I just posted an interview discussing some of the major implications of the proposed FAA sUAS rules on my blog:
Disclosure: I am a full time faculty member and the Program Chair of the Master of Science in Unmanned Systems (MSUS) degree for the ERAU-Worldwide campus. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of my employer, ERAU-Worldwide.How long have the proposed rules been in the works? It looks like the rules are supposed to be adopted in September?The proposed rules have been in development since the small aviation rule-making committee (ARC) was first established in 2008. This committee was formed as a result of the need to address small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) integration and ensure safety is maintained in the National Airspace System (NAS). The actual date the rules will go in effect is unknown as it will be highly dependent on the number and complexity of public comments and the resultant updates to the proposed rules. I estimate six months at the earliest (September 2015), assuming no significant challenges and up to two years (2017), if major changes required.Were there significant issues that weren't addressed that the industry was looking for guidance on? Was there anything unexpected about the proposed rules - aside from the manner in which the news was released?That will take time and thorough analysis to determine, which is why the FAA has released these for public comment before enacting. They have asked the stakeholders, parties with an interest in the operation of sUAS, to provide comments and feedback regarding the overall rules and three specific areas. The first specific set of comments they have asked for pertains to whether restrictions should be relaxed for sUAS equipped with technology to overcome known operational limitations, such as the inability to perform see and avoid in the NAS at equivalent level to manned aviation, which could one day be mitigated through detect, sense, and avoid (DSA) technology. The second is whether consideration should be given for permitting transportation of goods for payment in conditions that are proposed to be banned (e.g., over non-operators, beyond line of sight, and outside of constrained or limited environment), which would facilitate potential users such as Amazon. The final area is whether a unique class or series of classes of air carrier certification should be created for UAS operations, such as the group 1-5 designation used by the Department of Defense in categorization of its UAS platforms.How does this news tie into your coursework, short course instruction, etc. - if at all?We have designed our courses and the associated projects and activities to be very flexible, knowing that the UAS regulatory environment is subject to significant dynamic influences. As such, the impact required to manage the change will be nominal. However, the impact to the student will be significant in a very positive way. This change represents a much more flexible, less restraining means to access airspace and implement innovative concepts and technology that otherwise has been highly restricted. Students will be able to conceptualize new applications, develop new systems and technology, and gain access to the actual airspace to investigate, test, and analyze their research.Training, from both an operational and classroom perspective, will also be impacted positively. With the routine access to airspace provided by these proposed rules (once enacted) it will be possible to transition beyond use of modeling and simulation or indoor flights and perform flight operations in the actual environments the student would encounter as a pilot in the real world. These rules provide increased flexibility for some students to see and experience the effects of dynamic environmental conditions, such as wind and precipitation, while still ensuring optimal safety through use of best practices and safety plans. This would build the same student's experience to perform appropriate maneuvers and operational responses to conditions beyond their control (e.g., sudden onset of weather or wind gusts). While these types of outdoor operations are currently permissible and possible (under 333 exemption to certificate of waiver or authorization [COA]), they require significant lead time to apply for and receive operational approval (approx. 30-120 days), which is not conducive to the rapidly changing needs of students and operators. The proposed rules would change that significantly, by removing the need for requesting approval prior to operation unless within close proximity to an airport (would require contact and approval from FAA Air Traffic Control in support of deconfliction).Are these rules similar to ones already adopted by other countries?Yes, they are very similar to Canada, the UK, and Australia(links to the following in French: http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jopdf/common/jo_pdf.jsp?numJO=0&d...)Do you see the rules creating more/less work in the industry?From a regulatory perspective, significantly less work to comply and seek approval for operations. From an economic standpoint, this will support the growth of the market and increase the number of jobs and opportunities. This rule will lift the ban on commercial sUAS flights, which to date require review and approval from the FAA for a 333 exemption COA. This means we will see significant opportunity to use this technology to perform applications that otherwise would be subject to reduced efficiency, greater cost, or increased risk using alternative methods. The number and type of applications already envisioned for sUAS are significant, including precision agriculture, public safety, aerial photography, communications, cargo transport, conservation, weather monitoring, and research.