In this post, we look at the global regulatory framework with respect to Beyond Visual Line of Sight ("BVLOS") Operations,1 with a specific focus at the United States and Europe. We begin by describing the regulatory drone framework in the United States of America and Europe in brief (II), followed by an analysis of BVLOS regulations in the U.S. (III), and Europe (IV). Part V examines the relationship between Unmanned Traffic Management ("UTM") and BVLOS operations and Part VI concludes with suggestions for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ("DGCA"), on issues regarding improving DGCA-industry understanding, security, transparency, industry collaboration, and communications. The post will highlight the parameters used by regulators in the US and EU to assess operational risk and mitigation measures proposed for BVLOS operations.
II. REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
A. United States of America
In the United States, drones are divided into three categories and governed through three separate regulatory frameworks:
- Drone operations solely for recreation or hobby purposes,2 which have to be registered and fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace.3 BVLOS operations are not permitted within the recreational drone framework, since recreational flyers must also always keep their drone within their visual line of sight or within the visual line of sight of a visual observer, who is co-located next to the pilot and in direct communication with her.
- Operations of small drones ("sUAS"), which weigh less than 55 lbs (around 25kgs), have to be registered and are used for any purpose other than a recreational or hobby purpose.4 These commercial drones are regulated under CFR Part 107 and are not permitted to conduct BVLOS operations or operate over people, unless they get a 'waiver' from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Part 107 drones will be the focus of this post.
- Operations of drones weighing 55 lbs (around 25kgs) or more, which require an exemption under the law to fly.6
Based on existing European Regulation,7 the European Commission adopted the Commission Implementing Regulation8 and the Commission Delegated Regulation9 (collectively "Drone Rules") in June 2019 to frame common rules to ensure a level playing field for drones within the EU.10 The Drone Rules will go through a transition period till 2022, during which period, they will become gradually applicable.
The EU Aviation Safety Agency ("EASA") has developed a three-pronged framework for regulating the operations of drones based on risk-categories:11
- Open - these are low risk category operations, conducted with 'CE' marked drones12 from 250gm up to 25kg, that do not require prior authorization or prior declaration by the drone operator before being flown. During the transition period mentioned above, operations with CE marked drones can be conducted within the open category. BVLOS operations cannot be included within the open category.13
- Specific - are medium risk category operations that require in principle prior authorization, risk assessment, and detailed mitigation measures before being permitted to operate, unless conducted within a 'Standard Scenario' (pre-established risk assessment). Operations within this category can include BVLOS operations. A standard scenario is available for BVLOS operations over sparely populated/controlled ground areas.14
- Certified - these are the highest risk category operations, such as delivery of dangerous goods or passenger drones,15 Rules for certified operations are likely to be similar to rules for manned aviation, although their regulation framework is still under development.16
III. BVLOS OPERATIONS IN THE U.S.
Part 107 of the FAA's sUAS Rules only permits visual line of sight operations ("VLOS"), namely that the drone must remain either within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the individual manipulating the flight controls of the drone; or remain within the VLOS of the visual observer.17
Any drone that does not comply with Part 107 Rules (i.e. it flies at night, or flies over people) needs a "waiver" from the FAA. 18 BVLOS operations, namely when the operator wishes to "fly a UAS beyond your ability to clearly determine its orientation with unaided vision", require express FAA waivers under §107.31. The FAA attempts to process all waiver requests within 90 days of submissions.19
Waiver application process
The FAA has a highly simplified process for applying for waivers, which it has elaborated in the form of the following documents and webinars:
1. The waiver application process - there is a document that explains in detail how to fill out the waiver application form through the various tabs present in the form, such as the tabs for party information, drone information, the applicable sub-section of Part 107, and review of information. A webinar further elaborates on how this waiver application will have to be submitted on FAA's 'DroneZone' website (similar to India's DigitalSky Platform), depending on the nature of waiver being sought, i.e. whether for BVLOS operations or night time flying. The FAA explains that its webinars are meant to 'demystify' the waiver application process and to improve communication between the FAA and the drone operators, which is why they also include a live Q&A session with drone operators and other stakeholders at the end of the webinars.
