The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized and issued new rules (known as Part 107) for routine commercial use of small-unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS).

This is a result of several efforts done by aviation authorities and the aeronautical industry in the last decade, aimed to integrate UAS into the national airspaces around the world. Other national authorities, in Sweden, United Kingdom and France, already issued similar rules few years ago. The FAR Part 107, however, represents not only how the biggest UAS market in the world proposes the commercial use of sUAS in its national airspace but, also, how this market can influence economies all over the world with a new regulation mark.

The new regulation affects a segment that represents something not greater than 2.5% of the global UAS market, as per studies conducted by Teal Group recently. Part 107 and its respective Advisory Circular establishes requirements and guidance for operation of aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds, flying below 400ft above ground level and enforces Visual Line-of-Sight (VLoS) – when an UAS is flown as close as needed to be seeing by its pilot.

The rules announced this past Tuesday does not deal with other industry issues, for example: applications, technologies and, most importantly, with a huge market related with bigger UAS. This market takes full advantage of robotics and communication technologies that can fly far beyond what our eyes can see. And, as far as it is understood, traditional aeronautical rules apply for product, pilot and operator certification, as well as, for flight operations.

Part 107 clearly impacts several important provisions of the traditional aeronautical and regulatory framework. For example, Part 21, that states rules for product certification, changed as a function of the new resolution. It affects other provisions too: Part 43 (aircraft maintenance), Part 61 (pilot certification), Part 91 (general flight rules) and Part 119, which rules commercial operators of aircrafts. The use of this technology will make it more legally accessible, and it will bring nearly everyone in this field turned on.

Amongst potential impacts, at least one deserves highlight: Part 107 aircraft will be the first aircraft authorized for commercial use without being certified as an aeronautical product – without having a project approval and a type certificate. French, Italian and Swedish rules for small UAS, for instance, requires project approval for aircraft in serial production, regardless their weight or operational envelope. If the new rule is well understood, US authorities have just established a clear position that a sUAS does not need a project approval, nor any production quality assurance or closer, laying new grounds for more and new market actors.

This happens in spite of efforts made by ASTM F38 Committee in the last several years proposing airworthiness and quality assurance standards for sUAS. All of which appears to be overlooked by FAA.

This may be the effect of the UAS technological revolution advanced by Aeronautical Industry. And if so, it may well be the time for another revolution. A time where aircrafts will not be seen as an aeronautical product only, but as a new smart asset, poised to disrupt and break barriers with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Such revolution is unlikely to be captured by current market studies immediately. It will bring new insights about the use of UAVs and create new ways of doing things in the sky.

Let’s reinvent the future! Let’s safely fly UAVs. Let’s contribute with the future of flying!


This Post was first published on LinkedIn –>