The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted five regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to four companies representing industries that promise to benefit from UAS technology.
Including Woolpert which received two FAA exemptions, the four companies want to fly unmanned systems to perform operations for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. “Unmanned aircraft offer a tremendous opportunity to spur innovation and economic activity by enabling many businesses to develop better products and services for their customers and the American public,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the Dec. 10 announcement. “We want to foster commercial uses of this exciting technology while taking a responsible approach to the safety of America’s airspace.”
The commercial entities that received exemptions are: Trimble Navigation Limited; VDOS Global, LLC; Clayco, Inc.; and Woolpert, Inc. The FAA earlier granted exemptions to seven film and video production companies.
Secretary Foxx found that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The firms also asked the FAA to grant exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates. In their petitions, the firms said they will operate UAS weighing less than 55 pounds and keep the UAS within line of sight at all times.
In granting the exemptions, the FAA considered the operating environments and required certain conditions and limitations to assure the safe operation of these UAS in the National Airspace System. The agency also will issue Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) that mandate flight rules and timely reports of any accident or incidents. “The FAA’s first priority is the safety of our nation’s aviation system,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Today’s exemptions are a step toward integrating UAS operations safely.”
As of Dec. 10, the agency has received 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities. View the FAA’s exemption grants at http://www.faa.gov/uas/legislative_programs/section_333/