To begin my discussion, there are three different classes of drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, defined by the Federal Aviation Association.
- Public Operations (Governmental)
- Civil Operations (Non-Governmental)
- Model Aircraft (Hobby or Recreational)
You may wonder, what are the differences?
These UASs are determined on a flight-by-flight basis under considerations such as aircraft ownership, the operator, the purpose of the flight, and the persons on board the aircraft. The FAA must also issue a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that permits public agencies/organizations to operate a particular aircraft, for a particular purpose, in a particular area. Recently news was released that allows companies to operate multiple types of UASs. A “declaration letter” must also be approved by the FAA, which recognizes your business as a political subdivision of the government.
Non-governmental aircrafts are operations that do not meet the statutory criteria of public aircraft operations. Presently, two methods are used to gain authorization. First of all, you must follow Section 333. Secondly, a Special Airworthiness Certificate (SAC) must be completed. Applicants must be able to describe how their system is designed, constructed, and manufactured, including engineering processes, software development and control, configuration management, and quality assurance procedures used, along with how and where they intend to fly.
Model Aircrafts, must follow safety guidelines:
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
- Don’t fly near people or stadiums
- Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs.
- Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
Ranking Countries by Government Accommodation
The USA ranks 5th place behind France & UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. The FAA is about 6 months into an exemption program that grants company-by-company exemptions (permits) for specific UAS applications. Some conditions and restrictions to operators are pilot certification (in real aircraft), 500 ft. separation from persons and structures, and prohibition against night operations. The FAA regulators have granted approx. 400 exemptions to companies with 1,200 more still pending. They are speeding up the process because Congress has set a deadline for drone regulation in September 2015.
The FAA and Congress stress safety as a key element in drone regulation. It is necessary to prevent drones from colliding with other aircrafts or with people on the ground. It is also important to ensure defensive measures for manned aircrafts to detect and avoid drones in emergency situations.
Exemptions Grants by Use
- Aerial photography, videography, filmmaking
- Industrial/utility applications and inspections
- Search and rescue missions
Drones are driving a new wave of big data collection & analysis. The USA was previously held back by regulations, but now over 400 American companies are approved to commercially operate drones.
First Four Companies allowed to Operate Commercially in USA
Trimble Navigation Limited
- MODEL: UX5
- Weight: 5.5 lbs.
- Use: Aerial surveys by taking digital photographs
- MODEL: Aeryon SkyRanger
- Use: Inspect flare stacks for Shell Oil in Gulf of Mexico
- MODEL: Skycatch
- Use: Multi-rotor to survey construction sites
- Weight: 15 lbs. 5 ft. long & 9 ft. wingspan
- Use: Map rural Ohio and Ship Island, Miss.
Consumer drone shipments are rising rapidly with 4.3 million units in 2015 and revenue at reaching $1.7 billion. The global consumer drone breakdown is as follows: USA 35%, Europe 30%, Rest of world 20%, China 15%.
Recent Drone News
March 19th Amazon gets experimental Airworthiness Certificate for R&D and crew training
May 13th FAA declares “No Drone Zone” for D.C. area
Amazon’s Drone, known as PrimeAir, will carry packages under 5 lbs. and complete deliveries within only 30 minutes! There are other companies worth investing in that strictly focus on drones.
Public Drone Companies Worth Your Investment
IXYS Corp. is a company that supplies power controllers and other power chipsets that every robot, drone, and wearable sold will need
Ambarella makes chipsets and software that record, transmit, and upload HD video
InvenSense makes and sells micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) gyroscopes for motion tracking devices for all kinds of applications including smartphones, tablets and drones.