FAA moving forward to enable safe integration of drones

The airworthiness criteria provide a level of safety equivalent to that provided by current airworthiness standards governing other categories of aircraft, and establish a defined path to type certification for specific drones.

FAA moving forward to enable safe integration of drones
FAA moving forward to enable safe integration of drones

FAA moving forward to enable safe integration of drones

The FAA has published the airworthiness criteria for the proposed certification of 10 different Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones as special class aircraft. This is an important step towards allowing more complex drone operations under the small unmanned aircraft rule (Part 107), including package delivery.

“The development of airworthy, durable, and reliable unmanned aircraft is a crucial step forward for this innovative sector,” said Dr. Michael C. Romanowski, director of Aircraft Certification Service Policy and Innovation. “Type certification will help increase both public and regulatory confidence in drone technology as operations become more advanced.”

The airworthiness criteria provide a level of safety equivalent to that provided by current airworthiness standards governing other categories of aircraft, and establish a defined path to type certification for specific drones. Each applicant must follow FAA’s requirements and safety objectives.

Airworthiness criteria notices are published in the Federal Register for the following applicants:

  • 3D Robotics
  • Airobotics
  • Amazon
  • Flirtey
  • Flytrex
  • Matternet
  • Percepto
  • Telegrid
  • Wingcopter
  • Zipline

The applicants’ drones range from five to 89 pounds, and include various types of vehicle designs, including both fixed wing and rotorcraft, and are all electric-powered. Each notice outlines the applicant’s proposed UAS for certification and the airworthiness criteria proposed by the FAA.

This is simply a step in the certification process, and does not imply that these applicants have earned type certificates. The final determination of whether a specific drone meets FAA safety requirements will take place after the applicant demonstrates that they have complied with all of these requirements.

The public has 30 days to comment on each applicant’s airworthiness criteria, and deadlines are specified in each individual notice. The FAA will then evaluate the comments as it establishes criteria for type certifying each UAS, and will publish the final airworthiness criteria after the comment period closes.