The FAA’s BVLOS ARC committee is recommending a new Certification for Part 107 pilots to empower advanced operations
BVLOS ARC Recommends new Part 107 Certificates, insurance, and performance based risk standards to rapidly expand the drone industry as we know it. The recommendations from the FAA’s ARC has finally arrived, which requires Part 107 pilots to acquire an advanced certification for BVLOS operations. The ARC recommendations would expand Part 107 certificates and allow for advanced operations at scale. These recommendations include many new amendments which would empower Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight operations. BVLOS operations would allow for complex operations like drone delivery, large scale inspections and large drone infrastructure. Now Part 107 certification would have multiple levels, mirroring the general aviation system of certificates from the FAA.
The drone industry has been waiting for these recommendations as the FAA doesn’t have an established system to allow for BVLOS operations. Drone companies can currently acquire BVLOS waivers, but applications vary widely without a clear system. While the FAA has approved some waivers for BVLOS operations, they often require a CFI to be flying. A CFI or commercial flight instructor certification only exists for manned pilots or general aviation.
There are multiple take aways from this long report, released just this week. Even including provisions for online certificate training. As always the recommendations from the ARC include a “Risk Based Performance standards,” to empower regulatory scalability. Often times regulations are slow to catch up with existing technology. Due to the fact that technology advances at light speed, the FAA needs a system that allows for advancements in technology as a whole. With risk based performance standards, the FAA would have pre-established systems that would outline standards to be met. The recommendations would leave room for interpretation in how to achieve certain standards. Leaving the window of innovation open to pilots.
Frankly there are so many new recommendations from this ARC, it will be truly fascinating to see what the FAA implements. The committee is recommending further delineation of operations across regulations. This would allow for pilots to specialize in particular drone operations and missions. The ARC is calling for simplification of the rules to allow for advanced operations, but autonomous systems to empower pilots to offer those services at scale. Meaning there would be systems implemented online to allow for pilots to easily acquire new certifications
As we have predicted on the podcast for years, it looks like the FAA is about to expand part 107 operations. In order to do so, they’re calling for a creation of a new level of Part 107 certification. Pilots looking to fly BVLOS operations would attend an online training, then take an online exam to earn a new certificate. This certificate would be an advanced form of Part 107 operations. With this new certificate, the need to have a CFI for BVLOS operations would disappear. Which is good news, because it is not economically viable to obtain a manned certificate, let alone a CFI cert.
Pilots hoping to see a practical examination might be disappointed. The FAA plans to offer the BVLOS examination online without a practical flight test.
Another milestone from these ARC recommendations is to allow for automated avoidance systems. Allowing pilots and teams to utilize obstacle avoidance as an approved safety measure for BVLOS operations. The committee recommendations also call for low altitude operations to autonomously yield to ADS-B equipped manned aircraft. The ARC calls for the FAA to allow for automated “see and avoid,” functionality to assist pilots. It would be interesting to see how automated see and avoid procedures would affect existing Part 107 operations.
The committee specifically states:
“The ARC recommends adding the word ‘detect’ in lieu of the word ‘see’. This change allows the use of
other sensing methods beyond human visual capabilities, and creates more options for industry. This is
also consistent with a recommendation from the 2013 UAS ARC that a new subsection (1) be added to
91.113(b) clarifying that, for UA, the use of the word ‘detect’ should apply. 25”
The ARC even calls for recommending having BVLOS operational aircraft have highly contrasting colors. This would improve the automated detection system to see other UA and general aviation based aircraft. BVLOS operations may even require a permanent strobe on the aircraft.
“The ARC is recommending conspicuity requirements for UAS to mitigate visibility risks. The requirements could include strobe or other lighting features, or a paint scheme that increases visibility. The FAA should consider establishing a Means of Compliance through a standards development organization (SDO) for conspicuity requirements”
As many drone pilots know, under current FAA part 107 regulations, insurance is not required. Any experienced business owner would still understand the necessity to have insurance for aircraft. As drone operations to come with inherent liability. As we have said previously on the Ask Drone U podcast, who really runs the drone industry? Insurance Companies.
The ARC committee makes a very interesting recommendation for insurance. The ARC calls for the FAA and the states to require UAS insurance for BVLOS operations, stating they are higher risk operations. The interesting aspect is the ARC calling for states to require insurance. Considering the FAA has the sole economic authority over the airspace, we wonder why the ARC would call for states to implement the requirement.