2. How to complete a risk assessment for successful waiver applications - the FAA has released a webinar on how to identify, assess, and mitigate risks posed by the drone operations and how to incorporate them in the waiver application process. Applicants are informed that they must provide justification to establish the safety of their operations, they must submit hazard identification (e.g. overhead power lines or approaching sunset) and risk mitigation strategies (using a risk assessment matrix which compares the likelihood with the severity of the event). The FAA also encourages operators and pilots to be familiar with the FAA Risk Management Handbook and the Risk Assessment Tools (at Appendix A) .
- As an example, consider a situation where the risk of drone failure can put a drone near/within pedestrian traffic on a pathway. In such a situation, the FAA elaborates that the risk mitigation measures that must be put in place by drone operators to prevent an accident is to employ two visual observers to notify them of pedestrian traffic or establish 'escape paths' for 'de-conflicting with pedestrian traffic.'
- Another instance of a mitigation measure suggested by the FAA to reduce the risk of approaching sunset is to ensure that the drone is equipped with anti-collision lighting, visible for at least three statute miles and/or to establish a 'hard' stop at least ten minutes before official twilight time.
- The top 3 mistakes identified by the FAA in operators filling out the risk assessment in their waiver applications include not identifying hazards, not putting in place sufficient mitigation measures, and making too many assumptions.
- A screenshot of the risk assessment matrix as suggested by the FAA is below:
3. How to properly prepare a drone safety case - FAA's webinar focuses on the recurrence of data mistakes and the importance of quality of data in the waiver application instructions, specifically under the columns of operational title, responsible person, organisation, and operation parameters (providing a proposed start and end date of operation and location of the drone). FAA has a mechanism of sending Requests for Information to drone operators for additional information on their waiver explanation, and it has reported that delay in replying to such requests often delays the waiver process.
The FAA has specifically provided for emergency operations such as law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue etc., where first responders and other organisations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations may apply for expedited waiver approval under certain conditions.20
Connected to the idea of risk assessment, is the compliance with the relevant waiver safety explanation guidelines during the waiver application process. This provides guidance for operators to describe their proposed operation and their possible operational risks and methods to lessen/mitigate those risks.
Details about the proposed operation include
- Operational details, such as the latitude, longitude and the detailed map of planned flight area; whether flying in a controlled airspace; and whether flying over rural/urban/restricted area.
- Drone details, such as its power or energy source in flight, size of drone, how it ensures containment (geo-fencing, tether etc.), and maximum flight time, speed, and range.
- Pilot/Personnel Details such as minimum level of experience, training, and testing information.
Mitigation measures that have to be provided by the operators as part of their waiver application process have to address two specific questions: (i) how they will ensure the safety of their operations at all times, even in unusual circumstances; and (ii) what are the different circumstances that could arise, and what plans have been put in place to handle it. This could include using operating limitations, technology, additional training, equipment, personnel, restricted access areas, etc.
Some of the operational risk and mitigation measures that are considered by the FAA while granting a waiver for BVLOS operations include an assessment of:
- How the Remote Pilot in Command ("RPIC") will be able to continuously establish the position, altitude, attitude (orientation, deck angle etc.), and movement of the drone to ensure that it remains in the area of intended operations and functionality. The operator has to also provide for a back-up method for the RPIC to maintain the accuracy of such information, in case the primary method of maintaining this awareness fails.
- How the RPIC will avoid other aircrafts, flying over/into people on the ground, and ground-based structures and obstacles at all times while operating BVLOS. This will include information on the equipment used for 'detect-and-avoid'; or the use of a Visual Observer for 'see-and-avoid' by the operators; as well as the procedure adopted by the RPIC to identify and avoid flying over/into persons on ground. The FAA encourages operators to provide testing data to demonstrate system reliability and limitations.
