UAS Federal Policy Background

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Unmanned Aircraft (UA) remain a persistent emerging safety threat to low-level aviators of all stripes, and especially ag aviators. While NAAA is not “anti-UAV”, the Association does believe the FAA needs to take a measured, incremental approach to safely integrate UAVs into the NAS. This means that the Agency needs to fully assess the risk of UAVs to manned aircraft as they incrementally open the airspace.

NAAA is aware of the important functions which can be accomplished by UAS, including those to agriculture.  This potential is also clearly noticed by Air Tractor.  The ag aircraft manufacturer purchased the UAV manufacturer Hangar 78 UAV to make a splash into the aerial crop-sensing/aerial imaging business by UAV.  But protecting the safety of current and future users of the NAS is mandatory and top of mind for the agricultural aviation industry. Safely incorporating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace is undoubtedly of the utmost importance for manned aerial applicators since manned ag aviators will be working at similar altitudes as UAVs used for crop-sensing, aerial imaging and other purposes.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the FAA to provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable. In September 2015 the FAA reissued its model aircraft advisory circular (AC 91-57A). The revised circular, last updated in 1981, takes into account the 2012 FAA Reauthorization statute and emphasizes that model aircraft need to operate below 400 feet and remain five miles from airports, among other geographic restrictions, and give way to manned aircraft, among other provisions.

The 2018 FAA Reauthorization gave permission to the FAA to make vital safety requirements on drone hobbyists, such as tracking and ID requirements.

This document is intended for NAAA members’ review only. It is not intended for publication. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this document that they first seek the permission of the Association.