The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) this week submitted official comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation in support of Trimble Navigation Limited’s bid to use UAS prior to the finalization of a small UAS rule. The FAA should “promptly grant” this exemption request, look for ways to allow for more commercial use of very small UAS immediately, and continue with rulemaking. The use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for precision agriculture, mining surveys and land mapping will save time, money, and possibly lives, by not jeopardizing a human in a manned aircraft, AUVSI states in its comments.
In an effort to accelerate the commercial use of UAS, the FAA announced in May that it would consider granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS applications under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, exemptions that would allow some industries to fly before the finalization of the small UAS rule. The FAA has received a request for exemption from Trimble Navigation for commercial operation of their UX5 aircraft which weighs less than 6 pounds. AUVSI wrote in its comment:
“Accelerating commercial UAS use will not only help businesses harness the tremendous potential of UAS, they will also help unlock the economic impact and job creation potential of the technology. The FAA should promptly grant this exemption request, look for ways to allow for more commercial use of very small UAS immediately, and get on with rulemaking.
“Trimble’s exemption outlines at least an equivalent level of safety over the use of a manned aircraft and they have adequately addressed the safety requirements in a number of federal aviation regulations. In fact, many of the safety requirements outlined by Trimble mirror what the FAA currently requires public aircraft certificates of authorization (COAs) holders to meet. If the FAA deems these requirements safe for public aircraft, it should do the same for commercial aircraft.
“Although AUVSI applauds the FAA's efforts to consider UAS exemption requests AUVSI remains concerned the FAA is more than three years late in issuing safety regulations for the wide-spread commercial use of small UAS.”
On April 8, 2014, AUVSI and 32 other association representing the manned aviation community, air traffic controllers, and future users of UAS, including agriculture groups, realtors, media organizations, and public safety organizations, sent a letter to the FAA strongly encouraging them to grant exemptions, but to also expedite the public notice and comment for small UAS rulemaking.
The FAA announced that it also will consider regulatory exceptions for other commercial applications including precision agriculture, power line inspections and flare stack inspections. Amazon also recently filed for an FAA exemption to test its announced UAS delivery service and seven production companies have filed for exemptions to use UAS for filmmaking and movie production.