Comments about Part 107 Final Rules
After about 16 months of regulatory gestation, the FAA issued a 654 page Final Rule entitled Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems on June 21, 2016. The commentary published below can be summarized as “no surprises” and attached below are eight commentaries on this last iteration in this initial process. For those with a need for the details you can read any one of these or consult with your local UAS lawyer (at a cost).
The Final Rule responds in detail to the thousands of comments filed in the docket, but very few substantive alterations were made. Examples of the small delta’s between initial version and final include (i) permitting flights during twilight hours if the UAS is equipped with anti-avoidance lights and (ii) including a process to waive some restrictions if an operator proves the proposed flight will be conducted safely under a waiver.
As Mr. Goglia notes, the press conference was unusually positive as the DOT Secretary, Mr. Foxx, and the FAA Administrator, Mr. Huerta were positive about the future of drones under the finely (or is it finally?) minted Part 107. From the first breaching of the drone issue, the senior Obama Administration executives were drone fans, except when on landed on the White House grounds.
Further proof of this Obama Administration UAS solidarity, both the Federal Register Notice and the Press Release bear the imprimaturs of the FAA, which signed, issued and will administer the new rules, and the DOT, whose Secretary signed it (a somewhat awkward incursion of the Administrator’s exclusive statutory safety power), p. 624.
While the sharing of the credit of many FAA actions by the DOT has been common over the last few years, the participation by the White House is unusual. First, President Obama was inveigled by Bloomberg News to comment on this regulatory development (too bad that the reporter could not ask a follow up question, like “what’s your position of NextGen?”), as follows:
“We are in the early days of an aviation revolution that will change the way we do business, keep people safe, and gather information about our world,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “This is just a first step, but this is the kind of innovative thinking that helps make change work for us — not only to grow the economy, but to improve the lives of the American people.”
Others knowledgeable about the intersections between 1600 Pennsylvania and 800 Independence do not recall such involvement by POTUS.
PLUS, the White House Office of the Press Secretary issued a 2,329 word statement. That’s odd.
Why? Because– usually the Secretary and the President want to have some separation from a high profile and/or controversial policy pronouncement; so later they are in a neutral position to review the decision. After the new rules are received by the public, it is standard Washington process for the heavy hitters to visit the Secretary and/or the Chief Executive to complain. Having signed and/or commented favorably on a Final Rule, it is hard to listen to private sector criticism objectively.
So, assuming that Mr. Bezos, hypothetically, would like to tell Mr. Obama that the current Part 107 will kill Prime Air, but having cheered its promulgation, such an intervention would appear futile.
As predicted yesterday, Part 107 is but a 1st iteration. Technology will drive changes to the rules; so stressing out about this evolutionary process may not be advisable.
All the answers about what Part 107 allows and prohibits will be found in these links and other resources. Why Secretary Foxx and President Obama jumped in front of this drone regulatory parade may take time to be explained.
Federal Register Notice: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
FAA Summary: SUMMARY OF SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT RULE (PART 107)