- How the RPIC will be alerted if a drone malfunctions or suffers from degraded capability while flying BVLOS, and what response measures it will undertake. Operators are encouraged to provide a determined level of reliability of the drone, based on certain specified parameters.
- How the drone will function if the GPS fails to provide location information or if there is sudden cloud development
As a measure of transparency, the FAA publishes all operational drone waivers on its website as well as a waiver trend analysis,21 to identify trends to help applicants determine the type and quality of information needed to improve their chances of approval. The FAA publishes separate trend analyses for waiver applications for BVLOS operations, night operations, and operations over people.
For instance, the BVLOS waiver trend analysis reveals that operators have to give detailed information regarding the command and control link and emitters performance capabilities; the detect-and-avoid methods employed; weather tracking and operational limitations (e.g. the drone's wind speed and manufacturer's limitations); and training requirements for pilots and other participating persons. This can be demonstrated from the screenshot of the BVLOS waiver trend analysis below:
In August 2019, the FAA authorised the Kansas Department of Transportation to conduct the first ever BVLOS operation in the country, leveraging only onboard detect-and-avoid systems. This was the first ever authorized BVLOS operation that could fly without a requirement for Visual Observers or ground-based radar. It thus marks the first required automated avoidance action, since all Part 107 BVLOS waivers prior to this, required Visual Observers or ground-based radar. 22 The authorisation was the result of a collaborative effort between the state (Kansas Department of Transportation), academia (Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus), and industry (Westar Energy and Iris Automation), and was used for launching a nine-mile track to evaluate technologies to inspect power lines in rural Kansas. This is a significant development with the ability to expand the potential and efficiency of BVLOS operations, while scaling down their costs.
Moving beyond Part 107
Notably, all these drones, as long as they weigh over 0.55 lbs (250 gm), are also classified as aircrafts, which means that other provisions of the Federal Aviation Regulations also apply. One of these sections is CFR Part 135, which is a more demanding provision that applies to 'air carriers' carrying out interstate on-demand (involving rotorcrafts or airplanes) and commuter operations (cumulatively termed as, 'air-carrier' operations).23 The FAA has a five step certification process for Part 135, which comprises of the pre-application, application, design assessment, performance assessment, and administrative function stages. This certification has been adapted for drone operations - for instance, by granting exemptions for requirements such as carrying flight manuals on board the aircraft.24 The FAA has been encouraging innovation, including in package delivery of drones, through Part 135 air carrier certification to participants in the 'Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP)' On its website, the FAA makes clear that "Part 135 certification is the only path for small drones to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight."
Amongst the various types of certificates issued under Part 135 is the 'Standard' Part 135 certificate, where the operator has no pre-set limits on the size or scope of their operations, as long each type of operation has been authorised by the FAA. Such operators have to maintain manuals and training programs.25 (To get a better insight on the procedure and processes involved in successfully obtaining Part 135 certifications, readers can watch this interview with a drone operator here).
The FAA issued UPS Flight Forward Inc. the first Standard Part 135 air carrier certificate in September 2019 to operate a drone to deliver a package of medical supplies in a BVLOS operation to a hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.26 In October 2019, FAA issued Wing LLC another Part 135 certificate to operate a drone to deliver food and over the counter medicines directly to homes in Christiansburg, Virginia. Both UPS and Wing LLC are participants in the IPP.27
Companies such as Amazon and UPS have traditionally applied under Part 135 for package delivery drone operations, even though it involves a five stage certification process compared to Part 107 operations. This is partly because individual waivers under Part 107 would be required for carrying out BVLOS operations and drone operations over people, which may not be easily repeatable, given the diversity and number of missions expected of such operations.28 However, some within the US drone industry believe that package drone delivery can also take place under Part 107, as long as it is intra-state and has a BVLOS waiver and an operation over people waiver.29
In February 2020, the FAA issued a Proposed Notice of Policy, calling for comments, for certifying certain drones meant for package delivery as a "special class of aircraft" under the FAA Regulations (14 CFR §?21.17(b), usually meant for gliders or balloons). These rules, building on FAA's previous regulations on sUAS and its previous Notice for Proposed Rule Making for remote ID for drones, are another step to fully integrate drones into the National Air Space. The FAA's policy expressly states "Many long-term activities are required for full integration of present and future UAS operations, including the delivery of packages and transportation of people. The UAS affected by this policy will include those used for package delivery. Future FAA activity, through either further policy or rulemaking, will address type certification for UAS carrying occupants."
