Big UAS Regulatory Changes from the FAA

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On March 28, the FAA announced UAV regulatory changes to the blanket COA (certificates of waiver or authorization) and commercial online registration changes. Since the announcement last week, our team has fielded many questions, calls, and concerns.

Keep reading for a summary of the changes and what they mean to you.

Blanket COA Raised to 400’
As you may know, every 333 Exemption received has included a Blanket COA which allows its recipient to fly up to 200’ in the National Airspace and in uncontrolled airspace. That has now been raised to 400’. This is valid for any current exemption, not just new ones.

Any COA requests you may have pending for 400’ within class G airspace will be suspended by the FAA. You’ll get an email explaining that the Blanket COA will suffice. If your COA request is not purely just to get to 400’ and is for other reasons, the COA process should continue. This is great news as we all know photogrammetry below 200’ can be problematic.

Online Commercial UAV Registration is Now Available
In December 2015, the FAA launched an online registration system for recreational UAV operators:

This system allows recreational users to fly any small UAS legally as long as it is marked with the user’s registration number. Commercial operations were not included. This week, that system has been expanded to include registration for the use of commercial small UAS. The operator creates an account, then individually adds every UAV they intend to fly for commercial purposes. Each UAV is then assigned a registration number which must be attached to the aircraft.

This new system bypasses the typical two to three month process that includes notarized documentation and registration forms to mail. If you are already in the process of registering your aircraft the previous way, you need not do anything; you can also register online. Your aircraft will be registered with an N number in the new system. Both are valid and do not cancel each other out.

If you have questions related to the FAA’s new ruling or any questions pertaining to UAVs, contact the experts at RDO Integrated Controls today.