You Better Get Used To Airworthiness Requirements

You Better Get Used to Airworthiness Requirements

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the NTSB made a statement that has confirmed my position that Airworthiness Certification will play a bigger role moving forward in drone operations.

The NTSB said, “The NTSB believes that an updated definition is necessary given the changing UAS industry. Pursuant to section 44807 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Reauthorization Act), the FAA has recently promulgated proposed rulemaking regarding UAS. Section 44807 directed the Department of Transportation to use a risk-based approach to determine if certain UAS may operate safely in the national airspace. A number of drone delivery operations, among other applications, have begun using: (1) FAA Special Airworthiness Certificates—Experimental, or (2) approvals under the exemption processes per section 44807 of the Reauthorization Act that allows the FAA to grant exemptions on an individual basis. As drone delivery and other applications develop, airworthiness certification will become more prevalent for certain unmanned aircraft similar to that of manned aircraft.

Therefore, an unmanned aircraft—of any size or weight—used for certain activities will require airworthiness certification or approvals due to higher risk potential, such as flights over populated areas for deliveries.

Moreover, a substantially-damaged delivery drone may uncover significant safety issues, the investigation of which may enhance aviation safety through the independent and established NTSB process. This proposed definition change will treat a UAS with airworthiness certification or airworthiness approval in the same manner as a manned aircraft with airworthiness certification or airworthiness approval, thereby enabling the NTSB to immediately investigate, influence corrective actions, and propose safety recommendations.”

Growing Up

The industry is growing up, and people who are still resistant to Remote ID or Airworthiness Certification will get left behind as the UAS field matures.

What This Means for You

I still predict that the opportunities for drones without an earned Airworthiness Certification will become more of a liability for pilots and departments and will become grounded.

There will be a shift to drones that have been determined to be safe through official testing. It makes little sense at this time to invest heavily in any drone platform that has not earned an Airworthiness Certification and demonstrated it can fly safely and has aircraft manufacturer support instead of being a tech company product.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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