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Pendleton UAS Range Code of Conduct
The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as a resource for a wide variety of public and private applications quite possibly represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the scientific community, and public service since the beginning of flight. Rapid advancements in the technology have presented unique challenges and opportunities to the growing UAS industry and to those who support it. The nature of UAS and the environments which they operate, when not managed properly, can and will create issues that need to be addressed. The future of UAS will be linked to the responsible and safe use of these systems. Our industry has an obligation to conduct our operations in a safe manner that minimizes risk and instills confidence in our systems.
For this reason, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), offers this Code of Conduct on behalf of the UAS industry for UAS operation. This code is intended to provide our members, and those who design, test, and operate UAS for public and civil use, a set of guidelines and recommendations for safe, non-intrusive operations. Acceptance and adherence to this code will contribute to safety and professionalism and will accelerate public confidence in these systems.
The code is built on three specific themes: Safety, Professionalism, and Respect. Each theme and its associated recommendations represent a “common sense” approach to UAS operations and address many of the concerns expressed by the public and regulators. This code is meant to provide UAS industry manufacturers and users a convenient checklist for operations and a means to demonstrate their obligation to supporting the growth of our industry in a safe and responsible manner. By adopting this Code, UAS industry manufacturers and users commit to the following:
- We will not operate UAS in a manner that presents undue risk to persons or property on the surface or in the air.
- We will ensure UAS will be piloted by individuals who are properly trained and competent to operate the vehicle or its systems.
- We will ensure UAS flights will be conducted only after a thorough assessment of risks associated with the activity. This risks assessment will include, but is not limited to:
- Weather conditions relative to the performance capability of the system
- Identification of normally anticipated failure modes (lost link, power plant failures, loss of control, etc) and consequences of the failures
- Crew fitness for flight operations
- Overlying airspace, compliance with aviation regulations as appropriate to the operation, and off-nominal procedures
- Communication, command, control, and payload frequency spectrum requirements
- Reliability, performance, and airworthiness to established standards
- We will comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, covenants, and restrictions as they relate to UAS operations.
- We will operate our systems as responsible members of the aviation community.
- We will be responsive to the needs of the public.
- We will cooperate fully with federal, state, and local authorities in response to emergency deployments, mishap investigations, and media relations.
- We will establish contingency plans for all anticipated off-nominal events and share them openly with all appropriate authorities.
- We will respect the rights of other users of the airspace.
- We will respect the privacy of individuals.
- We will respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations.
- We will support improving public awareness and education on the operation of UAS.
As an industry, it is incumbent upon us to hold ourselves and each other to a high professional and ethical standard. As with any revolutionary technology, there will be mishaps and abuses; however, in order to operate safely and gain public acceptance and trust, we should all act in accordance with these guiding themes and do so in an open and transparent manner.
What are the privacy requirements for test sites?The requirements were developed with public input and the final requirements were published on November 14, 2013 in the Federal Register. Among other requirements, test site operators must:
• Comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy;
• Have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention; and
• Conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.
Does the FAA expect to issue additional privacy guidelines for UAS use outside of the test sites?FAA’s primary mission is aviation safety. The FAA does not have legal authority to issue privacy guidelines for aircraft, nor are they seeking this authority. The FAA is engaged in a multi-agency approach to address privacy issues outside of the UAS Test Sites.
Are unmanned aircraft not “real” aircraft?Unmanned aircraft, regardless of whether the operation is for recreational, hobby, business, or commercial purposes, are aircraft within both the definitions found in statute under title 49 of U.S. Code, section 40102(a)(6) [49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6)] and title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations section 1.1.[14 C.F.R. § 1.1].
Section 40102(a)(6) defines an aircraft as “any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate or fly in the air.” The FAA’s regulations (14 C.F.R. § 1.1.) similarly define an aircraft as “a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.” Because an unmanned aircraft is a contrivance/device that is invented, used, and designed to fly in the air, an unmanned aircraft is an aircraft based on the unambiguous language in the FAA’s statute and regulations.
In addition, Public Law 112-95, Section 331(6),(8), and (9) expressly defines the terms “small unmanned aircraft,” “unmanned aircraft,” and “unmanned aircraft system” as aircraft. Model aircraft are also defined as “aircraft” per Public Law 112-95, section 336(c).
Are unmanned aircraft not subject to FAA regulation?All civil aircraft are subject to FAA regulation under law: 49 U.S.C. § 44701. For example, 14 C.F.R. part 91 applies generally to the operation of aircraft.
Does the FAA control airspace below 400 feet?The FAA is responsible for air safety from the ground up. Under 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(2), the FAA has broad authority to prescribe regulations to protect individuals and property on the ground and to prevent collisions between aircraft, between aircraft and land or water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne objects. Consistent with its authority, the FAA presently has regulations that apply to the operation of all aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, and irrespective of the altitude at which the aircraft is operating. For example, 14 C.F.R. § 91.13 prohibits any person from operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.
Are UAS flights operated for commercial or business purposes are OK if the vehicle is small and operated over private property and below 400 feet?All UAS operations for commercial or business purposes are subject to FAA regulation. At a minimum, any such flights require a certified aircraft and a certificated pilot. UAS operations for commercial or business purposes cannot be operated under the special rule for model aircraft found in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
To date, only two UAS models (the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma) have been certified for commercial use, and they are only authorized to fly in the Arctic. Public entities (federal, state and local governments and public universities) may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). The FAA reviews and approves UAS operations over densely-populated areas on a case-by-case basis.