IV. BVLOS OPERATIONS IN EUROPE
BVLOS operations are permitted within the 'specific' category of drones in Europe, although to be able to conduct the operation within 'Standard Scenario 2',30 they have to be carried out in a controlled ground area over sparsely populated areas.31
Operational risk assessment
To conduct a BVLOS operation not within the framework of Standard Scenario 2, the European Drone Rules apply proportionate risk mitigation requirements based on the level of risk involved, the operational characteristics of the drone and the characteristics of the area of operation.32 An operational risk assessment shall take into account whether the drone operation is being conducted BVLOS33 and derives from the specific operation risk assessment (SORA)34 developed byJoint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) (an expert group, comprising of members from the EASA and individual nations),containing the following steps:
- Describing the Concept of Operations - which includes the technical, operational and system information needed to assess the risk associated with the intended drone operation. This will involve describing whether the operation is BVLOS, the population density over which it will fly, and the type of airspace (segregated or integrated) that will be used.
- Determining the intrinsic ground risk class ("GRC") - which is the risk of a person being struck by a drone. Establishing the intrinsic GRC requires the drone dimensions (wingspan, blade diameter etc.), the position keeping ability of the drone, flight technical error, path definitional error, latencies, and whether the area is a controlled ground area. If the GRC is more than 7, the operator has to look at other processes such as applying under the 'certified' category or making fresh application with a modified Concept of Operations. As the table below demonstrates, currently, the intrinsic GRC for the conduct of BVLOS operations in a populated environment or over a gathering of people is yet to be decided, and will be determined in future editions of the SORA.
- Determining the air risk class - to determine the intrinsic risk of a mid-air collision or the rate at which a drone would encounter a manned aircraft in typical generalised civil airspace. The risk levels can be reduced by applying the requisite strategic mitigation measures, such as operating during certain time periods only or within certain boundaries. Regardless of the risk assessment, the drone operator is encouraged to think of technical solutions to increase the detectability and electronic conspicuousness of the drone in the airspace.
- Identifying the tactical mitigation performance requirements ("TMPR") and robustness levels - which can reduce any residual risk of a mid-air collision that is needed to achieve the applicable airspace safety objective. TMPRs for BVLOS operations require machine assistance, viz an alternate means of mitigation to human vision, and take the form of detect and avoid (DAA) systems (whether ground based or air based DAA, or a combination of the two) or other means, such as ATC separation services, U-space services or traffic collision avoidance systems. TMPR provides tactical mitigations to help the pilot in detecting and avoiding traffic under BVLOS conditions. Operational flights under VLOS, unlike BVLOS, do not need to meet the TMPR or the TMPR robustness requirements
- Establishing the specific assurance and integrity level ("SAIL") determination - which consolidates the ground and air risk analyses and represents the confidence level that the drone operation will remain under control. This is a quantitative figure with 1 representing the highest confidence level and 6 representing the lowest confidence level (i.e. the highest risk operation, for instance, where the GRC is 7).
- Identifying the operational safety objectives ("OSO") - by using the SAIL to evaluate the defensiveness of the operations and ensure safe operations. Some OSOs include considering whether the drone is manufactured by a competent entity, C3 link performance is appropriate for the operation, remote training of the crew, adverse environmental conditions, possibility of human error and deterioration of external systems supporting drone operations.
- Making the relevant airspace and adjacent area considerations - to address the risk posed by a loss of control of the drone operation, thereby infringing the adjacent areas on the ground and/or adjacent airspace.
- Conducting a comprehensive safety portfolio, which considers whether the strategic and tactical mitigation measures and OSO are met with a sufficient level of confidence that the drone operation will be safely conducted.
