Here are some common myths about drones, accompanied by the clarifying facts:
Myth No. 1: Unmanned aircraft are not aircraft.
Fact: Unmanned aircraft, regardless of whether the operation is for recreational, hobby, business or commercial purposes, are aircraft within both the definitions found in federal statute.
This defines aircraft as “any contrivance invented, used or designed to navigate or fly in the air.” The FAA’s regulations 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.
Myth No. 2: Unmanned aircraft are not subject to FAA regulation.
Fact: All civil aircraft are subject to FAA regulation under law.
Myth No. 3: The FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet.
Fact: The FAA is responsible for air safety from the ground up.
The FAA has broad authority to prescribe regulations to protect individuals and property on the ground.
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.
Myth No. 4: UAS flights operated for commercial or business purposes are OK if the vehicle is small and operated over private property and below 400 feet.
Fact: 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.
Myth No. 5: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop.
Fact: 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.
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.
Myth No. 6: Commercial UAS operations will be OK after Sept. 30, 2015.
Fact: In the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation, Congress told the FAA to come up with a plan for “safe integration” of UAS by Sept. 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.
Myth No. 7: The FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones.
Fact: 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 necessary is a very complex task, and the FAA wants to ensure they get it right the first time.
They 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.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration