What is a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)?
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) also
referred to as an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
is a helicopter or aircraft, which can
operate under its own control or under the
control of a remote human pilot.
aircraft (as defined by 14 CFR 1.1) that is
intended to navigate in the air without an
What is a Unmanned
Aircraft System (UAS)
aircraft and its associated elements related
to flight operation which may include
Control Stations, data communications links,
support equipment, payloads, flight
termination systems, and launch/recovery
the difference between an Unmanned Aircraft
System (UAS), a Remotely Operated Aircraft (ROA),
and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)?
ROA and UAV were terms previously used to
identify unmanned aircraft. Currently the
FAA and most of the international community
uses the term “UAS."
- What is a RC Model Aircraft?
A UAS used
by hobbyists and flown within visual
line-of-sight under direct control from the
pilot, which can navigate the airspace, and
which is manufactured or assembled, and
operated for the purposes of sport,
recreation and/or competition.
- Do I
need to get approval from the FAA to fly a
model aircraft for recreational use?
guidance does not address size of the model
aircraft. FAA guidance says that model
aircraft flights should be kept below 400
feet above ground level (AGL), should be
flown a sufficient distance from populated
areas and full scale aircraft, and are not
for business purposes.
their restrictions for model airplanes?
Yes! Although a hobbyist does not need a
license of COA to fly RC model RC airplanes
and helicopters must also obey FAA Rules and
UAS Aiation Rulemaking Committee;
DOT Model Aircraft Operating Standards;
And, Model Aircraft operations that are
conducted in accordance with an FAA accepted
set of standards established and
administered by a community based
association as discussed in Section 2.2,
shall otherwise be exempt from the
requirements of any Special Federal
Airworthiness Regulation (SFAR) that results
from this recommendation as long as they are
- Do I
need to get FAA approval for commercial use
of a UAV?
Current FAA Regulations prohibits the use of
an unmanned aircraft system for commercial
purposes. FAA Rules for opening the
National Air Space (NAS) in 2015 for
- If I
fly a UAS for business purposes, such as new
technology development, am I required to get
approval from the FAA?
Yes. There are presently two methods of
gaining FAA approval for flying UAS: Special
Airworthiness Certificates - Experimental
Category (SAC-EC) for civil aircraft, and
Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA)
for public aircraft.
What’s the difference between public and
aircraft is one that is only for the United
States government or owned and operated by
the government of a state, the District of
Columbia, or a territory or possession of
the U. S. or a political subdivision.
Operators of public aircraft include DOD,
DOJ, DHS, NASA, NOAA, state/local agencies
and qualifying universities. Civil aircraft
means other than a public aircraft.
need a License to Operate to fly a UAV in
the National Airspace (NAS)?
can operate a UAV in National Airspace System
(NAS) you must have a
Certificate of Authorization (COA).
Who can receive a COA to fly a UA in the
Only public agencies operating an unmanned
- How do I
obtain a COA? The UAS COA
process is managed in Washington, DC, FAA
Headquarters in the UAS Group (AJV-13).
Contact AJV-13 for
process includes opening a COA website account, which has an
application that can be populated on-line.
Public aircraft are tied to government
agencies, therefore credentials must be
FAA issued pilot certificates required to
operate civil UAS?It depends on where you
intend to operate, but in all cases you need
to be additionally trained in all specific
details of the UA being operated.
long does the process take?
experience, depending on the complexity,
from 2 months to 1 year. But, 60-90 days is
a “Public Agency?”
Any agency that operates a public aircraft
(14 CFR Part 1.1). If you receive funding
from the federal government at some level,
you are probably a “Public Agency.” A public
agency can never operate under the
guidelines of Advisory Circular 91-57 (Model
Aircraft Operating Standards).
there Grants available for the purchase of a
UAV for government public agencies?
Yes, grants are available for the
purchase of an unmanned aerial aircraft.
FEMA is a great source for
Does Homeland Surveillance & Electronics LLC offers
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- If I
want to operate a civil aircraft, how do I
obtain an experimental airworthiness
The Aircraft Certification Service –
Production and Airworthiness Division
(AIR-200) at FAA headquarters in Washington,
D.C. holds this responsibility and can be
reached by telephone (202) 385-6346
All questions regarding the process and
procedures required to obtain an
experimental certificate will be answered by
- Can I
fly a UAS under a COA or experimental
certificate for commercial purposes?