To improve security measures in BVLOS operations, drone operators will have to develop their knowledge over the means to monitor the drones (its position, height, speed, C2 Link, systems status, etc.); the means to communicate with it (through Visual Observers), and the means to support air traffic awareness (such as through Visual Observers).
In April 2020, the EASA issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment to clarify the conditions under which a BVLOS operation over a populated area or an assembly of people can be authorized under the 'specific' category of the EASA regulatory framework. The EASA has classified these operations as high-risk, regardless of the mitigation measures employed and hence, it has proposed the application of the highest level, SAIL VI and the highest level of robustness for OSOs.
This table provided in the Proposed Amendment provides a summary of the categories for VLOS and BVLOS.
The proposed amendments have been necessitated by the fact that the rules for conducting an operational risk assessment of the Implementing Regulations does not define the intrinsic ground risk classes for BVLOS operations over a populated area and over an assembly of people. The EASA has said that it expects the proposed amendments to enhance safety, improve harmonisation among EASA Member States, and "facilitate societal acceptance of UAS BVLOS operations in the 'specific' category".
One of the reasons that BVLOS operations have not reached the same level of popularity in Europe as in the U.S. is that BVLOS operations often require segregated airspaces as a risk-mitigation measure, which requires wider consultations amongst all the European stakeholders (the air navigation service providers, military, local airspace management cells).35 Till the European Drone Rules come into effect, national authorities will continue regulating BVLOS operations differently, depending on their specific considerations.
For instance, in the UK, operators need to apply for an exemption and submit a safety case (including a risk assessment) to be able to undertake BVLOS operations. They have to further demonstrate either a technical capability of detect-and-avoid (which is the equivalent of a manned aircraft pilot's ability to see-and-avoid); or they have to operate in a segregated airspace where there is no risk of collision with manned aircrafts; or they have to submit clear evidence that their operations will not pose an aviation threat.36 The UK Civil Aviation Authority also runs an Innovation Sandbox Project to foster collaboration with the industry and trial new aviation solutions outside the regulatory framework.
In May 2020, Boeing signed an MOU with the Civil Aviation Authority as part of the sandbox project to transition to BVLOS operations in a non-segregated airspace through requirements such as detect-and-avoid capability; to develop a proposed set of operational procedures to support BVLOS operations; and to review a safety case for BVLOS operations above 400 feet.37
In Switzerland, a special authorisation is required to conduct a BVLOS operation.38 In 2017, SenseFly became the first operator to be issued an 'anytime' BVLOS authorisation in Switzerland, under strict conditions such as the use of visual observers and a maximum flight height of 500 feet above ground level or 1000 feet over urban areas. The 'anytime' license meant that they could operate anywhere in the country, at any time, without having to set-up a flight operation 'Danger Area' beforehand.39
Significantly, in February 2019, Azure drones received the first authorization from the French regulator to conduct BVLOS operations and fly its drones autonomously. These drones can also fly at night, over private sites, and in urban areas under the supervision of a teleoperator/security officer. Since these drones automatically deploy from a docking station and do not require a remote control system (they can fly on pre-programmed routes), the requirement for remote pilot training may not apply.40
In Belgium, the SAFIR project successfully demonstrated integrated drone traffic management through the operation of multiple drones being flown BVLOS, simultaneously and safely, in even the most challenging environments, over the city and the Port of Antwerp and by simulating use cases such as surveillance flights (container terminal and oil spill inspection) and high voltage line mapping. The SAFIR Consortium includes Unifly, Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia Group, Helicus, the Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes and Tekever. The main focus was the real-time connection and collaboration between multiple systems for Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). The SAFIR project, which is part of the European U-space, demonstrated both the economic viability and the technological feasibility of incorporating drones in a challenging environment. It required the close collaboration of the authorities and multiple UTM service providers to ensure 100% coverage at all times, including BVLOS flights. The goal of the SAFIR project was to ensure the deployment of interoperable, harmonised, and standardised drone services across Europe, and the project saw vast amount of data exchanged. The work performed in SAFIR will form the basis for the further roll-out of drones in industrial settings.41
