Education, Compliance, and Enforcement of Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators

FAA Part 107

FAA-Puma1

1. Purpose of This Notice. This notice provides guidance to inspectors on the process of contact and education generally to be provided to individuals who are the subject of an inquiry relating to the unauthorized operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) under Public Law (PL) 112-95, FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012; Chapter 447 of Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.); 49 U.S.C. § 40102; and Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 1, § 1.1.

2. Audience. The primary audience for this notice is all regional Flight Standards  divisions (RFSD) and Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) aviation safety inspectors (ASI).

The secondary audience includes headquarters (HQ) Flight Standards Service (AFS) policy divisions responsible for implementation.

3. Where You Can Find This Notice. You can find this notice on the MyFAA employee Web site at https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices. Inspectors can access this notice through the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) at http://fsims.avs.faa.gov. Operators can find this notice on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Web site at http://fsims.faa.gov. This notice is available to the public at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices.

4. Background. On February 14, 2012 the President signed into law the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (PL 112-95), which established in Section 336 a “special rule for model aircraft.” This provision defines model aircraft as aircraft. Commercial UAS operations are prohibited without FAA authorization. The statute requires model aircraft to be flown strictly for hobby or recreational purposes and within the operator’s Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).

a. Ensuring Safe UAS Operations. The increasing number of UAS-related incident reports arising from some model aircraft and small UAS operations creates a potential risk to safety. In order to mitigate this risk, to ensure compliance, and thus ensure safe operations from this community, the FAA will use outreach and education to encourage voluntary compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements that pertain to UAS operations. When necessary and in the interest of aviation safety, however, the FAA will use administrative action or legal enforcement action to gain that compliance.

b. Conducting a UAS Investigation. This notice provides an outline and protocol for inspectors to educate alleged violators and, when necessary, conduct a UAS investigation. Steps to be taken include the following:

(1) Conduct an inquiry appropriate to the circumstances. The inquiry will include a phone call to the operator. This contact provides an educational outreach opportunity, and it should include a review of current UAS guidance and relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provisions.

(2) If warranted, send the operator an administrative informational letter that includes Web site addresses to FAA UAS guidance and relevant CFR provisions.

(3) In cases where the operator is uncooperative or intentionally noncompliant or the
operation poses medium to high risk to the NAS, proceed with enforcement action as outlined in the Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin.

(4) Enter the activity into the Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS)
database using the guidance in FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management
System (FSIMS), Volume 16. In addition to any comments, the inspector should list the
operator’s name in the non cert field (last name, first name).

5. Education, Compliance, and Enforcement Philosophy. In determining what action to take, ASIs will evaluate the extent of the safety risk to the NAS that arises from any noncompliance associated with the UAS operation. An ASI should start by using counseling or an informational letter to advise and educate a UAS operator about the requirements for regulatory compliance.

This type of approach is most appropriate when an ASI determines that regulatory compliance will likely be achieved by informing the operator about how to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements. These informational letters will be strictly advisory in nature, and will serve to provide the UAS operator with guidance on how to conduct operations in accordance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

A template informational letter is attached as Appendix C.

a. NAS Enforcement Action. When an operator is uncooperative or intentionally noncompliant or the operation poses medium to high risk to the NAS, enforcement action may be appropriate. In addition, repeat or intentional violations generally warrant legal enforcement action. In these cases, inspectors should follow the guidance provided in Chapter 5 of the current edition of FAA Order 2150.3, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program, and the Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin No. 2014-2.

b. Administrative vs. Legal Enforcement Action. Inspector questions regarding how to evaluate a particular case with respect to taking administrative versus legal enforcement action should be coordinated with the UAS Integration Office (AFS-80) or the appropriate Regional

Counsel’s Office. With regard to cases that require legal enforcement action, AFS-80 will prepare a memo to the appropriate legal counsel’s office recommending an appropriate sanction based on the facts of the case and in accordance with the guidance in Order 2150.3 and the Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin No. 2014-2. 27/15/14 N 8900.268

6. Action. Until further notice, the following compliance program is in effect for all possible violations of statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to UAS operations. As resources become available based on safety priorities, ASIs are expected to investigate complaints in accordance with FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 7, and use their judgment in determining the appropriate course of action. If the investigating inspector requires additional guidance or technical information concerning UAS operations, he or she should contact the UAS specialist located within the 220 branch in the regional office. In general:

a. Counsel the Operator. The first action is to counsel the operator and, if warranted, send an informational letter to inform the operator how to achieve and maintain compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.

b. Consider Enforcement Action. If the UAS operator is uncooperative or intentionally noncompliant (e.g., repeat or intentional violations) or the operation poses medium to high risk to the NAS, the inspector should consider enforcement action in accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin.

7. Guidance.
a. Appendices. AFS-80 developed this notice. This notice contains the following documents:
• Appendix A, FAA Modernization and Reform Act Model Aircraft Sections.
• Appendix B, Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
• Appendix C, UAS Informational Letter Template for Inspectors.

b. Reference Documents (current editions):
• FAA Notice N 8900.227, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operational Approval.
• FAA Order 8130.34, Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and

Optionally Piloted Aircraft.

8. Disposition. We will permanently incorporate the information in this notice into Order 8900.1 before this notice expires. Direct questions concerning the information in this notice to AFS-80 at 202-267-8306.

John Barbagallo
Acting Deputy Director, Flight Standards Service

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Notice/N_8900.268.pdf