If unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are going to share the same airspace with manned aircraft, they need to meet the same certification and airworthiness standards, AOPA said in its formal comments to an FAA policy document.
AOPA has been pressing the FAA to make sure unregulated UAVs stay out of navigable airspace. Unfortunately, FAA regulations have not kept up with research and development. In the policy document, the FAA reaffirms its responsibility for the operation of UAVs. While AOPA said it's a good first step, certification of UAVs is important to ensure safety and make sure UAV operations don't result in more flight restrictions.
"In a recent AOPA survey, nearly 95 percent of our members told us that UAVs should be required to follow the same operating rules as manned aircraft," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "This means that UAVs must have the ability to see and avoid manned aircraft."
Cebula further pointed out that UAVs must be able to immediately respond to instructions from air traffic control.
The policy document says that no person may operate a UAV in the National Airspace System without specific authority. Further, the document acknowledges that new regulatory standards need to be developed.
For more information, see AOPA's updated issue brief.
April 12, 2007