NASA, FAA COMPLETE MOST COMPLEX DRONE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT TEST, JUGGLING 22 DRONES AT ONCE

NASA successfully flew 22 drones during a simultaneous testing at FAA test sites across the country. The demonstration, which is the first and largest ever launched, is meant to assess NASA's Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) research platform used in rural operations. "After so much preparation and practice, it was very rewarding to see all test sites have success with weather, platforms and connectivity," said Director of Operations at NUAIR Tony Basile and manager at New York test site."

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FAA Grants Its First Approval for Flights of Commercial Drones at Night

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued the first approval for flights of small commercial drones at night, according to lawyers for the operator, in the latest sign of how quickly U.S. regulators are moving to authorize expanded uses of unmanned aircraft. Responding to pent-up industry demand for more flexible rules, the move will allow the U.S. unit of Toronto-based Industrial Skyworks Inc. to perform nighttime inspections of buildings and roofs with specially equipped drones flown by trained pilots—and under a spate of additional safety conditions.

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FAA amendment could extend UAS test sites by 5 years

The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would extend the authorization of every unmanned aircraft systems test site for an additional five years. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced the amendment. Once approved, the reauthorization bill including the test site authorization amendment, would extend the presence of each test site for another five years after the test sites authorization period expires on September 30, 2017. “The test sites have already made remarkable gains, such as nighttime operations, flying multiple aircraft in the same airspace and researching and testing aircraft up to 1,200 feet,” Hoeven said. “Nevertheless, there’s much left to do, and that will require investment and support from industry partners. Those partners will be much more likely to use the FAA test sites if they can be sure those sites will be operational beyond the end of Fiscal Year 2017.”

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SENATE’S FAA BILL NOW INCLUDES DRONE AMENDMENTS

The Senate voted unanimously to adopt four drone-related amendments toS. 2658, which would re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration through fiscal year 2017.

One of the amendments — all of which were adopted on Monday evening — would establish criminal penalties for the reckless use of drones. That amendment, offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would penalize drone operators who fly near airports without prior approval.

Another amendment, offered by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would extend until 2022 a drone testing program set to expire in 2017, while an amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would specify the FAA’s responsibilities to establish and report on a new approval procedure for drone operators.

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Agriculture drone market set to surge 746%

Think drones are already a red-hot topic in the agriculture industry today? Just wait, according to a report from RnR Market Research. According to the report, the worldwide market for agricultural drones currently sits at $494 million, but RnR expects that amount to balloon to $3.69 billion by 2022. Drones, sensors and other so-called “digital agriculture” tools are in line with consumer trends of demanding end-to-end transparency of how their food is produced, according to lead author of the study, Susan Eustis.

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The Verge: 850 AIRPORTS SIGN UP FOR A DRONE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM

As small drones have become increasingly commonplace, so have reports of close calls by airliners. A recent FAA report tallied the average at four sightings a day, a five-fold increase from the year before. To help address the issue, the American Association of Airport Executives, a trade group representing 850 of the largest airports around the US, has partnered with a startup called AirMap on a Digital Notice and Awareness System, or D-NAS for short. AirMap will collect data from participating pilots flying popular consumer brands like DJI, 3D-Robotics, and Yuneec, then automatically upload that data to a web portal air traffic controllers can access securely.

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FAA PANEL UNVEILS PROPOSALS FOR FLYING DRONES OVER CROWDS

A Federal Aviation Administration panel on Wednesday unveiled highly anticipated safety recommendations for flying small commercial drones over crowds, setting the stage for final regulations on the issue. The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee suggests that micro drones weighing less than a half pound can fly over crowds with very limited restrictions because they have a less than a 1 percent chance of causing serious injuries.

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TechCrunch: DJI, 3DR, Parrot and GoPro form new drone advocacy group

DJI, 3DR, Parrot and GoPro are launching their own drone advocacy group to lobby for “policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.” The Small UAV Coalition, which launched with participation from DJI, 3DR, Amazon Prime Air and others interested in the drone ecosystem, has been one of the main lobbying groups for drone manufacturers since it launched in 2014. Now, however, the logos of DJI, 3DR, Parrot and GoPro are nowhere to be found on the Small UAV Coalition’s member page (which still includes the likes of Google[x], Amazon Prime Air, AirMap, Intel and others).

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FAA Releases 2016 to 2036 Aerospace Forecast

A key portion of the forecast focuses on projections for the growth in the use of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones. The FAA estimates small, hobbyist UAS purchases may grow from 1.9 million in 2016 to as many as 4.3 million by 2020.  Sales of UAS for commercial purposes are expected to grow from 600,000 in 2016 to 2.7 million by 2020.  Combined total hobbyist and commercial UAS sales are expected to rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020.

