Top 5 Drone Regulations Update: USA - June 2021

June 22, 2021 by Yves Morier

Industry expert Yves Morier provides a summarized account of the top 5 most significant developments in rulemaking or related to rulemaking affecting the USA drone industry in the first half of the year, so you can take away the key highlights without having to go through hundreds of pages of regulations.

Yves Morier has 40+ years of experience working in the aviation industry and is a well-renowned expert in safety, airworthiness, UAS and regulations.

Interested in other regions? Read our regulations update for Europe or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest from DroneTalks.

Top 5 USA Drone Regulation Updates: June 2021

1. The significant event was the publication by the FAA of their regulations on Remote Identification and Operations over People. The latter also includes requirements to operate by night.

Remote Identification is a key FAA regulation, requiring all new drones to be manufactured with technology allowing them to be remotely identified and located by the FAA and law enforcement agencies.

Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft

Operations over People creates requirements for drones to operate over people, including four categories of flight that are allowed based on the possibilities of injuries to bystanders on the ground. It also allows for operations at night, which requires updated training and lights, and opens the possibility of operations over moving vehicles, with added restrictions.

Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People December 28, 2020

These rules became applicable on April 21.

2. The FAA has modified the requirements relative to Part 107 tests.

2021 PART 107 TEST CHANGES: NO MORE RECURRENT TEST, NIGHT FLYING AND MORE – Source the Drone Girl

Drone pilots will not need to take an in-person Part 107 recurrent test anymore. This test is replaced by online training.

Read the full article.

3. The debate on the security risks posed by drones for foreign countries (e.g., China) is still ongoing. Here are two very good articles on the issue.

THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF BANNING CHINESE DRONE TECHNOLOGY – Source Law Fare Blog

The article provides an excellent overview of the legal issues.

The Legal Aspects of Banning Chinese Drone Technology

THE AMERICAN SECURITY DRONE ACT: THE SEQUEL – Source DroneLife

The article includes a detailed presentation of the new bill and explains what the covered foreign entities are (i.e., entities to which drones, or products must not be bought), the requirements put on Federal Agencies and the exceptions

The American Security Drone Act: The Sequel

Recent news on the issue:

US CONGRESS MAY MOVE AGAINST CHINESE-MADE DRONES – Source GPS World

4. Another major debate in the US is about who has ownership of the airspace at very low level. Several states are preparing legislation that would give that ownership to the owners of the land. Numerous articles have been published.

SEN. LEE INTRODUCES DRONE INTEGRATION AND ZONING ACT – Source sUAS News
YMO: the act aim at clarifying the responsibilities of local governments and Federal Government on airspace and giving the possibility to local state to regulate airspace provided it does not affect significantly the federal navigable airspace.
The rationale is that the Federal Government does not have the means to oversee all the zones and that local affairs are for local government.
Today FAA insist that they have power given by Congress to regulate the totality of the airspace.
It is a proposed law. Let’s see how it progresses.

AVIGATION EASEMENT LAWS COULD CREATE TOLL ROADS IN THE SKY FOR DRONES – Source UAV Coach
YMO: very thorough article on an important topic for drones as this could allow landowners to levy a fee for flying over their land. Legislation is in preparation in several US states. The article explain the concept of avigation easement, provide an historical background, outline the laws in preparations and mentions the reactions of AUVSI and CTA. This topic is creating a significant debate in the US. Please see the list of related articles

YMO: Meaning of avigation: science of navigation by aircraft.

Related articles:

AVIGATION EASEMENTS: AUVSI SAYS "NO DRONE TOLL LANES" – Source DroneLife

CLASS G INC - AIR TRAFFIC TOLLING IS THE SOLUTION – Source sUAS News

YMO: A system has been developed and patented by SMG Consulting to allow landowners to set-up fees.

Class G Inc – Air Traffic Tolling Is The Solution

THIS MOVE WILL HAMPER DRONE OPERATIONS – Source iHLS
CTA and AUVSI are concerned that Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas West Virginia regulations on avigation is creating toll roads in the sky.

AVIGATION IS NOT A TYPO; IT'S A THREAT TO DRONE OPS, SAY TWO INDUSTRY ORGS – Source DroneLife

YMO: the fear is to have a patchwork of rules at State level.

5. FAA announced the creation of an Aviation Rulemaking Committee on BVLOS

FAA FORMS NEW RULEMAKING COMMITTEE TO ADVANCE BVLOS DRONE OPERATIONS – Source Aviation Today

YMO: The Aviation Rulemaking Committee will report to FAA within 6 months. When drafting its recommendations it will consider safety, security, environmental protection and societal benefits.

Interested in other regions? Read our regulations update for Europe or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest from DroneTalks.

About the author

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Yves Morier

Yves Morier graduated from the French Civil Aviation Academy (ENAC) as an Air Transport Engineer in 1978.
After Military Service, Yves joined in 1979 a DGAC (French CAA) local office in Normandy and in 1986 a Central Office in Paris where he worked on airworthiness codes and implemented the safety research program.
In 1991, Yves joined the Joint Aviation Authorities as Regulation Director.
In 2004, he joined EASA where he occupied various posts as head of the department and in the last three years as Principal Advisor for new technologies.
He retired in 2019.
Areas of expertise: Safety, Airworthiness, UAS, and Regulations.
Yves is currently married, and has 3 daughters, and a grandson.

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