Unmanned Aerial Systems ("UAS") colloquially referred to as “drones” continue to be a hot topic in commercial aviation. This year the NTSB upheld the FAA’s right to regulate UAS for commercial purposes as aircraft in the National Airspace System. Today, the industry learned that the FAA issued waivers of operation of UAS for commercial purposes to seven new companies. That brings the total to 11 companies properly authorized to conduct commercial UAS operations.
There are currently 167 applications pending with the FAA to obtain waivers for authorized use of UAS in a multitude of different industries. The initial approvals were all granted to companies involved in movie production. The latest round of approvals were granted to commercial operations ranging from aerial surveying, to construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections.
Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx outlined policy going forward on this quickly developing segment of aviation as follows: “Unmanned aircraft offer a tremendous opportunity to spur innovation and economic activity by enabling many businesses to develop better products and services for their customers and the American public. We [the FAA] want to foster commercial uses of this exciting technology while taking a responsible approach to the safety of America’s airspace."
As different businesses embrace the technology, it is clear that companies who intend to remain competitive are acting now to obtain FAA approval in order to utilize UAS to make their operations more efficient and poised for growth. If you are interested in submitting an application to the FAA for commercial UAS approval, then contact Aviation Attorney Ronnie Gipson at 415.692.6523 or by email at Gipson@higagipson.com.