3D Robotics

FAA raises commercial drone altitutude to 400ft

3689421694?profile=originalFrom the FAA press release:

March 29- After a comprehensive risk analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised the unmanned aircraft (UAS) “blanket” altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators to 400 feet. Previously, the agency had put in place a nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for such flights up to 200 feet.

The new COA policy allows small unmanned aircraft—operated as other than model aircraft (i.e. commercial use)—to fly up to 400 feet anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the agency prohibits UAS operations.

“This is another milestone in our effort to change the traditional speed of government,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.”

The FAA expects the move will reduce the workload for COA applications for industry UAS operators, government agencies and the FAA's Air Traffic Organization. The agency also estimates the move will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. Other provisions of an FAA authorization, such as registering the UAS and making sure pilots have the proper certification, still apply.

Under the blanket COA, the FAA will permit flights at or below 400 feet for UAS operators with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and for government UAS operations. Operators must fly under daytime Visual Flight Rules, keep the UAS within visual line of sight of the pilot and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:

  • Five nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
  • Three NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
  • Two NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
  • Two NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.

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  • What you linked there is just basic outline material.  Nothing substantive at all.  Nothing from the FAA.  There was supposed to have been a "comprehensive risk analysis" done.  At least they could share it with us.

    OK, the FAA actually doesn't do anything itself.  They pay contractors to do it, but still it's their job to release that information.

    Sadly the "comprehensive risk analysis" probably went something like this. "Hey, has anybody had a really serious incident that made the new headlines?  Nope, not yet.  OK, what can we relax a bit?  Well everyone is telling us our proximity distances are just crazy large.  OK, we'll cut some in half!"

    Oh, ya, transfer $250,000 to this account for that risk analysis.

  • @Gary

    I think the part where you say "Not sending folks with aviation knowledge. . . " is spot on.

    The commercial and private pilots / owners of helicopters, LSAs, agricultural sprayers, etc. are all sending members to sit on the FAA/industry working committees.  If "drones" [ahem] are represented by the likes of Walmart, Amazon, and the toy mfr industry, it will be near impossible to wrestle airspace (and hence commercial work) from the entrenched aviation entities.

    We have to sell aerospace on the value and safety of this unique facet.  Constant yelling and screaming from UAV operators isn't helping our cause.

    ". . . in order to form a more perfect union. . ."

  • @John Bond

    I do have a point.  I wear a hat so that it is not as noticeable.


    I was just curious on your capability of assessing 'competency'.  No worries mate.

  • @Tony Kenward

    None of my college degrees say aerospace engineer.

    Do you have a point?

  • @John Bond

    sir, are you an aerospace engineer?

  • The sky is the limit..... LOL

  • Moderator

    They were shown the South African Civil Aviation Authorities thinking on this in 2010 and along with that and Australian stuff promptly put it all in the circular filing cabinet. Sadly the groups that have stood up for in some ways for this community have done a horrible job in the last two years. Not sending folks with aviation knowledge to aviation meetings is just plain silly. Don't worry its all still on track for 2021, the time frame being used behind closed doors. Lets hope those rumors are wrong. I had an email from a PR company last night that said part 107 will come out on or around April 1st.

  • "March 29- After a comprehensive risk analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised the unmanned aircraft (UAS) “blanket” altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators to 400 feet."

    Comprehensive risk analysis!!!!

    Say What!!!

    The FAA doing anything professional concerning UAS?

    They have gone from being just plain stupid (corrupt?) to being just a bit out of touch of reality... to suddenly being competent?!  Where is the "Comprehensive" risk analysis?  Link please!  Have they pulled it out of their rear end as they have with most of their UAS stuff.

    I would love to see a truly professional risk analysis.  Something that could pass a peer review without being laughed at..  Hey FAA, provide a link.   It's your job!  Maybe after fifteen years of delay you finally have something?

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