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Alert from the FAA on Demonstration Flights of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has notified the IAFC about some incidents and accidents during the demonstration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from consulting organizations and manufacturers of unmanned aircraft. However, an FAA review of these events appears to indicate a lack of regulatory and operational competency to include appropriate planned safety processes on the part of the presenters.

At the urging of the FAA, the IAFC recommends that departments solicited by vendors offering UAS demonstrational flights should ensure the parties providing the demonstration are meeting the safety requirements of the FAA and other applicable regulations. This includes a clear explanation of the planned safety measures they will provide during the demonstration to ensure the safety of the intended audience as well as people who may be in the operating area. 

Below is a list of some questions the FAA suggests your department asks the presenters before agreeing to any demonstration.  

  • If the unmanned aircraft weighs less than 55 lbs., ask the presenter to provide a copy of their Part 107 remote pilot certificate (if the aircraft weighs more than 55 lbs. ask for a copy of the 44807 exemption and Part 91 license) (examples of what a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, aircraft registration, and waivers look like can be found at the FAA website
  • Ask the presenter to provide a copy of the FAA registration for the aircraft. The aircraft must be registered, and the registration number marked externally on the aircraft.
  • Ask the demonstration team to explain if any approvals are needed from the FAA for the demonstration location. If the flight demonstration takes place within 5 miles of an airport with a control tower, the presenter should provide approval from the FAA through an application on their smartphone or tablet. You can check to make sure the area is legal to operate in by checking the FAA’s B4UFly App, which can be downloaded from the FAA website.
  • Ask the presenter to provide a document that explains the planned activities that will be demonstrated and a plan for ensuring the safety of observers during the demonstration to include safety checklists they will be following.
  • Ask the presenter to provide a copy of their liability insurance to ensure they can satisfy any claims for damage or injuries caused by their demonstration.  

If an incident should occur or you are in doubt about the competency of the company or individual presenting the demonstration, please contact the FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) or your local FAA Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) Special Agent. If you are unfamiliar with the LEAP agent in your area, you may e-mail LEAP@faa.gov. Additionally, you can contact the FAA’s UAS Support Center at UASHelp@faa.gov or 844-FLY-MY-UA.

Western ROC:
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY
206-231-2089 | 9-WSA-OPSCTR@faa.gov

Central ROC:
AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, Ml, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TX, WI
817-222-5006 | 9-CSA-ROC@faa.gov

Eastern ROC:
AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, MA, ME, MS, NC, NH, PR, RI, SC, TN, VI, VT DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV
404-305-5180 | 9-ESA-R0C@faa.gov

 

Ryan Woodward is a government relations manager with the IAFC.

 

 

 

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