Finally, in Germany, in June 2020, it was reported that there was a strategic partnership between Droniq and Sky Drone to provide the German drone market with regulated and licensed command and control technology for BVLOS flights of industrial, commercial and government drones. As part of this partnership, Droniq provides real time communication for drones to their customers using the Unifly UTM software, 4G/LTE network of Deutsche Telekom and real time command and control.42
V. UTM AND BVLOS
The previous section mentioned the importance of detect and avoid functions in the context of hardware capabilities on board a drone conducting BVLOS operations. A UTM-based DAA system can also assist in conducting BVLOS operations through the following two methods:
- Real-time tracking of drones using data from the ground control stations or on-board trackers transmitting over LTE. In such cases, the UTM can create situational awareness by collecting location and other planned information about the drones so as to perform tactical de-confliction in close to real time. The UTM can send warning or advisory messages to the pilot, warning them about potential dangers, which can even be beyond the range of an on-board detect and avoid system.43
- Establishing real time two-way communication between supervisors (such as air traffic control) and drone operators in areas with higher air-risk, such as around airports or inside controlled traffic regions, to ensure safe operations for all manned and unmanned aircrafts. Such communication should be in automated and parsable by drones, so as to maximise efficiency, and sufficient broadband should exist to serve emerging communication needs. Control data should be uploaded and telemetry must be transmitted to ground stations, such that supervisors can trace all actions and any changes made by an operator. In addition, drone operators should be able to broadcast information about the commencement and conclusion of the drone operation to the supervisors, without necessarily requiring a response from the supervisor.44 In case two-way communication is not possible through automated means, the supervisor should call or message the drone pilot through a validated phone number.
The regulatory framework for BVLOS drone operations in the US and EU provide valuable lessons on the operational risk assessments, security considerations, and mitigation measures that can be adopted to transition to a drone-friendly regulatory environment. The draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020 released by the DGCA, with its proposal for drone ports and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management is an important step forward from the current DigitalSky Platform and sets the stage for regulation of BVLOS operations. The DGCA can take the following lessons from the steps taken by the US and the EU regulators in how to move ahead with BVLOS operations in a safe, efficient, and acceptable manner.
- Improving DGCA-industry understanding: These are measures that
the DGCA can undertake to better improve its communications with
all the industry stakeholders, so that they have clarity on the
regulatory framework and its application in practice.
- The DGCA, like the FAA, can publish its own set of explanatory documents, power point presentations, and webinars to explain the regulatory framework and the applicability of exemptions under CAR 2.0 and the UAS 2020 (once they are finalised).
- The DGCA can put out documents about the relevant information that needs to be included by drone operators when applying for a license or an exemption under the UAS 2020. This will provide the relevant guidance to the drone operators to facilitate their understanding of the information needed to be provided to improve their chances of registration/approval/exemption.
- Security measures: The DGCA should develop a risk assessment framework as the EASA so that the operational risk assessment and mitigation measures for BVLOS operations can be evaluated and conducted in a structured manner.
- Industry collaboration: Both in the U.S. and the EU, the regulators have teamed up with industry to trial new aviation solutions in a structured manner. The DGCA has already permitted Zomato, Dunzo, and Swiggy to start testing drone deliveries, essentially through a regulatory sandbox. Such a measure should be institutionalised with complete transparency maintained. Industry cooperation with UTM providers is also crucial for safe and secure integration of drones to mitigate air risk and ground risk. A robust and trustworthy UTM system is necessary for awareness to drone operators and is therefore a prerequisite of a safe and sustainable drone industry.
- Transparency measures: The DGCA should proactively publish a list of operators who have successfully applied for registration and exemptions under CAR 2.0 and UAS 2020 (once it is finalised), the number of registrations and exemptions granted, and the reasons for rejecting any registration or exemption. A document similar to a waiver trend analysis, as published by the FAA, would be extremely useful.
