Policy News

FAA Gives the OK for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Published: Thursday, 18 February 2016 16:06
Written by STEPS
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has officially announced its rules and regulations to drone registration in efforts to maintain aerial security. As Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or “drones” become increasingly popular for avid consumers and military personnel, the FAA revealed updated measures, effective December 21, 2015. For example, anyone in possession of a small UAS (the category weighing 0.55lb-55lb) is directed to register with the FAA UAS registry before they fly outdoors. Individuals who have already flown drones of this weight category must register by February 19, 2016. In a Bard College study, researchers categorized 921 recorded UAS encounters from 2013-2015 into: Sightings and Close Encounters. Sightings were defined as “a pilot… spotted a drone flying within or near the flight paths of manned aircraft though not posing an immediate threat…,” and Close Encounters were occurrences “where a manned aircraft came close enough to a drone that it met the (FAA’s) definition of a ‘near midair collision’ or close enough that there was a possible danger of collision…” The study concluded that 35.5% of the recorded cases were Close Encounters and 64.5% were Sightings. Furthermore, 90% of the recorded events showed the UAS went above 400 ft., the maximum height allotted to any UAS. Many industry officials are skeptical of the new FAA regulations, while FAA advisers assure that the actions being taken are simply to bolster national security. See: http://dronecenter.bard.edu/files/2015/12/12-11-Drone-Sightings-and-Close-Encounters.pdf.