Currently, there are no means to obtain an
authorization for commercial UAS operations
in the NAS. However, manufacturers may apply
for an experimental certificate for the
purposes of R&D, market survey and crew
long does the process take to obtain an
experience, depending on the system and
operational complexity, the process may take
from 60 to 90 days.
- Is a
FAA issued pilot certificate required to
operate civil UAS?
the aircraft is issued an airworthiness
certificate a pilot certificate is required.
the FAA considering a special type of
airspace for UAS?
Currently there are no actions being taken
to establish a "special UAS airspace". This
"special UAS airspace" would be counter to
the idea of integrating unmanned aircraft
into the NAS because it would be
segregating, not integrating.
about commercial operations? What are the
obstacles to standards, certification, and
operations conducted in civil airspace must
meet minimum levels of safety. Public UA
operators have the ability to self-certify
their equipment and personnel, but civil
operators are certified by the FAA. We
believe civil operators will benefit from
the collaboration between the FAA and the
public operators. Presently, the FAA is
drafting a rule to address small UAS.
do you think the FAA will have to do to
address the UAS industry changes and growth?
industry has grown largely as a result of
supporting the defense organizations and
this is reflected in the type of systems
that have been developed. However,
operations in civil airspace have different
priorities. Civil performance standards are
often more stringent, especially in the
areas of reliability. Public expectation for
a safe aviation environment drives our very
civilian company operate an UAS as part of a
Currently, civilian companies may not
operate a UAS as part of a business without
obtaining a Special Airworthiness
Certificate - Experimental Category
(SAC-EC). However, this SAC-EC is very
limited in scope of operational use. Contact
FAA for details or see FAA Order 8130.34.
What does Auto Flight
Pilot-in-Command (PIC) is able to maintain
stable flight without constant direct
intervention. To at least some degree,
control surface movements result from
sensors and software automation on-board the
What is Collision Avoidance?
a last resort maneuver of an aircraft to
avoid an imminent collision. Without the
maneuver a collision might occur.
What is Conflict
which seeks to ensure that aircraft remain
safely separated and well clear of each
other as to not present a collision hazard.
What is a Control Station?
not on the aircraft, used to maintain
control, communicate, guide, or otherwise
operate an unmanned aircraft.
What are Data
between the unmanned aircraft and the
Control Station which includes the command,
status, communications, and payload links.
- What is Launch/Recovery
Equipment, not on-board the aircraft, used
to launch and recover an unmanned aircraft
which could also include unique navigation
and differential positioning equipment used
for autonomous landing.
The airspace within 30 nautical miles (NM)
of an airport listed in Appendix D, Section 1 of 14 Code of Federal
Regulations (CFR) Part 91 (generally primary airports within Class B
airspace areas), from the surface upward to 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL).
Unless otherwise authorized by Air Traffic Control (ATC), aircraft operating
within this airspace must be equipped with automatic pressure altitude
reporting equipment having Mode C capability. However, an aircraft that was
not originally certificated with an engine-driven electrical system or which
has not subsequently been certified with a system installed may conduct
operations within a Mode C veil provided the aircraft remains outside Class
A, B, or C airspace; and below the altitude of the ceiling of a Class B or
Class C airspace area designated for an airport or 10,000 feet MSL,
whichever is lower. [Directly quoted from the Federal Aviation
Administration.s (FAA.s) Aeronautical Information Manual: Official Guide to
Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures, February 14, 2008].
- What is Pilot-in-Command?
Same as 14 CFR 1.1
- What is Manual Flight Control?
PIC is able to directly control the
aircraft such that control inputs made at the Control Station are translated
directly into corresponding control surface positions. Augmentations which
help maintain flight stability are permitted.
- What is a UAS Flight Crewmember?
A pilot, visual observer, payload operator
or other person assigned duties for a UAS for the purpose of flight.
- What is a UAS Pilot?
A person exercising control over an
unmanned aircraft during flight.
- What is Visual Line-of-Sight?
Unaided (corrective lenses and/or
sunglasses exempted) visual contact with aircraft sufficient to be able to
maintain operational control of the aircraft, know its location, and be able
to scan the airspace in which it is operating to decisively see and avoid
other air traffic or objects.
- What is a Visual Observer?
A UAS flight crew member who assists the
UAS PIC in the duties associated with collision avoidance. This includes,
but is not limited to, avoidance of other traffic, airborne objects, clouds,
obstructions, and terrain.