This Week’s Summary of the UAS Industry

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This is the 8th in a series of summaries of what is going on in this dynamic aviation sector. The goal is to capture significant new developments—technical, regulatory, legislative, policy, innovative utilization, research, collateral businesses and even bad news. It would be impossible to be all inclusive, because there is so much going on in drone world. If there are stories which merit broader attention, please send a link to


Regulatory/Legislative/Policy DevelopmentsFAA-Logo shadow

→ Registration Task Force— 25 members with very broad range of experience/perspectives give a very difficult mission, impossible timetable (11/20) & low likely safety improvement— Huerta Announces UAS Registration Task Force Members

→ ALPA calls for more Oversight at Senate hearing— does that really mean “Congress provide FAA with more inspectors”? ALPA Urges Congress to Increase FAA Oversight of All UAS Operations

→ Key Senator calls for more FAA authority— In Congress, Drones Represent Money, Freedom — And A Security Threat (N.B. FAA is not an association!)

→ Hearing by Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing & Urban Development SubcommitteeIntegrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology into the National Airspace System— Senators’ and Witnesses’ statements and video of the hearing—interesting and a little disappointing.


→ FAA issues the Air Traffic Organization Statement of how UA’s will be handled in the NAS— Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the National Airspace System— it is a Notice; so it is effective NOW, but it is only in effect for a year. Some quotes from the 17 page Notice:

  • “The UAS Pilot in Command (PIC) is to give way to all manned aircraft, except UASs flying under instrument flight rules (IFR). UASs flying under IFR should be handled the same as manned IFR aircraft, however consideration should be given to the UA performance characteristics.”
  • “Facility managers have the option of developing LOA’s with UA proponents operating under a COA or a notification process under a using agency/FAA memorandum of agreement. It is recommended that AT facilities develop LOAs with UAS proponents that have any of the following:
    • (a) Recurring operations in the facility’s airspace or movement areas.
    • (b) Operations that are complex.
    • (c) Operations in any class of airspace other than Class E and G.
    • (d) Operations that involve multiple AT facilities.
    • (e) Operations transitioning to and from Special Use Airspace (SUA) airspace.”
  • “UAS Reporting. All employees must ensure that all known unauthorized UAS activities through either direct involvement or observation, are reported. These occurrences or conditions must be reported using the processes contained within FAA Order JO 7210.632, Air Traffic Organization Occurrence Reporting or FAA Order JO 7200.20, Voluntary Safety Reporting Program (VSRP).”
  • “Swarm – An operation of more than one UA in which all UAs operate in unison to commands from one PIC, who controls them all through a common link.”
  • Word usage.
    • May (need not be followed by a verb) means a procedure is optional.
    • Must (followed by a verb or the use of an appropriate action verb in the imperative sense) means a procedure is mandatory.
    • Should (followed by a verb) means a procedure is recommended.
    • Will (followed by a verb) indicates futurity; not a requirement for application of a procedure.
    • Singular words include the plural and plural words include the singular


Technology Developments/Research 

→ Camera innovator enters drone market— GoPro footage teases how stable its drone really is

Skyward first drone traffic control system?— Drones Getting Badly Needed Air Traffic Control

→ Consortium’s first successful Airspace ATC control of Drones— PrecisionHawk, Verizon, Harris and DigitalGlobe Jointly Demonstrate Technology for Safe Drone Operations


→ xCraft— fixed-wing quadcopter hovers with precision of a helicopter and the speed of a fixed wing— Shark Tank Goes Into Feeding Frenzy Over Stupid Phones-on-Drones Idea



New Utilizations

Another retailer into Drones— Wal-Mart requested approval from FAA for drone use


Google and Drones to extend the internet Google Wants to Use Drones Too, but Not in the Same Way As Amazon


Boeing and Railroads— Boeing Subsidiary Makes Drone Test Flights To Monitor Railway


City to use Drones to maintain potholes and streetlights— Drones to autonomously Repair Cities of the Future

First FAA §333 Boston UAS news camera— FOX 25 Becomes First Boston Station to Launch Drone with FAA Approval


Engineering Firm Awarded for collecting and gathering huge amounts of geographical and topographical information— Landpoint Named Engineering Company of the Year in Oil & Gas Awards For Use of Drones and the FAA should be pleased because the company has a § 333.


Collateral Businesses

Insurance Giant providing coverage for UAS— You can buy drone insurance to protect you from 160,000 drones a year in the skies


Bad News

This sort of awful behavior cannot be stopped by industry action or even registration, but more incidents like this will not help— Drone Carrying Drugs, Contraband Seized at Oklahoma Prison

Kentucky Judge frees man who shot down a drone— Judge rules Kentucky man had the right to shoot down his neighbor’s droner88

Local newspaper’s Editorial wants more regulation— Editorial: Database needed to maintain proper use of quadcopters

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