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UAS Proposed Rules Released 2/15/15

by Cindy on March 16, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration has released the proposed rules for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on February 15th, 2015.  The public can comment on these proposed rules within 60 days of publication.  The proposed rules do not apply to model aircraft or “micro” systems that weigh less than 4.4 pounds. 
 
An unmanned aerial system is piloted by a remote control or an on-board computer.  The acronym “UAV” (unmanned aerial vehicle) is also used to describe the technology, as is the more popular “drone” (at least in the media), although “drone” has a broader definition than UAS or UAV.   Drone has been used to describe pilotless missiles and robot vehicles as well as quadcopters.  Using the term ‘drone’ can cause confusion when talking about a UAS.  One of the concerns when using ‘drone’ to describe a UAS/UAV is that it implies warfare, yet the technology can be used for so much more. 
 
By all reports, the most popular UAS currently generally available is the “quadcopter” which has four rotating sets of blades, is highly maneuverable and can carry productive payloads such as cameras.
 
Despite constant media attention (e.g., Amazon’s proposed delivery of goods by UAS), the commercial use of UAS’s is currently prohibited in the United States other than for a handful of exemptions that the FAA has granted for testing purposes.  Once the regulations are in place (not likely for about a year) and commercial use becomes legal, Surveyors and their clients will be able to benefit from the use of UAV’s.  The technology will be used to collect data for topography surveys, provide current aerial photography for virtually any project, identify visible easement encroachments for utility companies, volumetrics, and the list goes on.  

Below you will find the links to the FAA website with the press release and the summary of the regulations.

http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=18295&cid=TW299

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/media/021515_sUAS_Summary.pdf