The FAA has published the findings of the Micro Aviation Rulemaking Committee (Micro ARC) recommending risk-based categories for drone flight over people. While not bound by the committee’s recommendations, the FAA says that they are reviewing them.
“We commend the committee members for their sincere dedication and for producing a comprehensive report in such a short time,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, in a statement published today. “This type of collaborative government and industry partnership is exactly what is needed to keep pace with this rapidly changing industry and will serve as a model for future rulemaking advisory tasks.”
The Micro ARC recommendations were leaked by the Associated Press as soon as they were delivered to the FAA, describing the four risk-based categories for flight over people. Details described in the recommendations document include the way that drones will be certified as meeting the requirements: at the manufacturer. While the document says that some parties proposed having the FAA certify drones or having an independent third party do so, the majority felt that this would add an additional burdensome layer to the process, slowing it down unnecessarily. Instead, the committee proposes a system of marking in accordance with the category requirements at the manufacturer.
In addition, the committee vetoed the proposals of ALPA and other members that all commercial drone operators be required to take an on-site test and undergo background checks: most members felt that such an onerous process would only discourage compliance for operators of small drones.
Manufacturer DJI, who recently announced the formation of the Drone Manufacturers Alliance with 3DR, Parrot, and GoPro, applauded the committee’s efforts. In a statement released today, DJI commended the “common sense” approach proposed: “The FAA chartered this committee to enable the tremendous benefits of drone technology while ensuring the safety of the skies and the general public,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “We are pleased that the committee recommends a progressive approach that successfully balances these interests.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.