ABC submitted comments April 24 to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proposed rule for the operation and certification of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. ABC offered its input on how the proposal will affect the construction industry’s ability to use drones on project sites. 

As a part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress directed the FAA to finalize a regulatory framework integrating commercial UAS into the national airspace by September 2015. After failing to meet numerous deadlines, the agency issued a notice for proposed rulemaking in February 2015 that is expected to go into effect January 1, 2017.

In its comments, ABC addressed the following provisions included in the proposed rule: 
  • visual line of sight; 
  • the daylight-only operation limitation; 
  • the FAA designation of  a micro UAS (under 4.4 pounds) classification; 
  • small UAS operations over people not directly operating the drone; 
  • process of obtaining an FAA operator certificate; and
  • measures the FAA should consider as UAS technology evolves. 
ABC expressed concern over the FAA’s operational limits restricting the use of the small UAS to the operator or visual observer. While the FAA claims that collision avoidance technology is not sufficiently advanced, ABC believes there is technology that exists today which surpasses the safety benefits provided by any line-of-sight requirement and that first-person view technology, visual and inertial sensing technology, GPS, the use of multiple cameras and other advanced technologies allow operators not only to have better visual awareness of an aircraft’s immediate environment, but also allow safe autonomous operation by the aircraft itself.

ABC also cited the FAA’s restrictions of small UAS operating over personnel that are not directly participating in the operation of small UAS as overly burdensome to the construction industry. ABC proposes lifting this restriction as long as construction workers wear the necessary safety equipment and are notified of UAS operations on the construction site. 

For more information on the details of the proposed regulation, click here.