MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello issued the following statement about the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerning operation and certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):
"The proposed rules issued by the FAA for the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will provide considerable potential business applications for MAPPS member firms in the aerial survey profession. According to the FAA, the following are examples of possible small UAS operations that could be conducted under the proposed regulations: Crop monitoring/inspection; Research and development; Educational/academic uses; Power-line/pipeline inspection in hilly or mountainous terrain; Antenna inspections; Aiding rescue operations such as locating snow avalanche victims; Bridge inspections; Aerial photography; and Wildlife nesting area evaluations.
In the past, MAPPS has worked closely with the FAA to enable the commercial use of small UAS (which, as defined by statute, is an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds) for aerial survey purposes through various mechanisms, such as special airworthiness certificates, exemptions, and certificates of waiver or authorization (COA). MAPPS will continue to support the proposed federal regulations, which will provide for the next phase of integrating small UAS into the national airspace system."
MAPPS will provide comments to the FAA concerning the proposed rules, and the association will continue to educate its member firms about operational limitations of small UAS in order to maintain the safety of the national airspace system and ensure that they do not pose a threat to national security.
As a member of a Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) working group advising the FAA on Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) regulations, Palatiello added, "Prompt implementation of the small, line-of-sight UAS rules will help strike the necessary balance between aviation safety and business development, but the next set of rules, governing beyond visual line of sight, need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible as well."
MAPPS Aviation Counsel Gregory S. Winton, Esq. said, "MAPPS has made the case that aerial geospatial data acquisition using UAS provides significant societal benefit and is NOT a threat to individual citizen privacy, and should be permitted to operate within a reasonable regulatory framework. It contributes to E911 emergency response and police dispatching systems, precision agriculture, environmental protection, emergency 'blue tarp' surveys to support hurricane response, engineering, transportation and infrastructure, electoral district maps, and many other applications. Geospatial data enables the delivery of critical government services and valuable business applications that citizens are demanding. The proposed FAA rule will enable this profession, which has an exemplary safety record and vast experience in manned aerial operations, to use of UAS safely, effectively and economically."