Exciting Drone Law Changes: Night Flight Privileges Accessible to all 107 Pilots; Flight over People is Coming; the End of Paid Recurrent Tests
In late December, the FAA issued a series of new rules covering Part 107 drone flight. These are exciting advancements for the drone industry and open up some of the limits that have been imposed in the first phase of the Part 107 rules. These rules were published in mid-January, and will become effective on March 16, 2021. Highlights:
Drone Flight Operations At Night. Presently any licensed Remote Pilot In Command (RPIC) is allowed to fly from 30 minutes before local sunrise to 30 minutes after local sunset. To flight at night, pilots have needed to apply for a "night waiver." Under the new night rule, RPICs will be able to operate anytime at night starting March 16 if they:
Drone Flight Over People. Restrictions on flights over people and moving traffic have been a severe limitation to drone use. Under the new rules, the FAA has established 4 categories of drones generally based on weight. Each category will have its own allowances and limitations for flight over people and moving traffic.
The first category, Category 1, is defined as drones that 1) weigh less than .55 pounds at full takeoff weight and 2) contain no exposed rotating parts that would "lacerate human skin." Drones that meet Category 1 specifications will be allowed to fly over people and "transit" over groups of people and moving traffic. These drone will not need a demonstration of compliance to the FAA. These drones will be eligible for these flights by mid-March when the new rules take effect. Presently there are very few drones that meet the both the weight requirement AND the prop shielding required, but legal models will be available soon. The one characteristic they will all share: they will be small!
Categories 2 and 3 are larger drones that are categorized by the kinetic energy they would have from dropping on someone or something. They must also have protection from exposed rotating parts and cannot have any safety defects. They will require both a "means of compliance" and a "declaration of compliance" acceptable to the FAA. It will likely be many months before compliant drone models are available.
The last category of drones, Category 4, defines a new class of drones that will get airworthiness certificates just as manned aircraft do. They will need to be inspected and maintained just as manned aircraft are. These will be new drone designs that will be very similar to manned aircraft - but flown remotely.
Remote Pilot Knowledge Test Changes. Presently, RPICs must take an FAA-designated 40 question "recurrent" exam at an FAA test center (and with the same fee as an initial exam) every 24 months to maintain RPIC flight privileges. Under the new rule:
Inspection, Testing, and Demonstration of Compliance. The FAA has tightened the rules that define how RPICs must work with law enforcement (at any level) and FAA inspections. Highlights:
WE DID IT! THIS APRIL, WE PRESENTED OUR PART 107 TEST PREP COURSE LIVE AND ONLINE! THE GRADS ARE SUCCESSFUL - WE'LL DO IT AGAIN!
KTVQ in Billings, Montana, Joins the Drone Revolution! Buys Mavics and Commissions Aeon Unmanned to Train Staff to Be FAA Licensed Remote Pilots
InterNACHI hosts the Drone License Preparation Course at their "House of Horrors" in Boulder, Colorado
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) has created a "House of Horrors" - an open-framed house loaded with defects for student inspectors to identify and study. Ever since we at Aeon Unmanned gave a presentation to InterNACHI members last June showing them how drones can be used to inspect from above - we've had home inspectors attend every one of our monthly drone license courses. With such strong member interest, InterNACHI invited us to teach the course at their location in early November, and our graduates there all passed the FAA drone exam and can now add drones to their home inspection toolkits.
SOUTH METRO'S 911 DISPATCH TEAMS HAVE COMPLETED DRONE LICENSE TRAINING AND ARE ADDING DRONES TO THEIR INCIDENT DISPATCH VEHICLES
The South Metro Fire Rescue Authority serves over 540,000 Colorado residents. A key part of the South Metro team is the MetCom/911 Dispatch agency. This 24-hour communications center handles dispatch calls for all of South Metro's district plus multiple volunteer fire agencies, for a total coverage of 1778 square miles. To enhance its communications effectiveness, MetCom has created an innovative Incident Dispatch Team. This group of specially trained dispatchers is prepared for rapid deployment to major incidents to manage communications, logistics, and planning for on scene agencies. The Dispatch Team operates a fleet of Incident Dispatch vehicles, which are outfitted with information gathering and communications tools including satellite links, weather stations, and cellular hotspots.
