HUGE NEWS FOR US!!! Drones (up to 25 pounds) Legal for U.S. Safety of today.

I don't know how many of you guys have seen this yet, but this is HUGE NEWS for us. No COA needed for drones up to 25 pounds, as long as it's being operated by a U.S. safety agency.

Check out the article that came out 2 hours ago on Bloomberg.

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Comment by JeffBetts_KK4MTC on May 14, 2012 at 9:54pm

This is a GIANT step in the right direction! 

Comment by Gary Mortimer on May 14, 2012 at 11:46pm

You can't get that COA unless you are a government entity remember. Don't forget you still have to go through the NPRM process.

The FAA and the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice have established an agreement that meets the congressional mandate. Initially, law enforcement organizations will receive a COA for training and performance evaluation. When the organization has shown proficiency in flying its UAS, it will receive an operational COA. The agreement also expands the allowable UAS weight up to 25 pounds.

They were told to do something by yesterday earlier in the year, its not that much of a change from what was already in place. Just a two tier COA system and more weight. To put it in perspective, you can fly upto 20kg in Europe without much hassle. 

Comment by ArileyS on May 15, 2012 at 5:56am
Yeah, unless they're making the COA a lot easier to get (and I see no reason to believe that they are), I'm not sure that this is a step forward at all. The language in the Reauthorization Bill would have let public safety agencies fly drones up to 4.4lbs with little/no oversight under some common sense guidelines. This puts the horrid COA process back in the mix under the guise of being more aggressive on weight.
Comment by ArileyS on May 15, 2012 at 6:03am
The actual FAA statement implies that any UAS will have to go through a two-tiered COA process. The Bloomberg article interprets the statement to mean that only UAS's above 25lbs will have to go through that process. I hope they're right, but I think that's an optimistic interpretation. Who wants to call the FAA and ask?
Comment by Matthew Schroyer on May 15, 2012 at 11:57am

It seems like this is a pretty big step, but I don't think Bloomberg is being accurate (and potentially disingenuous) when it says "without applying for special approvals." I read the FAA document, and nowhere does it say gov't agencies can fly without approval. As Ariley said, it's a two-tiered COA process that the FAA announced.

Maybe it depends on your interpretation of what "special" means, but I think most familiar with the technology would consider any CoA approval at all to be "special."

I'm going to contact the office and see what the difference in the system is. The announcement is vague to me.

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 15, 2012 at 3:35pm

This is interesting.  What if a company does all its testing inside a hangar, then is a COA required?  If not, then that could be one way around the need for a COA, and you have all the Safety Agenies as potential clients.

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on May 15, 2012 at 7:15pm

@Ellison- Indoors is not in the NAS, thus outside FAA jurisdiction, and is fair game.

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 15, 2012 at 7:20pm

Ok, gotta find a cheap hangar to rent or buy. ;-)

PM me if anyone has one.

Comment by Carl La France on May 15, 2012 at 7:51pm

I would not be surprised if they come up with some form of licensing for drone pilots .The first years of implementation are going to be shaky. If every police force and every fire department gets one there is going to be a lot of  drones buzzing around they are all going to want flir and fvp right out of the gate .  They will need quadro copters with protected fans for working the city streets and lots of rubber bumpers for when they hit stuff  not every body has the skill or can gain the skill to fly one especially at night  they will be flying into unseen hydro wires .There is going to be a demand for drone pilots. When one gets away and causes property damage  the law suits will come .Insurance will be a big issue   Some People will be offended when  the drone  stops and takes a look at them some people might throw rocks at them if they feel intimidated Drone repair centers will spring up all over the place . It will be interesting to see which drone manufacturer gets the contracts?"Bata? or VHS?" The technology will jump forward  with leaps and Bounds  motors batteries electronics airframes there will be lots of "broken drones "on E Bay Exciting times !

Comment by Jacob Thomas on May 16, 2012 at 6:22am

Ariley and Matt- It looks like you guys are right and Bloomberg is totally misleading. It seems like we (public agencies at this point) have to go through a 2-tiered (training/performance evaluation and operational) COA process. The timing of the paperwork is also expedited on the FAA's end. This info states that they basically have 90 days to make the whole process much quicker- including a web based COA process. Either way, they are finally making some steps to actually do something. 

The whole FAA article is here-


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