I have only casually been following the discussions about recent FAA advisories regarding use of UAV's, capped most recently with Patrick Egan's report
from the March 4th UAS Airspace Panel.
If I understand correctly, non-commercial users can fly unmanned aircraft in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-57
, but commercial users (e.g. aerial photographers) require a Certificate of Authorization (COA). The language of the new FAA UAV Policy, published here - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.acces...
seems pretty clear -
"The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes."
It goes on to state that
"The FAA has undertaken a safety review that will examine the feasibility of creating a different category of unmanned ``vehicles'' that may be defined by the operator's visual line of sight and are also small and slow enough to adequately mitigate hazards to other aircraft and persons on the ground. The end product of this analysis may be a new flight authorization instrument similar to AC 91-57, but focused on operations which do not qualify as sport and recreation, but also may not require a certificate of airworthiness. They will, however, require compliance with applicable FAA regulations and guidance developed for this category."
So what is the status of this safety review ? Was the March 4th panel related to this review process ? How does all of this impact DIY builders ? The FAA seems to be pretty clear about a continued requirement for UAV operators to maintain line-of-sight with their aircraft in any case.