The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) released its “ARC Recommendations Final Report” this month after meeting in March to discuss recommendations for a performance-based standard to “allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure.” ARC considered the risks to the safety of people and property on the ground and in the air, risks associated with aircraft integrity, and risks associated with crew capability.

ARC’s final recommendations consist of a four category system:

  • Category 1: Must weigh 250 grams or less; the level of risk of injury posed by this category is so low that no performance standards and no operational restrictions besides the FAA’s Part 107 Rule should apply.
  • Category 2: Must cause less than a 1% chance of injury, must maintain minimum set-off distance of 20 feet above people’s heads or 10 feet away laterally, and may not operate so close to people to create an undue hazard.
  • Category 3: Must cause less than a 30% chance of injury, may operate over people if:
    • The operation is conducted over a close or restricted access work site with permission of the site owner or operator or
    • Overflight of people if they are transient or incidental to the operation of the drone.
  • Category 4: Must cause less than a 30% chance of injury, the operation is conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus.

The standards that apply to Category 2 also apply to Category 3 and Category 4. The ARC report can be accessed in full here.  For Category 2, 3 and 4, there are additional, specific, performance standards and manufacturer certifications.

The report also recommends that the FAA change airman certification requirements to allow for online testing to satisfy knowledge requirements, and to work to eliminate in-person visits and background checks. The FAA will review these recommendations and offer a period for public comment.