is not an option for a private individual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zlite
Q) What countries have more relaxed UAV regulations?[/b]

A) Australia and New Zealand are famously progressive in their UAV policies. Other countries, such as Mexico, have been know to be relatively friendly, too.
There might be some Ozzies and Kiwis that would disagree with this. Apparently the fee structure is quite high and many hoops have to be jumped thru.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zlite

Q) What are the prospects for FAA regulations that allow amateurs UAV more freedom?


A) There is currently a rulemaking proceeding that aims to improve the regulations on UAVs. It will take a while; indeed, you shouldn't hope for anything before 2010-2012. There may be a special category for UAVs under 4 pounds, which may be more lightly regulated. But then again there may not. It's all up in the air, so to speak, at the moment, and the forces that oppose amateur or commercial UAVs in the National Airspace are many and powerful. Speak up!
This is imperative! Write your congressman, senator, lobbiest or whoever else you might know that can influence this. The large contractors want this slice of the pie all to themselves. They have the money and are deeply entrenched in the goverment. The power of your voice should NOT be underestimated. A concerted unified effort is even better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zlite
Q) What about universities and other students. Any exemptions for them?

A) Not automatically. But they may be able to get COAs more easily.
Universities do not meet the rule of "government entity" but they are developing and flying UAs with impunity. The FAA has a difficult time enforcing the regs they have in place, much less new ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zlite
Q) What if I break the rules?

A) Well, for starters, we don't want to hear about it here! We realize, of course, that people break the rules all the time on the assumption that if they use good judgment and stay away from built-up areas, they won't be caught. That may indeed be the case, but it will only take one cowboy flying a UAV into an airport landing zone and endangering civil aviation to set our hobby back by decades. So please don't do it! (Plus you could go to jail)
The FAA can empower any law enforcement agency to sieze and arrest an individual and his equipment. This would likely not happen unless the very unfortunate last part of your statement take place. Then you are correct. The ONLY people allowed to do it would be the large contractors and the edu's in a VERY controlled environment.

This will be a long row to hoe.....

Gene
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 10:24 AM
SlowStick Test Pilot
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Yumastan RCAPA.NET
Joined Feb 2003
5,886 Posts
Zlite,

Thatís a good start, but let me add


COAís and Experimental certís are not viable for any commercial operations, or small operators without public entity sponsorship. If you can get a Federal level entity to sponsor you, they can write you an airworthiness statement. You can also go to NMSU or Dryden and use their airspace (terms and conditions apply).

The rest of this gets very cloudy and legalities depend on who you ask. Some would say to fly for ďrecreation useĒ one would have to adhere to the AMA Safety code, FPV, beyond visual line of sight and autonomous flight aids fall outside of said code.(last time I checked.)

Universities are not exempt.

As far as the Australian policy being progressive I would agree in that it serves as a model for the U.S. and lack of policy.

While the rulemaking and Aviation Rulemaking committee sound good they are moving at a snails pace. The much lauded ARC process still doesnít have a signed letter of intent after 10 months or more.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 10:35 AM
Registered User
Near Austin
Joined Dec 2001
5,398 Posts
hehehe.... beat ya to the ENTER key by a minute, Patrick
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 11:00 AM
Registered User
Joined Nov 2005
41 Posts
The power limits noted for the Wireless Communications section (1W) are for Spread Spectrum transmitters. If operating other types of wireless equipment, such as analog video transmitters which are generally not spread spectrum, other (lower) power limits may be in place. Check the FCC part 15 rules for your situation.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 03:27 PM
zik
Autopilot guy
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Australia, VIC, Kew
Joined Oct 2006
326 Posts
Great work zlite! It really helps to have all that information in one place.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 10:59 PM
Chris Anderson
San Francisco/Bay Area
Joined Mar 2007
939 Posts
Any objections to me making this sticky?
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 02:54 PM
SlowStick Test Pilot
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Yumastan RCAPA.NET
Joined Feb 2003
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None here
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 09:31 AM
Chris Anderson
San Francisco/Bay Area
Joined Mar 2007
939 Posts
Okay, I'm an idiot: I actually have no idea how to make a thread "sticky"! Is that something only a moderator can do? Who's our moderator?
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 09:39 AM
SlowStick Test Pilot
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Yumastan RCAPA.NET
Joined Feb 2003
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I don't think we have one??? I nominate zlite...,do I hear a second?
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 11:38 AM
hg1
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San Luis Obispo, California
Joined May 2007
312 Posts
Try clicking on "report this port to a moderator". That should get you a fairly fast response.
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 01:07 PM
Chris Anderson
San Francisco/Bay Area
Joined Mar 2007
939 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by hg1
Try clicking on "report this port to a moderator". That should get you a fairly fast response.
Thanks. Done. Now we'll find out who our moderator is (or if we have one at all).
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 04:35 PM
Chris Anderson
San Francisco/Bay Area
Joined Mar 2007
939 Posts
Apparently it's joelhaasnoot. Thanks!

Joel: Have you already introduced yourself on some thread? If not, anything you'd like to say about what the job of moderator entails and your involvement with UAVs? We'd love to put a face to the name...
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 07:20 PM
Oh Noes
South Australia
Joined May 2006
22 Posts
Heres a little bit I found for australian UAV pilots

"UAV and Insurance
CASR Part 101 has been operating for some time and there still appears to be a little confusion as to the difference between a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and a Model Aircraft. According to the C.A.S.A. regulations. A model aircraft is used for sport and the pleasure of flying it. A miniature aircraft that is used, or intending to be used, commercially or for gain is a UAV. The only exception to this is the use of a model aircraft commercially for pilot training purposes.
If you are using, or intending to use, your model aircraft commercially or for gain, such as aerial photography etc, you are operating a UAV not a model aircraft. Your activities therefore come under the CASA regulations for UAVís. If you work for a company or organization that is using or working on UAVís, then when you fly their UAV it is not a model aircraft, even though at the time you may consider that your are flying it for fun.
It should be noted that autonomous flight of model aircraft is not permitted by the M.A.A.A., see MOP044 Ė Internal Navigation and Stabilisation, and therefore would also not be covered by the M.A.A.A. Insurance policies.
The M.A.A.A. insurance policy is specifically for model aircraft as defined by C.A.S.A. regulations and M.A.A.A. Manual of Procedures. Therefore, any M.A.A.A. Affiliate Member flying or dealing with a UAV or autonomous model aircraft is definitely not covered by the M.A.A.A. Insurance policies. Any activity involving UAVís or autonomous model aircraft at an M.A.A.A. Affiliate Club is also not covered by the M.A.A.A. Insurance policies. Therefore it is highly recommended that if a club wishes to allow its facilities to be used or hired for the flying of UAVís or autonomous model aircraft a condition of the hire/use should be that M.A.A.A. Affiliate Members should not be allowed access to the flying site. This is to ensure that any insurance claim that may arise from the activity cannot involve the M.A.A.A. policies.
It is also highly recommend if clubs wish to allow the operation of UAVís or autonomous model aircraft at the facility the committee should obtain proof of insurance cover and a signed statement that the UAV operators were wholly and totally responsible for any claim arising during their operation at the flying site. Clubs should also be aware that if their lease with their land owner is for the flying of model aircraft, if UAV are allowed to be flown you may be invalidating you field lease"
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 08:03 PM
SlowStick Test Pilot
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Yumastan RCAPA.NET
Joined Feb 2003
5,886 Posts
Looks like the U.S is leading the way by following the Australians...
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