When do you need a Part 107 waiver? What are your chances of acquiring a Part 107 waiver? Does FAA need to come up with a more systemic approach for granting waivers? We present data from authentic sources to back our findings. Read on to find out more.
So, recently I attended the FAA's UAV Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. The purpose of the conference is to enlighten the crowd with the FAA's regulatory plans for drones in the upcoming future. Many drone pilots are excited that the FAA is open and willing to listen. Is this excitement justified? Well, the data tends to show something different.
You need a waiver if you wish to fly at night. Likewise, if you wish to fly over people or fly from a moving vehicle, you will also need a waiver. There is no arguing the fact that Part 107 allows for significant drone operations. But, sadly Part 107 falls short of letting the drone industry truly take flight.
The lack of BVLOS operations in the drone world further substantiates this argument. BVLOS operations state that a drone can be flown beyond visual line of sight. That may seem worrisome to most, but believe it or not, the definition of line of sight is rather vague. A pilot must be able to see the drone without aid from ancillary equipment such as glasses or binoculars.
Yes, it can. But only if the FAA would come up with a system to allow BVLOS operations. Let's say the FAA would allow drone pilots to fly within 3 miles of their current position if certain safety protocols were met. Well so far, the chances of that happening are less than 1%. The data actually shows your chances of this happening are around 1%.
Why is this so important? Well, there are plenty of federal contracts and private businesses that wish to take advantage of drone operations. But if the operation must stay within 2250 feet of the operator... it makes business impossible.
Here is the example: If Drone U wanted to map the shoreline of South Carolina, we would have to pack up and move our operations every 2250 feet. This would make our operation extremely time-consuming as we would have to move our base station every quarter hour. Operational inefficiencies would result in loss of value of drone operations as a whole.
Let us consider one more instance. Let's say we wanted to fly Lidar and map the beach line, I would have to move about every 12 minutes. This would make the operation burdensome and almost impossible to compete with a helicopter. It is currently possible for Lidar to fly up to an hour at a time, which could cover a few miles, and up to ten depending on weather conditions. If the FAA were to permit BVLOS operations, the drone guys could offer a cost-effective solution in comparison to a helicopter. Helicopters provide less accurate data without ground control points to reference GPS accuracy. So truly the best data comes from UAV's at this point... and yet we cannot legally fly these missions or have drone delivery.
Additionally, unless BVLOS waivers are systematized, operations like Amazon's Drone delivery or UPS drone delivery cannot happen.
Flying BVLOS would allow smaller operations and larger operations to acquire operations and open up the world to autonomous applications. These applications could serve thousands of businesses across the globe.
Construction companies, engineering firms, surveyors, distributors, service businesses and so many more would truly be able to offer more cost-effective solutions to everyday business problems.
So, from BVLOS operations to nighttime operations and flight over people, what are you actual chances of acquiring a Part 107 waiver? A measly 4%. Thanks to the help of Mark Williams, we took the data from the FAA symposium and put all the data into one easy to read image.
We will be testing new systems to acquire BVLOS waivers in the hope we can help the FAA figure out a system for granting these waivers.