In the previous blog we commented on the need for regulatory bodies to clarify the regulatory environment for the use of drones in BVLOS operations, which allow better and greater growth of efficient, safe, profitable operations that energize the industry.
We called attention to the importance of the report of the “Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) which, commissioned by the FAA, made recommendations on regulatory requirements to normalize safe, scalable, economically viable and environmentally advantageous BVLOS operations.
We also indicated that the publication of said report had not yet had a direct impact on the UAS regulations.
Well then, we already have the first effect in the form of A Bill that was presented last week in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States, signed by Senators Mark R. Warner and John Thune.
After reviewing the content of the legislative proposal, there are some interesting questions that can shed light on how the necessary reforms are interpreted on the other side of the Atlantic after the aforementioned ARC report, and we are going to comment on those that I consider most striking, leaving out the more technical and specific aspects of American law.
First of all, the FAA is given a period of 6 months to issue a proposal that establishes a regulation for the certification or approval of unmanned aircraft systems to allow commercial operations beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). In turn, a period of two years is given for this proposal to be approved.
At the same time, some of the requirements that the FAA must take into account are outlined.
It is proposed to establish a risk assessment methodology applicable to the authorization of operations of BVLOS unmanned aircraft systems that includes quantified measures of acceptability that sufficiently take into account the total air and ground risks associated with such operations and the means to mitigate such risks, taking into account an aircraft’s size, weight, speed, kinetic energy, operational capability, proximity to airports and populated areas, operation over people, and operation beyond the visual line of sight, or the operation during day or night, including consideration of unmanned aircraft using an accepted approved detect and avoid system, appropriate for the class and type of airspace in which the operation is conducted.
It is also proposed to establish remote pilot certification standards for BVLOS operations, taking into account the different levels of automated control and management of unmanned aircraft system flights, and to establish a special airworthiness certificate that will be issued after the declaration of compliance with the manufacturer to some requirements accepted by the FAA, that among other considerations the UAS are limited to a maximum gross weight of not more than 1,320 pounds and a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour.
Emphasis is also placed on the use of Modeling and Simulation tools in order to help the evaluation, verification and validation tests of unmanned aircraft systems.
Other interesting content is the proposal for the FAA to grant exemptions to allow low-risk BVLOS operations, for package transport activities or other protected operations that operate with a flight height of less than 100 feet from the ground or from a structure.
It is evident that there is a will to speed up the safe operations of UAS that allow its use for the benefit of society. The balance between operational safety and social benefit is one of the issues from which the decisions of the legislator will pivot. It is everyone’s responsibility, operators, manufacturers, pilots, associations, authorities, etc., to work together so that unmanned aviation gains social acceptance and integrates into our society as manned aviation currently is.