Are commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations?There are no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval. Private sector (civil) users can obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate to conduct research and development, training and flight demonstrations. Commercial UAS operations are limited and require the operator to have certified aircraft and pilots, as well as operating approval. To date, only two UAS models (the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma) have been certified, and they can only fly in the Arctic. Public entities (federal, state and local governments, and public universities) may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA)
The FAA reviews and approves UAS operations over densely-populated areas on a case-by-case basis. Flying model aircraft solely for hobby or recreational reasons does not require FAA approval. However, hobbyists are advised to operate their aircraft in accordance with the agency’s model aircraft guidelines (see Advisory Circular 91-57). In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95, Sec 336), Congress exempted model aircraft from new rules or regulations provided the aircraft are operated “in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization.” The FAA and the Academy of Model Aeronautics recently signed a first-ever agreement that formalizes a working relationship and establishes a partnership for advancing safe model UAS operations. This agreement also lays the ground work for enacting the model aircraft provisions of Public Law 112-95, Sec 336. Modelers operating under the provisions of P.L. 112-95, Sec 336 must comply with the safety guidelines of a nationwide community-based organization.
Are there are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop?The FAA has to prioritize its safety responsibilities, but the agency is monitoring UAS operations closely. Many times, the FAA learns about suspected commercial UAS operations via a complaint from the public or other businesses. The agency occasionally discovers such operations through the news media or postings on internet sites. When the FAA discovers UAS operations in violation of the FAA’s regulations, the agency has a number of enforcement tools available to address these operations, including a verbal warning, a warning letter, and legal enforcement action.
Will commercial UAS operations be OK after September 30, 2015?In the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation (Public Law 112-95), Congress told the FAA to come up with a plan for “safe integration” of UAS by September 30, 2015. Safe integration will be incremental. The agency is writing regulations, which will supplement existing regulations that currently are applicable to the operation of all aircraft (both manned and unmanned), that will apply more specifically to a wide variety of UAS users. The FAA expects to publish a proposed rule for small UAS – under about 55 pounds – later this year. That proposed rule likely will include provisions for commercial operations.
Is the FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones?This comparison is flawed. The United States has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world, including many general aviation aircraft that we must consider when planning UAS integration, because those same airplanes and small UAS may occupy the same airspace.
Developing all the rules and standards we need is a very complex task, and we want to make sure we get it right the first time. We want to strike the right balance of requirements for UAS to help foster growth in an emerging industry with a wide range of potential uses, but also keep all airspace users and people on the ground safe.
Does the FAA predict as many as 30,000 drones by 2030?That figure is outdated. It was an estimate in the FAA’s 2011 Aerospace Forecast. Since then, the agency has refined its prediction to focus on the area of greatest expected growth.
We believe that the civil UAS markets will evolve within the constraints of the regulatory and airspace requirements. Once enabled, commercial markets will develop and demand will be created for additional UAS and the accompanying services they can provide. Once enabled, we estimate roughly 7,500 commercial sUAS would be viable at the end of five years.
What criteria did the FAA use in choosing the test sites?In selecting the six test sites, the FAA considered geographic diversity, climatic diversity, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience, risk and economic impact.
All the proposals were quality submissions, and the FAA reviewed them very carefully. They chose the set of six proposals that best meets FAA research goals.
Will states not selected to be a test range, still have opportunity to be involved as UAS integration moves forward?Yes, states not selected for a test range can still be involved. They may partner with the selected UAS test sites or they may pursue standing up their own UAS test site. However, FAA resources will be prioritized to assist with standing up the six selected test sites first.
What are the next steps for the test sites now that the FAA announced them?The FAA is working to have the first of the six sites operational within 180 days. These sites will promote critical research into the certification and operational requirements necessary to safely integrate these systems into our national airspace. And they’re excited about this major step forward towards expanded UAS use.
Why is the FAA standing them up one by one, why not do them all at once?Since the final approval of test site operations will be based on the operator’s ability to meet safety requirements, the FAA’s limited resources require us to stand up the test sites sequentially vs. concurrently. The FAA will stand up the first test site within 180 days from December 30 in accordance with the 2012 Reauthorization. Remaining test sites will follow as quickly as possible.
What is the order of standing up the test ranges?
How long will the test ranges be in operation?The test sites may operate until at least February 2017, per the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
How will the FAA use the data collected at the test sites?Relevant data from the test sites will feed into the requirements being developed to support UAS integration. This includes providing information to support development of certification procedures, airworthiness standards, operational requirements, maintenance procedures, and safety oversight activities for UAS civil applications and operations.
How will the test sites help the FAA meet the congressional mandate for integrating UAS by September 30, 2015?The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 calls for “safe integration” of UAS by 2015. It’s important to remember that integration will occur in stages. The intent of the legislation is for the FAA to have a specific plan with milestones and to show progress against these milestones.
Research findings from the six test site operators will help answer key integration-related questions, such as solutions for “detect and avoid,” command and control, ground control station standards and human factors, airworthiness, lost link procedures and the interface with the air traffic control system.
What is the FAA's budget for the Test Site Program?The site operators and users will provide funding for their research activities. Congress has not appropriated federal funds for test site operations or research.
Is the FAA coordinating with NASA on the test site program and UAS research generally?Yes, They’re working closely with NASA:
Test Sites – The FAA coordinated with and leveraged the resources of NASA for establishing the six test sites, per the legislative direction. Specifically, NASA assisted in the evaluation of applicant submittals.
UAS Research Generally – The FAA has partnered with NASA to determine how UAS research, assets, and capabilities can be leveraged between our two agencies and duplication of effort can be minimized. The FAA has provided Subject Matter Experts to NASA’s “UAS in the NAS” Project to review their research objectives and assumptions.
The FAA and the NASA have also provided access to each other’s research information, documentation, test plans, test reports and other related UAS knowledge. Team meetings and program reviews are held on a regular basis, and an Interagency Agreement has been approved that allows the FAA to work across the NASA centers.