Richard Hanson, who works on the AMA's Regulatory and Governmental Affairs operations. The regulatory process to introduce UAVs in the National Airspace (NAS) is a long, tortured and potentially disastrous ordeal for us. If it goes well, we'll be given guidelines or laws under which to operate, which create a category for small amateur UAVs that allows us to operate safely and still do interesting work. If it doesn't go well, we could be banned entirely.

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  • The lowest altitude full scale fixed-wing aircraft (with people in them) are allowed to fly in uncontrolled sparsley populated areas is 500 AGL (Above Ground Level), so you can see how the 400' AGL limitation for amateur UAS's evolved. That's reallly very liberal if you think about it. Why give up 350' so fast (even though it's really not 'ours' to give up)?
  • Hey Mike, it's all public airspace - you don't own the airspace an inch over your own head or property! The real question is what is CONTROLLED airspace? Research classes A, B, C, D, E, and G airspace for starters (there are other special use ones, but those are the main ones).
  • Admin
    Fair enough , last 3 para say it all , future for civil UAV does not look bleak at all to me:)) , time will prove it
  • O.K., now here's the REAL DEAL without bias:

    July 19 — The safety of the nation's skies is the FAA's top priority as it tries to accommodate a growing demand for unmanned flights in U.S. civil airspace, agency officials told a House panel on border security.

    Nancy Kalinowski, vice president of System Operations, said the FAA is taking a conservative approach to authorizing Unmanned Aircraft System flights in the United States because of safety concerns.

    "While many view UASs as a promising new technology, the limited safety and operational data available does not support expedited or full integration" into the national airspace system, she said Thursday in written testimony at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing.

    She said limited data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol suggest that accident rates for UAS aircraft are significantly higher than in general and commercial aviation.

    The FAA has made progress in streamlining its process for evaluating applications for UAS operations, she said. In 2009, the agency issued 146 authorizations, called COAs, to public entities and "we are on track to issue over 200 this year."

    Although COA requests are normally handled on a first-come, first-served basis, she said the FAA recognizes the importance of UAS operations during law-enforcement emergencies and disasters such as California wildfires and the deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and has issued emergency authorizations in minutes or hours instead of the usual days and weeks.

    Under the FAA's review process, ATO airspace experts ensure that a proposed UAS operation will not adversely impact the efficiency of the national airspace system. The application is then sent to Aviation Flight Standards to evaluate the operational concept, the airworthiness of the aircraft, the pilot and crew qualifications and the policies and procedures used by the operator.

    Currently, 268 active COAs are in effect for 133 different aircraft types and 151 operators, she said. The COAs contain risk mitigations based on the type of operation.

    "Continuing review of UAS operations will enhance the FAA's ability to assess the safety to improve ongoing use of this technology," Kalinowski said. "The more we understand about safety, the more we can work toward integration into the national airspace system."
  • 3D Robotics
    Apols for the sound quality. You should be able to hear everything Rich says, but we had to choose between a poor cellphone connection and Skype. Skype was working before we went live but then degraded. It was still clear enough to understand, but not as good as we'd normally like.

    That said, the quality of the conversation--Rich was fascinating--more than makes up for it!
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