- Communication: The DGCA should speak to regulators such as the FAA and EASA from around the world to learn from their learnings regarding BVLOS regulations. In both these jurisdictions, the regulators have approved autonomous BVLOS operations (such as Kansas and France), in some cases even without requiring a Visual Observer, applying their own risk assessment metrics on the parameters of safety, reliability, and quality.
Authored by the Ikigai Law team with inputs from Rakesh Vohra and Luna Vanderispaillie from Unifly.
1. BVLOS operations, simply, are those operations where a pilot cannot see the drone at all times. (See the UK Policy here). BVLOS operation allow drones to cover longer distances, thereby enabling them to collect more data and improve efficiency. This has significance in various industries such as agriculture, logistics, security. BVLOS operations are necessary to be able to unlock the full potential of drones. For more information, see Mahashreveta Choudhary, What is BVLOS and why is it important for the drone industry, June 2019, https://www.geospatialworld.net/blogs/what-is-bvlos-and-why-is-it-important-for-drone-industry/.
3. They can also get permission to fly in controlled airspace, Classes B-E The permission will be through Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) or via DroneZone or a written agreement with FAA. See FAA, Recreational Flyers & Modeler Community-Based Organizations, https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/ for more details.
4. 14 CFR Part 107 (referred herein as "Part 107" Rules). A summary of Part 107 Rules can be found here. See also FAA Register Your Drone, Wttps://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/register_drone/ for registration information. These drones can fly up to 400 feet above ground level, or within 400 feet of a structure and are permitted to fly in the controlled (Classes B, C, D, and E) airspace with ATC permission.
6. Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform act of 2012 and Section 2210 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. See FAA, Commercial Operations: Part 107 UAS Operations Branch, https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/afx/afs/afs800/afs820/part107_oper/
10. EASA, EU-wide rules on drones published, https://www.easa.europa.eu/newsroom-and-events/press-releases/eu-wide-rules-drones-published
11. Article 3-6, Implementing Regulation.
12. CE stands for Conformité Européenne, which is French for "European Conformity", and appears on many products in the European Economic Area. See Royston, Does CE approval apply to drones, Drone Photography Services, 16 April 2019, https://dronephotographyservices.co.uk/does-ce-approval-apply-to-drones/. As stated in Clause 32 of the Delegation Regulation, "The CE marking indicating the conformity of a product is the visible consequence of a whole process of conformity assessment in the broad sense."
13. Article 4, Implementing Regulation. See also Natasha Lomas, Europe publishes common drone rules, giving operators a year to prepare, June 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/11/europe-publishes-common-drone-rules-giving-operators-a-year-to-prepare/.
15. Article 40, Delegated Regulation. See also Lomas, supra note 14.
16. EASA, Drones: regulatory framework background, https://www.easa.europa.eu/domains/civil-drones-rpas/drones-regulatory-framework-background and Drone Rules, EU regulations updates, https://dronerules.eu/sl/professional/eu_regulations_updates.
17. § 107.31. See also FAA News, Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107), https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf
18. There are also specific waivers provided by the FAA to fly a drone at night, fly multiple drones with one remote pilot, fly a drone without having to give right of way to another aircraft, and flying a drone over person/people. See FAA, Part 107 waivers, https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/part_107_waivers/ for greater detail about waivers.
20. FAA Order JO 7200.23A, https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices/index.cfm/go/document.information/documentID/1031453; FAA, Emergency Situations, https://www.faa.gov/uas/advanced_operations/emergency_situations/.
21. FAA, Waiver trend analysis, https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/part_107_waivers/waiver_trend_analysis/.
22. FAA approves another ground breaking BVLOS flight, August 2019, https://www.geospatialworld.net/news/faa-approves-another-groundbreaking-bvlos-flight/; FAA approves another ground breaking BVLOS flight, August 2019, https://www.suasnews.com/2019/08/faa-approves-another-groundbreaking-bvlos-flight/
23. Air carriers are defined under 14 CFR § 1.1 as a person who undertakes directly by lease, or other arrangement, to engage in air transportation. Air carrier certificates are issued to applicants to conduct inter-state, foreign, or overseas transportation.
