The FAA spokesman would not speculate on when the FAA would announce the “Final Rule”, but I was advised to “check our news site daily”. Well, it wasn’t in the news site, but it finally happened on June 22nd… which is “early summer” and not “late spring”.
When will the final rule go into effect?
“We are working towards final coordination and publishing the final rule as soon as possible with a targeted effective date of at least 30 days after publication”. The rule will be in effect in late August, Remote Pilot exams will begin in September.
The spokesman also stated that “operator and training qualifications will be detailed in the final Part 107 Rule”. That is backed up by the May/June issue of the FAA Safety Briefing publication included the following:
Airman certification is an important part of safely integrating UAS into the existing aviation community. While many UAS owners already hold a traditional pilot certificate, UAS is bringing a new set of airmen to our shared airspace. To ensure that everyone understands how to play nice in the NAS, the rule proposes to require certain airman knowledge to be eligible for an airman certificate for UAS operations. My Flight Standards Service team is already doing the groundwork on UAS Airman Certification Standards (www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/) to develop appropriate test questions.
No more Section 333?
“Hobbyists may continue to operate under Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Reauthorization law. Part 107 will cover all Civil UAS operations that do not fall under Section 336.” (FAA spokesman)
The FAA spokesman confirmed that Part 107 UAS pilot applicants will be “vetted by the TSA before they are issued a permanent airman certificate”, as with manned aircraft pilot airman certificate applicants currently. (Part 61). The new (April) IACRA clearance process for student pilots took about two weeks when I went through it, but can be expected to take longer as the §107 Final Rule becomes effective. At present, student pilots must complete a form 8710 with a Certified Flight Instructor and register with IACRA online. I would predict a similar process will be created under the 107 Final Rule.
For the moment Section 333 exemptions are still being processed… many thousands of them, even with the “bulk” processing that is now the practice. At this point it would appear that public operations under Section 334 COA authorization would not be affected by the Final 107. Public operators have the choice of a COA under 334, 333 or the new FAR 107.
The spokesman stated that “We do envision ADS-B on manned aircraft playing a critical role in situations with unmanned aircraft, becuase then UAS can detect and avoid manned aircraft”. The spokesman likely had visions of thousands of drones transmitting ADS-B/Out at 30 watts. I don’t see it that way. What I think I can safely predict is that (passive) ADS-B (in) like as the uAvioniX Ping, could provide UAS operators with a short-range passive ADS-B warning systems for UAS operators, displayed on the control screen.
I also asked about what have been dubbed “DROTAMS”, or NOTAMS for drones, filed online: are they connected to the NOTAMS system for pilots?. For the answer to that question the FAA spokesman directed me to contact Lockheed Martin, which operates www.1800wxbrief.com which includes a menu link (UAS) to a page for filing a UAS flight plan (Registration and password required). I attempted to reach Jackie Joins, with Lockheed/Martin and I will post the reply here when it is received.
I also reached out to AIRMAP, which also includes a system for filing flight plans (NOTAMS) for UAS operations on their website and in their mobile app. I will post the reply here when it is received.
QUESTIONS from Students:
On a related note, I recently received a question from one of the students in my online UAS ground school video training course at UDEMY.com:
“Can you use a drone under 55 lbs with an FA number or do you need to get an actual N number”
The confusion comes from the fact that FA numbers are applied one of two ways. Hobby operators use one FA number for all their drones while a commercial operator obtains one FA number or an N number for each individual aircraft. For hobbyists, the FA number identifies the operator while for commercial (and public operators), the FA number identifies the (one) aircraft. It might have avoided confusion if the FAA had designated a different number series for one of the two, like FB, but they didn’t.