The Federal Aviation Administration is combing over a report made by a committee of drone experts that it had previously tasked with developing a plan for allowing small drones to fly over groups of people not involved with the flight.
According to a statement issued Wednesday on the FAA’s website, the Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee’s report suggests that the administration create four categories of rules governing the small drones.
The first category would pertain to drones weighing 250 grams or less, which is roughly a half a pound. The committee concluded that the UAVs in this category can fly over people without restriction because the risk of injury is so low.
To qualify for the second category, a drone manufacturer would have to guarantee that the UAV can fly over people with less than a one percent chance of causing serious injury upon contact.
The third category relates to drones that fly over closed or restricted areas, such as a work site. The drone would only be permitted to fly over the people on the site for short periods of time and wouldn’t be allowed to fly over dense crowds of people. The manufacturer would have to guarantee that the drone present less than a 30 percent risk of serious injury during a collision.
Drones placed in the fourth category can fly over large crowds for long periods of time “if the operation is conducted in compliance with a documented risk mitigation plan, which was developed and implemented in accordance with industry consensus standards,” according to the report.
The plan must address the qualifications of the drone’s operator and how the operation would function should local entities choose to become involved in the planning. Like a category three drone, the manufacturer of a category four drone would have to be able to guarantee that the chance of a serious injury occurring during a drone-to-human collision would be less than 30 percent.
Regardless of the category, all of the commercial drones must fly at least 20 feet above and 10 feet to the side of people at all times.
The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee includes drone manufacturers, drone operators, organizations concerned with drone rules, researchers, and members of academia. Some of the more notable members of the committee are DJI, AT&T, GoPro, GoogleX, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and 3D Robotics (3DR).
The FAA said in the statement that it will use the information provided in the report to create a “flexible, performance-based rule.” The administration said the public would be given a forum to comment once it creates the proposal based on the committee’s report.
To download the full report, click here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations