Posts Tagged ‘FAA’

Welcome, drone pilots!

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Think you have all the ratings? If newly proposed FAA rules on drones get approved–it will take two years–as written, there will be a new type of “pilot” certificate (only required for commercial drone use) called Unmanned Aerial Systems Operator. (Can “Rocket Pilot” be far behind?) Most rule comment periods are 60 days, but apparently that limitation has been tossed away. Here’s the good news. An early draft of the regulations says you need to go to a Knowledge Test Center to take the written test. No previous flying experience, medical certificate, or pilot certificate is required. It must be repeated every two years. If you are already a pilot, you still have to get a UAS operator certificate. First there is an application process. You have to be 17 or older. Following that applicants must visit a flight instructor who signs them off for the written test. All this means we have a pool of potential pilots coming to the airport soon, since that is where many Knowledge Test Centers are located. Do you suppose if we treat them as one of the pilot community, they might actually become private pilots? How many will there be? We can be a lot more optimistic than the FAA. The FAA thinks there will only be 7,500 commerical-use drone pilots in the United States five years after the drone regs take effect. I just checked a Web photography site called SLR (single-lens reflex) Lounge Beta, and I believe the estimate I found there that there are 100,000 wedding photographers out there who want to be competitive, so could there be 20,000 who might want to get a certificate? Now then, the National Association of Realtors said in 2007 there were two million real estate agents in the United States working for 109,000 firms. A few thousand firms may want their own drone, or at least sign a contract with a local drone pilot. So, another 10,000? We’re leaving out a bunch of industries here that may send people to the local Knowledge Test Center. Welcome to aviation, folks.

Editor’s note: You can get more details about the proposed rule and AOPA’s position on safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System in the story, “Proposed rules set limits on small UAS.”

FAA wants LSA paperwork to shine

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Update: There seems to be less to the FAA complaints against the light sport industry than it first appeared. It turns out there was a small sample of companies examined, and of those, less than a majority had problems.

The FAA found that a few light sport manufacturers are lousy at paperwork. The airplanes are  safe, say industry experts, but the light sport industry can’t prove it, retorts the FAA. The agency filed a notice here. Initial media stories interpreted the FAA action as a damning one for the LSA industry–and with good reason. The initial document issued by the FAA looks unnecessarily damning. See a Bloomberg/Business Week story on the subject here. While the FAA originally announced that companies not in compliance with the paperwork will not gain approval for future models, that now looks like only one company is guilty.

There was concern that some of the LSA companies could not contact customers or were out of business. I have no idea if that complaint involves one company or many, but I am betting one to three at the worst. Another issue concerned foreign LSA manufacturers–operating in a country that does not have proper agreements with the FAA–approving their airplanes through a third-party country that has the necessary agreements with the United States. Again, it now appears that is one company.

The FAA did not provide numbers or company names, but other sources provided a broader perspective of the FAA concerns. I know of one company that is rushing to make its paperwork better–and I also know they are pretty good people. They’ll make it right. If there are more, I will happily report the accurate number of companies in trouble. But right now it looks like very few.