As part of Kittyhawk’s efforts to inform policy that will affect the drone industry, we submitted comments to the FAA on their NPRM for Operations Over People and ANPRM for Safe and Secure Drone Operations based on our experiences and those of our users and customers. It is encouraging to see so many comments made by a diverse set of drone industry stakeholders who care about the future of our industry.

While the rules proposed in the NPRM are not perfect, they represent progress in allowing drone industry stakeholders to do more with their drones. Things never move as fast as we like, but even small steps forward in the rulemaking process are very important to the growth of the drone industry.

Remote ID is still a bottleneck:

We commented on the delay on Remote ID rulemaking, which pushed back a Remote ID NPRM from May 2019 until July 2019, and expressed our eagerness for Remote ID rulemaking to occur as soon as possible. Since the NPRM makes clear that Remote ID rulemaking will need to be completed before final rules on operations over people and at night are finalized, Remote ID is one of the most important next steps to push forward FAA rulemaking. We are looking forward to seeing the expected Remote ID NPRM this summer and commenting on those proposed rules.

The proposed rules for operating over people are too conservative:

Joining many other commenters, we noted that the rules for operating over people seem overly conservative and in practice, may make compliance with the new rule difficult. Additionally, we commented in support of the ability to fly over non-participating moving vehicles due to the low risk that activity presents if some safety precautions are taken and the operational opportunities that would be unlocked if those operations were allowed at scale.

Recurrent training over testing:

We commented in support of proposed requirements that would favor recurrent training over testing. Testing at a test center every two years is expensive, inconvenient, and encourages noncompliance. We support ways to make Internet-based recurrent training available through the Drone Zone or through a continuing education program like the FAA’s WINGS program for manned aviator currency.

The ANPRM:

Our comments in the ANPRM focused on three main areas: First, we commented on the need to move forward on Remote ID rulemaking in the context of UTM. Since Remote ID will need to be a component of a successful UTM system, it makes Remote ID even more important to focus on in the immediate future.

Second, we commented on our support for more flexible rules for altitude and speed limits for certain operations. In general, we want to give remote pilots the information to make smart safety decisions based on their specific operation. Since we can see many possible mission types where the remote pilot may need to fly faster than 100 mph or over 400 feet, the remote pilot should be able to do so if he or she can do it safely.

Third, we recommended that the FAA not include prescriptive rules or requirements for stand-off distances in any future NPRMs. As with altitude and speed limits, we support the remote pilot having maximum operational flexibility as long as the operation can be performed safely. In urban or suburban environments, stand-off distances may unnecessarily negatively impact certain operations due to nearby people who will not affect the safety of the operation.

You can view our responses on Regulations.gov or as PDFs. Click here for the NPRM, and click here for the ANPRM.

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