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.

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You're right. I am confusing amateur and commercial. Thanks for pointing it out, and sorry about the confusion. I did see an article which did not differentiate commercial and amateur, and that's where my confusion came from.
We are getting more and more of these "armchair" lawyers coming out with statements representing "official" policy when
1) it often does not exist and
2) few have access to legitimate info.

This "infomation" is causing much confusion and frustration.

Please peopke, do not come out with spurious comments unless you know what you are talking about.
Ric, your reaction is normal. To this matter, please understand where it is coming from: I found the DIY Drones while on a commercial website, and there are a number of small companies mentioning DIY Drones, bridging the gap from amateur knowledge to making a side business out of a passion.
I completely understand. The regulations are incredibly confusing and I've made my share of mistakes in public, too. That's why I've just created the FAQ that I posted on the front page, so that we can all have an easy-to-find reference point.

Hopefully we'll be able to stop regulatory discussion brushfires with a simple link to that.
I'm new to the site, so I'll try not to ruffle feathers.
My interest in UAV started while I was job hunting for a sales or marketing position. I thought combining my life long enjoyment of R/C models with sales was a natural. In talking with companies though, I found out that the FAA takes a dim view of any UAV not used for military or recreation. Commercial use of any UAV absolutely puts them in a snit.
I'm not an engineer, but I know how to find and talk to them, and I'm convinced a small, slow, lightweight UAV exists that would pose realistically no threat to any aviation, property, or life.
I've talked to ranchers, farmers, and law enforcement, and universally they state they would be most interested in such a UAV. Two ranchers I talked to offered to buy them outright and be the test case for them, they were that excited about it.
What the FAA, industry, and interested parties need to understand is that a "no threat" UAV exists right now, and the industry would leap into it to create new models. They've invested (with govt help) a ton of money into UAVs. Commercializing them will help the economy, enviornment, and a whole host of citizens.
Instead of studying this from a typical government "worry the thing to death" aspect, let them set their limits; even 200', under 20MPH, less than 2 hrs. flight range, under 40LBS, and so on would work right now. Let them tighten them more, and industry would respond.
I'll find my job, retire, and die before the FAA gets this thing studied.
This subject just won't die
It's seems to me that after two people emailed me about buildind them a uav to travel large distances like i am busy with and after making some equires about these people and what was there intention for such designs the regs make sense.

It is not so much about saftey as is intention.

Work this out

10kg carrying capacity
speed 100km per hour
distance 3000 km

see it yet
a drug mule uav!!!!!!!!!!!!
It seems to me that chris's website has sparked an interest from the wrong people
just as the diy mini sub is been regulated by the gov because of the same problem

keep diying but stay safe guys.
That's one of the reasons I like the line of site rule. At least limit the range to a fixed base station. Loss of control signal should result in a return to home behavior or engine shutoff. Farmers, Law Enforcement etc. can all live with those limitations.
That was a report about an AUVSI chapter meeting, that panel had no official bearing on what the FAA does but is/was more of airing of ideas/frustration by the UAS community. As the RCAPA ARC delegate I should have a better idea on the direction (or flavor), after the ARC kick off meeting at the end of this month.

For those of you that watched the live NTSB webcast you now know what we’re up against.
The flip side of this is that UAV - particularly small uavs which could replace cameras-in-the-sky are not merely safer for the pilots, they certainly could be safer for everyone involved;

Crashes happen. Even with the FAA, these helicopters especially tend to crash,
So if option 1 is three tons of high-speed metal, and option 2 is ten pounds of foam falling on pedestrians - or hitting another plane - I'm going out on a limb with option 2.

The FAA should be encouraging TV stations to switch to foam UAV's for traffic and OJ Simpson coverage - or they would if safety was a real concern.

The pattern for "Professional" associations however is to put the interests of the "Profession" above the interests of those served (How does limiting the number of Medical students help the sick I axe you?) I suspect the FAA is a professional club of Pilots, and UAVs are a threat to their institution. (That is reported the case in the Air Force.)

Generally speaking, everyone is a criminal, and it's up to elected and appointed officials to decide which us criminals to prosecute next.

Anyone who believes otherwise hasn't tested the point. Trust me, every cop believes they could find a provision under which to arrest anyone they choose. Such general-purpose laws are called "Ball-Breakers", and generally sound like "Disturbing the peace", "Obstructing an officer or traffic", or some such.

I've been threatened with arrest for picking up litter and bicycling in a public park. If you've slept in your birthday suit, you're a criminal in some states. Arguing that a law does not exist because it would render a significant group to be criminal seems from my experience to fly in the face of reality. What do you take US for? Denmark? ;-)

That’s a one sided argument. 10 lbs of foam (not all foam, sensor package, motor), traveling at say 40 to 60 knots hits someone or goes through granny’s windshield is another. (Some reports says 4lbs of foam can be fatal) To be fair it’s not only the FAA but the other stakeholders too. I spoke with a guy last week who’s developed a few of the more well known systems, he contends the concern is only people on the ground. Other people are more concerned about these things coming through the old windscreen (and ensuing fallout.) Others view most of these as toy airplanes, and that most of us are playing with very dangerous toys while they have their lives on the line. Reinforcing that notion are the larger contractors that keep insisting that sUAS are not commercially viable! What do we deduce front that?
You miss the point. They're already drug runners and don't care about any regulations. That thinking will lead to UAV's only being banned for legitimate civilian use whether amateur or commercial. Just like gun control.

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