The exponential and undeniable growth in the popularity of unmanned aircraft system’s is the result of their numerous merits. Unmanned aircraft systems are used for purposes such as firefighting, search and rescue, disaster relief, border patrol, weather monitoring, hurricane tracking and crime scene documentation. They are also well suited for high risk operation such as inspecting high-tension wire electrical towers and crop dusting.
In order to ensure that all unmanned aircraft systems are used properly and safely, the FAA has set some rules and regulations to be followed by all unmanned aircraft systems owners and operators.
The FAA defines an unmanned aircraft system as “The Unmanned aircraft is the flying portion of the system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links and any additional equipment that is necessary for the unmanned aircraft to operate safely.” Everyone who owns and operates a UAS must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the authorities to ensure the development of the unmanned aircraft technology.
Regulations for recreational use of airspace by model aircraft is covered by FAA Advisory Circular 91-57. Take a look at our FAA Rules & Regulations page to see these regulations.
Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) are available to public entities that want to fly a UAS in civil airspace. Common uses today include law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, military training, and other government operational missions.
A COA allows an operator to use a defined block of airspace and includes special provisions unique to the proposed operation. For instance, a COA may require flying only under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and/or only during daylight hours. COAs usually are issued for a specific period—up to two years in many cases.
Most COAs require coordination with an appropriate air traffic control facility and may require a transponder on the UAS to operate in certain types of airspace.
More information on FAA rules and regulations can be obtained from the Official FAA Site.