From my understanding, there were 3 major rulings:
1. The definition of aircraft (as alluded to above) and the FAA’s jurisdictional authority to regulate anything that flies creating a “reductio ad obsurdum” situation (ie paper airplanes, Frisbee, etc.). FAA has neither the desire nor the capacity to regulate “everything that flies” and so there must be a limit imposed on jurisdictional authority to enable the body to do it’s federally mandated job.
2. Because the FAA, has in the past, made distinction between ‘model aircraft’ and “aircraft” and Trappy’s craft is clearly in the “model aircraft” classification the Policy Notices (05-01 and 08-01) are not a basis for asserting 91 FAR enforcement. Basically FAA made distinction for two classes and is now trying to classify everything under one.
3. The Policy Notice 07-01 (the one that shuts down commercial operations) does not establish jurisdiction because the notice applies to “aircraft” or is completely invalid because FAA didn’t follow proper Rulemaking procedures in 5 USC 553. In short FAA is either trying to apply a rule that isn’t applicable or the rule is invalid because they didn’t run the process correctly.
With these findings, it would appear that operators who fly within certain constraints (which are VERY unclear at this point) would be within their rights to conduct commercial operations. However, since the appeal, this decision is stayed until the next legal process, which is a full NTSB multi-judge review within the next 30 days. The next appeal would then be to the DC District Court of Appeals. The decision making process isn’t over, rather, it’s just getting started.
Attorney Tim Ravich
This is the opinion of Unmanned Vehicle University. There are no FAA regulations yet
The FAA CONOPS for UAV operations will include two categories
Category 1 Small UAVs less than 55 pounds Daytime Only VFR, line of sight Permit Required Pass multiple choice exam Demonstrate flight proficiency, medical certificate
Our small Small UAV Ground School will prepare you for the exam here
Category 2 Everything Else Treat UAS like a manned aircraft, Requires transponder and ADS-B out, Each PIC controls one UAV, Autonomous operations not permitted, No new classes or types of airspace, Air traffic separation minimums in controlled airspace apply to UAS, ATC responsible for separation for manned and unmanned, PIC complies with ATC instructions, use standard phraseology.
Before you start operating UAVs in US National Airspace (NAS) you must be aware of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). The primary reference for UAS operations is National Policy Document N8900.227 dated July 13, 2013. N8900.227 also has pilot and observer qualifications and training requirements. Always check the FAA website to get clarification on any misunderstandings you may have. You can also call the Manager of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office at 202-385-4835.
According to the FAA UAS Fact Sheet posted on the FAA website there are two ways you can legally operate a UAV in the NAS. The first is to obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA) and the second is to obtain an experimental certificate. You also need to distinguish between public and civil operations. Public operations basically refer to City, State or Federally owned UAVs and civil is everything else. It used to be that only government agencies and not for profit universities could obtain a COA. Section 9 of N8900.227 now says that a COA can be obtained for civil and commercial operations.
The rules for applying for an experimental certificate are contained in CFR 91.125 and operating limits are contained in FAR 91.319. Note that 91.319 says you cannot carry persons or property for compensation or hire. According to 91.319 you can charge for your services as long as you don’t carry persons or property. If you carry a payload, that is not persons or property and you could legally charge for your services.
Everyone is waiting for the key date of Sept 2015 for passage of regulations for UAVs as the milestone for when they can charge for services. As of August 2013, this is not a correct assumption. In that month the FAA approved a restricted type certificate for the AeroVironment PUMA and Insitu Scan Eagle drones. They also approved Insitu to charge their first customer, ConocoPhillips, for aerial survey operations in Alaska. You can read all about restricted type certification in FAA Order 8110.56A. You will need to fill out FAA Form 8110-12 to apply for the type certificate. Once you have a type certificate you can operate in accordance with CFR 21.25. Note Part 2 which opens the door for you to start a business and conduct the special operations that are listed.
We recommend that you take a look at one other regulation called FAA National Policy Document 8130.34C, Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Optionally Piloted Aircraft. In order to obtain a restricted type rating you must obtain a special airworthiness certificate. You can apply for this by filling out form 8130-7. Finally you will also need to obtain a Registration Certificate and Aircraft Flight manual. Most UAVs don’t have flight manuals so if you decide to become a manufacturer and want certification you should get an operations manual together. By the way, we did not make this up, everything in this Chapter came directly from the FAA.
In summary, to operate a drone legally in the NAS, you will need to get a special airworthiness certificate, restricted type certificate, registration certificate, a commercial COA and a flight manual to be legal to fly in the NAS. Don’t forget to scan N8900.227 to make sure you are qualified as a pilot. Or you can save yourself all the hassle and buy a Scan Eagle or PUMA and apply for a commercial COA.