The insurance recommendations are considerate of existing drone pilots. AS the ARC committee realizes that bunching Part 107 pilots with 107 BVLOS pilots may raise the risk pool. Raising the risk pool could impact all drone operators if insurance rates rise across the board. To spearhead this issue, the ARC recommends that BVLOS insured operators be separated from the aggregate risk pool. Instead separating BVLOS operators into their own risk pool. This would avert a rise in insurance costs across the board. While the BVLOS ARC Recommends new Part 107 Certificates, now they recommend new levels of insurance as well.
The ARC committee mentions noise provisions throughout the entire document. The ARC does make the argument that drones replace noisier alternatives such as combustion engines. The ARC also recommends that aircraft should have a certification for noise. This essentially means that BVLOS aircraft would have noise thresholds. The ARC calls for a simple process to certify these aircraft. As the existing certification for aircraft noise is costly and un-scalable.
“While the scaling method proposed in the recent NPRM results in a reasonable threshold for most environments, the working group believes the noise energy level requirements/thresholds should consider both the ambient noise in the operating environment and the noise exposure to humans. For example, for operations over an industrial facility or a sparsely populated area, there are few unprotected non-participants who will be exposed to the sound produced by the UA. Here, a higher threshold is acceptable. There was strong agreement within the group that testing methodology for noise certification should be appropriate for UA, especially for smaller UA. There is little value in using the existing methodologies applicable to traditional aircraft as these require specialized testing equipment and compliance through an expansive test matrix with test conditions that are not applicable to all UA.”
As we have seen with BLVOS certificates, the ARC is recommending yet another level of Part 107 certification. Part 107 seems to have rapidly expanded in a short amount of time. This advanced certificate would give pilots the ability to fly spraying or agricultural applications. Instead of again having a CFI to apply for a part 137 certificate, this would allow drone pilots to fly spraying applications without heavy regulatory restrictions. Many pilots have argued the financial impact of part 137 is simply not feasible. BVLOS ARC Recommends new Part 107 Certificates for agricultural operations as well.
The ARC recommends having two defined levels of agricultural operations. One simplistic level would be for lighter drones that do not need to fly BVLOS. The second level of certification would allow for heavier drones, flying BVLOS operations. The ARC even states it might be advisable to raise the GTOW (ground take off weight) up to 200lbs.
Unlike the new BVLOS certificate, the ARC is calling for a practical examination of operators for heavy agricultural operations. The ARC specifically recommends that practical examination should be conducted on the aircraft intended for operations. The practical exam would have pilots fly the aircraft at maximum payload and demonstrate flying maneuvers. Albeit which flying maneuvers?
To provide the maximum accommodation for diverse types and scales of operation, the ARC’s proposed rule text delineates between small UAS visual line-of-sight operations and operations conducted with larger aircraft or beyond visual line-of-sight. The ARC supports and has included in the draft rule text the existing key components of Part 137, including:
• Certificate application, issuance and revocation;
• An additional written knowledge test that covers the unique aspects of agricultural remote aircraft operations such as site surveys, aircraft performance capabilities, chemical handling and dispensing, and the effects of economic poisons and agricultural chemicals;
• A practical examination that includes applicable aerial maneuvers at the aircraft’s maximum takeoff/load weight;
• General operating rules and aircraft and dispensing requirements;
• Operations near airports and over congested areas; and • Record keeping.
It is important to remember, these recommendations are not laws and are not regulations. The ARC committee makes recommendations to the FAA. The FAA has the sole discretion to accept what they want, and remove what they do not want.
These new recommendations, if accepted would rapidly expand potential drone operations. Drone operations would essentially be allowed to scale at a much faster rate and open the skies to advanced operations like drone delivery, medical delivery, agricultural spraying and nuanced applications like cleaning drones.
In reality, it will be interesting to see what recommendations are implemented by the FAA. In addition, how will Remote ID fit into these regulations. How could the regulations change if Remote ID is negated by the Federal Lawsuit?
Be sure and check out our page with guides, posts and other helpful information.Learn More
Download this 27 point checklist to avoid catastrofic failures, and drone crashes that cost your time and money