The Federal Aviation Administration has made it simpler for the six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites to conduct research by giving them “blanket” authorizations to fly public aircraft operations throughout the National Airspace System at or below 200 feet.
The FAA expects this improved access for the test sites will provide more opportunities for research that may help the agency integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace more quickly and easily.
The new Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) allow small UAS (under 55 lbs.) operated by the test sites to fly up to 200 feet above ground level anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and areas close to airports and heliports. Operators must fly during daytime Visual Flight Rules conditions and within visual line of sight of the pilot. The new authorizations also let the test sites fly various types of UAS under a single COA, making it easier for them to conduct research missions. Previously, the FAA required authorization for each type of UAS the operators wanted to fly.