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State drone laws could clash with federal drone policy

North Dakota prohibits mounting lethal weapons on drones. Arkansas won't allow remote-controlled aircraft to photograph critical buildings such as power plants and oil refineries. Michigan bans using drones for hunting — or to harass hunters. And North Carolina requires commercial drone operators to take a test to ensure they're familiar with the rules of the road.

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National Law Review: House Shelves AIRR Act, Senate to Pursue Own FAA Reauthorization Legislation

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee are moving forward with their own bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation in the coming weeks, after House Leadership shelved the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act amid diverse opposition to its air traffic control (ATC) reform provisions.

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Bloomberg: Will Drones Become the Toast of Napa?

For generations, Napa Valley growers have used workers on foot or tractors to apply nutrients and pesticides to the vines that produce grapes used in some of America’s most storied wines. Now Japan’s Yamaha Motor thinks it has a better way: drones. After testing its helicopter-like RMax for the past two growing seasons, Yamaha in December became the first company to win federal certification for a drone to be used as an agricultural aircraft in the U.S.

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NPR: Rogue Drones? Unleash The Eagles

As recreational use of drones around the world continues to soar, authorities have been forced to get creative with how they deal with drones that fly into restricted airspace. In December, Tokyo police launched a drone designed to take out other drones with a net. In October, British tech companies unveiled a drone "death ray"that can disable drones in midflight.

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The Hill: Drones may have limited range, but regulatory coordination doesn't have to

Former Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.), contributor, and Rod Hall - Safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace is one of the foremost policy challenges of 2016. But while Capitol Hill has largely focused on the regulatory efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), developments overseas will also shape the future of the dynamic UAS industry in the year ahead.

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ATA Comments to the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force on proposed registration of UAS

AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY ALLIANCE

Comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force on proposed registration of UAS

November 13, 2015

The 卫生间被黑人教练玩晕 (ATA) is pleased to offer comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force, and to offer the 卫生间被黑人教练玩晕’s views on how a national UAS registration program should be structured and implemented. The 卫生间被黑人教练玩晕 is pleased that the Task Force will be developing recommendations on a streamlined registration process and minimum requirements on which unmanned aircraft should be registered.

The ATA is a coalition of associations and corporations in the farming and agriculture field. ATA has great interest in this proposed UAS registration process, since there are numerous innovative uses for UAS in the agriculture sector. UAS can help America’s farmers increase yields, lower costs and improve stewardship of natural resources. This will ultimately allow America’s farmers and ranchers to keep costs low for American consumers and help meet an ever-growing demand for food as the global population increases.

While we understand the need for a reasonable and efficient registration process, ATA members have concerns about how such a process will be structured.  Our members have dealt with the FAA on these types of issues for many years – both for fixed-wing aircraft registration and the Section 333 waiver process for UAS.  Is the experience of some ATA members that these processes were often cumbersome and time-consuming.  Part of the reason for this is that the FAA is still overly-reliant on outdated technology.

For example, FAA communications often come through “snail mail” instead of utilizing more efficient electronic communication.  Sometimes, these FAA responses are contradictory and confusing, often requiring multiple communications to clarify.  When these follow-up communications also take place using snail mail, a process which should be fairly straightforward can often take several months. Large corporations have the resources and manpower to manage an inefficient registration or waiver process.  However, small businesses, family farms and (most importantly for this process) hobbyists, do not.

Accordingly, we would make three recommendations:

1. To the greatest extent possible, the FAA should streamline, automate and digitize the UAS registration process.  For the most part, communications with the FAA should take place electronically.  This would dramatically shorten the registration process, and make it much more manageable for the FAA as well.  Any cost associated with updating the FAA system is likely to be fairly minimal, and could be offset by charging a small registration fee – which should also be able to be paid electronically.

2. The FAA should exempt so-called “Micro UAS” from the registration requirement.  T he FAA has preliminarily defined Micro UAS as aircraft weighing no more than 4.4 lbs. and composed of frangible materials that yield on impact so as to present a minimal hazard to any person or object that the aircraft collides with.  Micros UAS will not exceed a speed of 30 knots, and will be limited entirely to class G airspace away from an airport . If the FAA issued a blanket Micro UAS registration exemption, it could better focus its efforts on higher-risk UAS without compromising safety.  Canada has a similar exemption for Micro UAS, so the experience there should be instructive.

3. The FAA should also exempt from the registration requirement any UAS that is to be used solely in rural areas, which should be defined as a certain distance from an airport or from a major population center.  Many UAS utilized by ATA members would fall into this category.  Canada also has a common-sense exemption for low-risk rural areas, and here again Canada’s experience should be helpful to the FAA in determining a way forward.