Soon to be added to the vehicles: drones! They’ll be used to contribute to situational awareness at incident sites. And to help train its dispatchers for their new roles as drone pilots, this September MetCom invited Aeon Unmanned to present its Drone License Course at the South Metro headquarters and guide the dispatchers to success on their Part 107 drone license exams.
We're pleased to have contributed to MetCom's adoption of versatile drone technology for their emergency dispatch toolkits!
Photos: Bruce Zale and Scott May of MetCom demonstrate the versatility of their Incident Dispatch vehicles - soon to have drones.
TO EMBRACE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY IN DATA COLLECTION, HUWA ENTERPRISES PROVIDES DRONE LICENSE TRAINING TO 16 TEAM MEMBERS
Heading northeast from Denver on a quiet country road that splits endless green fields, you suddenly realize that one of the gentle hills ahead is in fact topped by a massive collection of buildings and construction equipment. When you turn left at the large "HE" sculpture and head up the driveway, you are confronted by a fierce John Deere tractor with a flaming exhaust mounted at the entrance to Huwa Enterprises. It displays the grit and energy shared by the family of Huwa companies that have evolved from a simple family ranch to provide nearly every conceivable service in land management. This includes land restoration, soil services, landscape mapping and modeling, and civil and pipeline construction. With a commitment to apply state-of-the-art technology to their projects, Huwa Enterprises recently invited Aeon Unmanned to present its Drone License Course to 16 employees. Now, with their new drone licenses, those employees are training with DJI Mavic 2 drones to integrate aerial data collection into all the Huwa companies' operations for customers across the USA.
Up, Up and Away! Aeon Unmanned and Eco Roof and Solar Show Home Inspectors How To Use A Powerful New Tool: Drones!
Drones were a huge topic of interest at the annual International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) convention in Longmont, Colorado, on June 12 and 13. In a tag-team workshop, Greg DePrez of Aeon Unmanned described the key features of drone technology, then Kayleen Kesterson of Eco Roof and Solar, who flies a drone daily to inspect roofs, showed how just one overhead photo of a damaged roof provided enough detail to support a successful replacement claim of $15,000. Later, in an outside demonstration, Kayleen flew a DJI Inspire 2 drone to demonstrate how an inspector can quickly and safely gather data from hard-to-reach vantage points. And wow...since the convention, we've already had a home inspector graduate from our June drone license course with a "pass" on her FAA drone license exam, and we have several more scheduled in future courses. Take our drone license course to legally and safely make drones a tool for your business!
Three's a A Crowd? Try 11 New Remote Pilots at Brinkmann Consructors! Our Latest Client Site Drone License Class
When Brinkmann Constructors, a progressive and innovative general contractor, decided to add drone technology to their workflow, they committed nearly everyone on their team of Denver-based project managers, supervisors and engineers to earning a Remote Pilot Certificate and becoming qualified to fly drones at project sites. At Brinkmann's invitation in early April, Greg DePrez (Senior UAS Instructor, Aeon Unmanned, center in blue shirt) and Micah Lambert (Aeon Unmanned CEO, behind DePrez) brought the AU Academy to Brinkmann's Denver office classroom for two days of FAA drone license lectures. After taking several practice tests and meeting the instructors once more for a final review on test day, all of the license candidates passed the FAA Drone Knowledge exam. Brinkmann's new Remote Pilots will use drones to take photos and videos of site conditions, as well as to document monthly construction progress. We congratulate Brinkmann Constructors, an employee-owned construction industry leader, on making an "all in" commitment to embracing drone technology by creating a large team of legal, safe, and professional employee-pilots.
We've wondered where the drone pilots of the future will come from. Will they continue to be the solo entrepreneurs we've always seen in our monthly Aeon Academy Drone License classes? Or will more of them be employees of companies and agencies that sponsored their training to create an internal drone team?
