The new rule, published Aug. 25 in the Federal Register, requires reporting of accidents involving unmanned aircraft in which a person is killed or seriously injured, or the aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage. AOPA supports the collection of this data so that the industry can better understand the impact of introducing unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System.
“As pilots, we rely on the principle of ‘see and avoid’ for safe operations in the National Airspace System,” said AOPA Vice President of Operations and International Affairs Craig Spence. “Because unmanned aircraft systems currently lack the necessary technologies to operate safely in this environment, AOPA continues to express concern about the potential collision hazard of UAS. This data will help the industry better understand how the systems operate and what goes wrong in an accident or incident.”
AOPA supported the rule when it was proposed in 2008. While the association supports granting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) access to the National Airspace System, it maintains that UAS operation in the system should not have a negative impact on general aviation operations and should not require specially designated airspace for UAS operation.
The rule does not address small UAS. AOPA participated in a rulemaking committee that provided recommendations for the integration of small UAS into the national airspace system in 2009; the group recommended only line-of-site operations limited to certain classes of airspace for those aircraft, particularly ones less than 55 pounds operating below 1,200 feet.