May 03, 2018 @ 12:00am

The most rapidly expanding area of aviation is Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). They are known by many names such as Drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Aerial Micro-vehicles, to name a few. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and insurance industry are in quick response mode to the changing environment. In this article, we will share some of the current FAA guidelines and how this affects you as a municipality or school district and what are the insurance solutions available to protect your operations.

UAS have a wide range of capabilities and applications. Some of the non-military applications include search and rescue, aerial surveys, real estate, agriculture, disaster relief, and law enforcement and security. So your school or police department wants to buy one and start flying. No problem, right? Not so fast! The FAA has recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Part 107 that establishes proposed guidelines for their operation.

By Federal law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval.

Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS). 

The FAA is granting case-by-case authorization for UAS to perform commercial operations prior to the finalization of the Small UAS Rule, which will be the primary method for authorizing small UAS operations once it is finalized. The expected date of this final rulemaking is late 2016.

They have also established three distinct categories of UAS operations – Public, Civil, and Model Aircraft operations. Public operations are those for a governmental body such as a county Sherriff’s department or City police department. Civil operations include most schools and all businesses operating a UAS for a commercial purpose. Model Aircraft are those operations that are for fun.


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