A Bit of Insight on The FAA Regulation Proposal for sUASs

Last month, the FAA proposed a framework of regulations to allow the integration of sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) into the U.S. aviation system. That’s great news because it’s a step forward in providing you and us with a proper set of rules to facilitate the development of drone usage. We thought it was a good opportunity to give everyone some insight on how these regulations actually work, so here goes.

First, let us say something a bit unpleasant but very true: drones are potentially harmful because like anything that flies, they can fall. They also have a bad rep because of their military background. That’s just how things are but we’re out there everyday to show the world that this is a flawed preconception. For that matter, we believe regulations are extremely important because they provide us and our community of drone users with a framework to showcase the best things one can accomplish with UASs. We also believe that we have a role to play as a manufacturer to provide a safe experience and we are being very active on the safety front.

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The proposal the FAA just released deals with non-hobby and non-recreational use of sUAS, a category that’s relevant for professional using larger types of drones, when HEXO+ for instance falls into the model aircraft category. To be considered as a model aircraft you need to:

  • Fly the aircraft strictly for hobby or recreational use,
  • Use an aircraft that weighs less than 55 lbs / 25 kg
  • Operate your UAS without interfering with any manned aircraft
  • Give way to any manned aircraft
  • Operate away from populated areas
  • Operate near spectators only when the aircraft has been successfully flight tested
  • Fly below 400 ft / 120 m and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep your UAS within visual line of sight at all times
  • Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower beforehand
  • Do not fly near stadiums

In case you plan on using HEXO+ for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes (i.e. you’re working), according to the proposal, your usage falls under the FAA’s proposal. There is a subcategory called micro UAS (see p. 9557) for which regulations are different from the ones for UASs over 55 pounds:

  • You can fly over public
  • You don’t need to pass a test in a FAA center but…
  • You still need to register with the TSA and certify that you’ve made yourself familiar with the basic rules of flight operations
  • Your UAS must weigh less than 4.4 lbs (2 kg)
  • Maximum airspeed is restricted to 30 kn / 55 km/h
  • Maximum altitude above ground is 400 ft / 120 m
  • You can only fly within Class G airspace.
  • No autonomous operation permitted
  • No first person view piloting permitted
  • You need to test your UAS is properly working before the flight
  • You can’t operate within 5 miles of an airport
  • You don’t need a liability insurance
  • You can only operate in daylight
  • Your UAS must be made out of frangible materials

The grey area for HEXO+ is when the rule for micro UASs addresses autonomous flight. Specifically it says that ‘the operator would not use automation to control the flight path’ and ‘the operator would maintain manual control of the flight path of the unmanned aircraft at all times’. HEXO+ is a self-flying camera, but we are making sure the user eventually has full control of his drone to stop action, kill motors, land or return to home, which we believe is what’s key in ensuring a safe use. This will be the subject of a future blog post by the way.

That’s what we thought was interesting for you to know. Since we want to provide the FAA with feedback about the proposed rule, I would love to hear from you about what you think your planned usage of your own HEXO+ so that we can make ourselves heard on non-hobby or non-recreational uses of our flying camera.

Thanks,

Antoine, CEO

Comments/Discussions

Antoine
Antoine is a co-founder and our flag-bearing CEO, making sure we know where we're going, we deliver on time and we have the most epic team in the biz. Plus tons of stuff that have to do with management, finances, administration, which most people consider wouldn't consider fun. He does.