FAA certifies first two drones for commercial use

From the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators say they have certified two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use, a milestone expected to lead to the first approved commercial drone operations later this summer.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the drones are Insitu’s Scan Eagle X200 and AeroVironment’s PUMA [shown above]. Both weigh less than 55 pounds, are about 4.5 feet long and have wingspans of 9 to 10 feet.

A major energy company plans to fly the Scan Eagle off the Alaska coast starting in August to survey ice floes and migrating whales. The PUMA is expected to support emergency response crews for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea.

Most nonmilitary use of drones in the U.S. has been limited to police and other government agencies.

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Comment by Gary McCray on July 26, 2013 at 8:14pm

Well, it's a start and I have no doubt a legitimate use.

But, note, both of them are deployed about as far from the nearest living organism as they could possibly be.

I suspect somebody in congress said youve got to authorize something.

So the FAA figured they couldn't get in too much trouble with these.

Still, it's a start, lets hope they speed things up a bit.

Comment by Greg Fletcher on July 26, 2013 at 8:42pm

I don't think this is good news at all. Knowing how the FAA operates, commercial drone use will never be feasible for us little diy guys. Now you will need a "certified" system so you will need to by a $ 50 - 100K certified uav from a company that paid for the certification process and includes it in the price. I expect that a diy uav will have to be experimental class and not be used for commercial purposes (aerial photography). They will do everything they can to keep the little guy out of the market. Commercial aviation has always been this way. If you can afford a "certified" uav you will have to pay a "certified" technician/mechanic to work on it. The only way a little guy can get in is to fly under the radar in the grey market area as is done now, only once the regs are in place there will be bigger teeth behind the enforcement of the new rules.

Comment by BluSky1 on July 26, 2013 at 9:30pm

Yep its sad the government is light-years behind us,
FAA Modernization And Reform Act 2012 [H.R.658.ENR] SEC.336

it clearly states anything under 50lbs is a model and not bound by the FAA rules. Lawyers can fight over that all day reality is till you hurt someone, bother someone or make money off it nobody is going to care.

Comment by Digital Wings on July 26, 2013 at 9:42pm
cool drone! the floodgates are opening, we will soon be able to fly our own drones "legally"
Comment by Eli Cohen on July 26, 2013 at 10:29pm
What version of the puma is that? The one I'm familiar with is a tractor...

Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 27, 2013 at 12:20am

That's a maritime version, no 2 I think its the AE now. We were very happy to have folks from both companies at our show, Tad and Ted (I know you couldn't make that up) Chris was in the room as well so he is moving in the right circles. Once you I have tidied up the recorded footage rather than the live stream you should listen to Ted talk (see what I did) He heads up the standards committee and used to work for AV.

The Puma is $300,000 a go and there are only about 300 in the wild there are only 6000 Ravens so these guys got their permissions based on low hours. That said again at the show we heard about solar tech that allows the Puma to fly all day.

The ScanEagle has thousands of hours of flight time and came out of a civilian project so there is a glimmer of hope.

Where I am taking a while to get is that logbooks are and absolute must to gather data and prove to the FAA that the APM has airtime. I think it should be built into the Android GCS.

BluSky you are utterly wrong in your conjecture. You will never be able to operate UA under model aircraft rules commercially. 

Now that the FAA has certified two airframes anyone operating commercially without either of these will have a harder time should the FAA knock at the door.


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 27, 2013 at 1:16am

Now that AV and Insitu (Boeing) have a commercial reason to seek out people getting in their way they will probably be telling the staff to start watching YouTube. The FAA have to act on complaints. A lawyer from the FAA recently told sUAS News that they have long memories and are very aware of whats happening now. 

The FAA are actually seeking stricter rules for model flying. HR 658 was a compromise.

Plenty of folks with deep pockets will push forward now. There is still a chance for sub 2kg platforms a self certification route will be available perhaps with online tests. RCAPA wrote that for airframes and the FAA adopted it for the COA process. If you want to fly commercially in the USA you should join RCAPA, its free so why is that hard. Start flying under there code and join AUVSI thanks to Patricks work they are finally getting it when it comes to small systems.

Comment by BluSky1 on July 27, 2013 at 4:49am

No. The FAA will never be able to regulate hobbyists (e.g. "us little diy guys").

"Airborne Anarchist"

I do not accept any club, union or association.

Governments trying to regulate my 2.3LB drone are laughable it tells me our governments are way too big and out of control. Similar to the nutcase in NewYork that tried to ban any soda over 12oz. In my 1.5 years of fpv flying I have flown over 100 recorded HD flights. I have never been stopped and even granted access to state parks by the chief rangers. I think like Oregon senate bill 71 there are a few Nutcases like mr 12oz+ soda who will try to make ridiculous laws about our micro drones and get laughed out of the chamber. Nothing will come of it in reality micro drones are the future of state and local law enforcement. We pay the taxes I would rather buy 7 UAV then one real helicopter.

Developer
Comment by Mark Colwell on July 27, 2013 at 5:03am

I will need a dozen Puma's not bad for $3.600.000 


Developer
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 27, 2013 at 5:11am

I don't really view this news release as a victory for UAV use in the US.  I think it's actually all of our fears becoming reality.

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