All Industry 13/04/2016

FAA changes boost efficiency, reduce admin for US commercial drone operators

The US airspace regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has doubled the “blanket” altitude authorisation for Section 333 exemption holders and opened its online registration platform to commercial drone operators.

The FAA has raised the “blanket” altitude of the blanket Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that it previously granted to commercial and government drone users with a Section 333 exemption. These operators are now able to fly their unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) nationwide at heights of up to 400 feet (122 m) above the ground, twice the previous ceiling of 200 feet (61 m). This applies anywhere in the country except for in restricted airspace and other select areas such as major cities.

“This doubling of the COA’s blanket altitude is great news for commercial drone users such as senseFly users,” said Baptiste Tripard, the Managing Director of senseFly Inc. “By flying at twice the height, professionals such as surveyors, farmers and engineers can achieve much greater efficiency—reducing flight times and data volume, while increasing aircraft coverage and the speed of data processing. It’s all around a huge improvement for drone operations.”

The FAA has also streamlined its commercial drone registration process, allowing operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, to register their airframes online for the first time

“This new process, which is based on the same model as the registration of consumer UAS, further reduces hassle, making the final step in getting airborne both easier and quicker,” Tripard added. 

Read the FAA’s “blanket” expansion press release.

Explore the FAA’s UAS registration page.