24. FAA, Package Delivery by Drone (Part 135), https://www.faa.gov/uas/advanced_operations/package_delivery_drone/
25. FAA, 14 CFR Part 135: General Information, https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airline_certification/135_certification/general_info/
26. UPS Flight Forward attains FAA's first full approval for drone airline, UPS Pressroom, October 2019, https://pressroom.ups.com/pressroom/ContentDetailsViewer.page?ConceptType=PressReleases&id=1569933965476-404#:~:text=The%20FAA's%20Part%20135%20Standard,of%20remote%20operators%20in%20command.
28. Andrew Elefant, What can we learn from Amazon and UPS' latest regulatory filings with the FAA?, Kitty Hawk, September 2019, https://kittyhawk.io/blog/what-can-we-learn-from-amazon-and-ups-latest-regulatory-filings-with-the-faa/.
29. How drone delivery is possible for Part 107 pilots, May 2020, https://www.thedroneu.com/blog/how-drone-delivery-is-possible-for-part-107-pilots/.
30. A 'Standard Scenario 2' (recognised under the Implementing Regulation) is a drone operation that only requires an operational declaration to fly - it does not have to follow the normal specific operation risk assessment (SORA) procedure, followed by a request for an operational authorization.
32. Recital 7, Implementing Regulation.
36. For further information on UK's BVLOS regulations, see Civil Aviation Authority, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace - Guidance & Policy, CAP 722, https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP722_Edition7_A3_SEP2019_20190903.pdf.
37. Boeing NeXt joins UK CAA's Innovation Sandbox programme to test BVLOS operations, May 2020, https://www.unmannedairspace.info/latest-news-and-information/boeing-next-joins-uk-caas-innovation-sandbox-programme-to-test-bvlos-operations/
38. Drone Rules, Regulations: Switzerland (CH), https://dronerules.eu/sl/professional/regulations/switzerland
39. SenseFly receives first Swiss approval for anytime BVLOS operations, February 2017, https://www.sensefly.com/2017/02/09/sensefly-receives-first-swiss-approval-anytime-bvlos-operations/
40. Katie Flash, Azure drones receives first authorisation in Europe for BVLOS operations, https://interdrone.com/news/azure-drones-receives-first-authorization-in-europe-for-bvlos-operations/
41. Unifly, SAFIR, October 01, 2018, https://www.unifly.aero/news/safir; Elia, SAFIR: U-space drone demonstrations, https://innovation.eliagroup.eu/projects/safir/; Co-ordination and risk-management is the challenge, not technology" - Erwin Verstraelen, Antwerp Port; Urban Air Mobility News, https://www.urbanairmobilitynews.com/uam-infrastructure/co-ordination-and-risk-management-is-the-challenge-not-technology-erwin-verstraelen-antwerp-port/.
42. Juan Plaza, Droniq and Sky Drone Sign a Key Agreement to Facilitate BVLOS Flights in Germany, June 2020, https://www.commercialuavnews.com/europe/droniq-and-sky-drone-sign-a-key-agreement-to-facilitate-bvlos-flights-in-germany
43. FAA, Version 2.0 of the UTM Concept of Operations, https://www.faa.gov/uas/research_development/traffic_management/media/UTM_ConOps_v2.pdf; ICAO, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Operations: A Common Framework with Core Principles for Global Harmonisation, Edition 2, https://www.icao.int/safety/UA/Documents/UTM-Framework%20Edition%202.pdf.
44. Unifly, UTM: Connecting authorities with drone pilots, https://www.unifly.aero/solutions/unmanned-traffic-management; ANRA Technologies, Smartskies CTR - UTM Platform, https://www.anratechnologies.com/home/smartskies-ctr-utm-platform/, Deloitte, Managing the evolving skies: UTM, the key enabler, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Images/infographics/gx-eri-managing-the-evolving-skies.pdf.
Originally published 25 August, 2020
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