Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a new rule for performance-based standards and means-of-compliance for operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones’) over people who are not directly participating in the drone operation. This is contrary to the Small UAS Rule (or Part 107 as it is commonly called), which explicitly prohibits drone flights over people without a proper Part 107 waiver. The FAA sent the proposed rule to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA reviews draft regulations before they are implemented and reviews and evaluates the rule through a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits of a rule would justify the costs.
This proposed rule would allow companies to take advantage of the safety and efficiency of drones for disaster response, newsgathering, filmmaking, real estate, inspections, and many more applications.
This development means that a proposed rule for drone flights over people is coming soon. It also means that the White House is open to meeting with interested stakeholders during this time. UAS manufacturers and operators may request a meeting with OIRA to discuss the proposed rule, what it should contain, and how the rule will impact them. We will watch for a new rule (and public comments on the rule) in the new year.