Advocacy Civil RCAPA

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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7 thoughts on “HR 658
  1. Yee-haw… It past and we only have to hang in there till the last half of 2015! I guess you get what you get when you’re complacent.

  2. so, the upcoming NPRM in a few months wont have anything in it pertaining to sUAS ops? We will have to wait till 2015 to play?

  3. Following are the amendments to HR 658 that will directly effect sUAS/UAS regulations. These may help our efforts but force the FAA to justify their regulations instead of carte blanche dictums. We have a better safety record than (so called) “safe” model airplanes.

    Miller (R-MI): Amendment No. 12: Directs the FAA to work with various federal agencies to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace system and would direct the Administrator to carry out safety studies to support such integration.

    Shuster (R-PA): Amendment No. 24—Requires the FAA rulemaking activities conduct certain industry analyses prior to issuing regulations, and require the FAA to subject proposed regulations to certain cost-benefit studies

  4. After sleeping on this… I believe it’s quite possible that the FAA may have been handed pass. The administrator has to sign off on the SFAR, and now he’s got specific direction contained in the language that says “no later than September 30, 2015.” We have yet found ourselves had once again.

  5. The major reason that Congress is involved in the UAS matter at all is that they feel (perhaps rightly)that the FAA and lobbyists have been “milking” (adding unneeded time for individuals to make more money or extend their contracts)the investigatory and develoment process.
    Both the Senate and House Bills are sending the message that “the cow runs dry” in 2015. The NPRM is supposed to be on the Secretary of Transportation’s desk next week (unless they delay it again). A delay at this point will certainly P.O. Congress and almost guarantee that Congress will jump all over the FAA in the Reconciliation Bill. IMHO, this is the best lesson in how the US Govt works that most of us have ever received.

  6. I believe you should edit your post and remove ‘(so called) “safe”‘ from it for two reasons:

    1. General logic dictates that any remotely piloted aircraft that is flown by a human pilot by line-of-sight has a simpler control system with much less to go wrong than an autonomous system that is flown with no interaction and relies solely on its programming, or one that is flown by remote POV and requires a two-way system.

    2. Model aircraft enthusiasts do not contend that they are safe, but that they have a proven track record of safe operation when flown under self-regulation.

    We model aircraft enthusiasts wouldn’t even have a problem with this if it weren’t for the rapid growth in your sector of aviation, so lay off – okay?

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