FAA Issues Package Drone Certification Notice (Corrected)


The FAA is proposing to issue type certificates for individual unmanned aircraft designs heavier than 55 pounds that will be used for package delivery. In a Federal Register Notice published last week, the agency says it wants to certify drones under the “special class” category that addresses aircraft “for which certification standards do not exist due to their unique, novel, or unusual design features.” Drones would be subject to the same rigorous testing and standards of manned aircraft and a future NPRM is designed for package-carrying drones. Standards for aircraft carrying people would follow.

The agency is looking for public comment to help it figure out the new set of standards and warns that it’s the beginning of what will certainly be a long and complex process toward integration of drones. Comments are being accepted until March 4 and it’s urging commenters to be specific. “The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the policy, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data,” the NPRM reads.

Correction: Previously, we reported the agency had issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In fact, it had issued a Federal Register Notice. We apologize for the error.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Why do we need a “new” set of standards? Anything that big and heavy already needs to fit in the existing airspace system. They are not unique, novel, or unusual designs; they are VTOL rotary wing aircraft and there are rules for VTOL operating in the air and near populated areas.

  2. The biggest hurdle is this: Why pass any law that cannot be enforced or understood by a truck driver? It will never be profitable when the truck will have carry a huge load of batteries to get through the day. Has anyone considered the insurance cost for liability?

  3. “It’s the beginning of … a long and complex process toward the integration of drones.” In other words, when the FAA is through, the average package carrying drone will cost over $200,000.