HR 658

Patrick Egan

Advocacy Update

RE: H.R. 658

Just a small follow up to a previous story run here at sUAS News about the language contained in the FAA reauthorization bill.  I had heartburn with the language, in that it continues the trend of being vague and general.  It give no clear cut directions to a regulator that is less than keen on Unmanned technology airspace integration. Management is leery of signing off on a potential disaster. However, it does happen. I will use commercial space flight to illustrate the liability hand off. The commercial space industry, through some skillful lobbying, got some very favorable language put into a bill that allows for economic viability. The Achilles heel for that industry is liability insurance, and most should be able to deduce exactly why that is without the author having to invoke the name of Shelly Winters.

The one section that I find the most potentially hazardous is as follows:

SEC. 322.  (2) (ii)

“to ensure that commercial unmanned aircraft systems include a sense and avoid capability, if necessary for safety purposes; and”

The glaring omission here… “beyond, Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).” Without the inclusion of VLOS, the sentence is left to regulatory interpretation and in its present form could potential hinder this industry for years to come.

Not to be accused of wanting everything to be perfect, I had authored my own amendment under the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association) banner and the proposed language is as follows:

“H.R. 658 proposed amendments. SEC.322

The secretary shall consider ways of incorporating/accepting community-based standards for small business use (entities building and operate under twenty vehicles per year), of sUAS under 4lbs. These craft shall be made to be “frangible” (ICAO definition) and constructed of wood, plastic, foam or other energy absorbing materials and fly no faster than 30 knots in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).  These sUAS operations under 400’ AGL and within 1500’ laterally will need to coordinate with local ATC when within 5 miles of a charted airport.”

I also had to find my own sponsor, which I did, although it appears to have been to late to make it into H.R. 658.  I have been preoccupied with my duties supporting the warfighter in what I like to call, the Shooting Overseas Contingency Operation.  I hope to reignite the torch of advocacy as I transition back into the civilian lifestyle.

Its being debated live 31st March 10:30PT


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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).