So we looked at the trends in our own Part 107 license class training. In 2017, the first full year of drone license availability, 66% of our students were private or self-employed individuals. 34% of of our students were sponsored by an employer.
But in 2018, the numbers have swapped. This year, 35% of our students have been private, and 65% have been sponsored by their employers. These have included police departments, national science laboratories, construction companies, gas and oil operators, and even reality TV video crews (you can spot their drone shots on reality TV shows!).
We think the growing percentage of employer-sponsored Drone License students demonstrates that, as companies discover the critical value of drones to key internal processes, more of them will hire or train internal pilots who will handle company drone operations.
And yes - we are happy to help employee-sponsored students get their commercial drone licenses!
We've been teaching the Part 107 Drone License Course since September 2016 (a record?). But 2018 was a big year for our program. At the beginning of the year, we completely revised the course, based on our experience and feedback from our grads. During the year we welcomed dozens of students from all over the US, as well as Kenya and Jamaica. Two thirds of our students were sponsored by their employers, and we had new industries represented, including law enforcement, mining, journalism, and wind turbine inspection.
We constantly made lesson adjustments; for instance, students reported that the number of "airspace" questions on the Part 107 exam were increasing, so we expanded the airspace lectures and practice problems to make sure students were comfortable with this topic. We saw our graduates' FAA exam scores rise, and since June, the average of our graduates' scores has exceeded 87 (and only a 70 is needed to pass!).
Heading into 2019, we think we've got one of the most comprehensive Part 107 professional drone license and flight prep course available. Our full Test Prep and Flight Intro course features two days of classroom instruction and two days of basic flight instruction, supported with homework and test practice right up to the scheduled FAA exam on the final day. That's twice the instruction time of nearly all other lecture plus flight courses.
Our graduates (see their comments!) consistently report that they felt prepared to take the Drone exam and they they are comfortable with the basic elements of safe, legal, and professional drone flight.
Are you a designated future drone pilot for your company or agency (or yourself)? Then pick an upcoming FAA commercial drone license course and join us!
As you make plans to earn your Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, there is key element in your professional portfolio that you need to include. It's a commitment to a UAS-centered Code of Conduct.
When you apply for your pilot certificate, you agree to obey the rules and regulations governing your UAS flight privileges. But you should enhance that commitment by pledging publicly that you are committed to safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft.
To make that commitment, we recommend to our Aeon Academy students that they adopt the UAS Pilots Code. The Code was published this year by the Aviators Code Initiative and the University Aviation Association. It's designed to advance safety, airmanship, and professionalism among UAS pilots and crews.
The key theme of the UAS pilots code is that, as members of the professional aviation community, remote pilots should maintain the same obligations toward safe operations as manned pilots, who have a highly developed set of training and safety programs.
The UAS Pilots Code lists a set of recommended practices to confront real world operations. It's designed to help UAS pilots embrace standard operating procedures and incorporate risk and safety management in all operations. There are seven sections of guidance in the Code:
1. General Responsibilities of UAS Pilots
2. Manned Aircraft and People on the Surface
3. Training and Proficiency
4. Security and Privacy
5. Environmental Issues
6. Use of Technology
7. Advancement of UAS Aviation
As an example, here's an abbreviated version of Section 1, General Responsibilities of UAS Pilots:
UAS pilots should:
a. make safety a top priority,
b. seek excellence in airmanship (knowledge, skill, ability, and attitude that promote safe and efficient operations),
c. adopt sound principles of aeronautical decision-making (ADM) (the process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to the circumstances), and develop and exercise good judgment,
d. use sound principles of risk management,
e. maintain situational awareness (the accurate perception and understanding of your operation and environment), and adhere to prudent operating practices,
f. aspire to professionalism,
g. act with responsibility, integrity, and courtesy, and
h. adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and industry guidance.
In our Academy classes we review the key statements and encourage our students to incorporate the UAS Pilots Code into their operations. And we point out that they should promote their embrace of the Code to demonstrate their commitment to professional and safe UAS operation.
Remote Pilots: are you committed? You can find the full details of the UAS Pilots Code at this link: http://www.secureav.com/UAS-Listings-Page.html