California-based drone manufacturer 3DR, the US’ largest drone manufacturer, has made a public statement in support of Part 107 – but asks that the FAA move quickly to consider a micro drone category.
3DR contributed with other industry leaders on the FAA’s Advisory Review Committee (ARC). The ARC was instrumental in helping to get the Small UAS Rule published, and in forming commercial regulations that did not require that drone operators carry a pilot’s license.
While the 3DR statement supports the regulations – and has produced materials and study guides to help commercial drone operators to obtain their Certificate (see below) – the company says that rule should be expanded to include fewer restrictions for a broad category of micro drones.
“The Part 107 Rule is a major advancement in the liberalization of the skies for small, autonomous vehicles and it sets an excellent foundation for future regulations as well,” says the statement. “…With time, the empirical data collected will provide an opportunity to lower the regulatory barriers even further for the smallest class of drones, the micro category, which are inherently safer.”
“This “micro category” could someday allow a “sandbox” approach like what the FCC used to open the airwaves for Wifi and other open-spectrum wireless technology,” says 3DR CEO Chris Anderson. “That created a huge industry and changed the world — a precedent that bodes well for the future of commercial drones, too. Just as Wifi accelerated productivity inside the office, so too will commercial drones dramatically improve the productivity and safety of construction sites, mining and surveying.”
The idea of a micro drone category is not a new one; the drone industry has advocated for regulations to include a broad based, low risk category of drones for several years. In both the House and Senate, a micro drone proposal was added in to draft versions of the FAA Reauthorization Bill. Last year, the FAA formed a committee to explore the concept but concluded that they would not support size-based regulations. But 3DR says that the time is now, as the commercial drone industry gears up for huge growth due to the release of Part 107:
“Leaders from innovative companies who have looked at drone usage in the past, but found the Sec 333 process too cumbersome, are recognizing that now is time to invest, and the FAA is anticipating dramatic investment,” says 3DR. “To give a sense of the scale, the FAA was able to offer a little over 5,000 exemptions to fly drones commercial with Sec 333. They now estimate that over 600K drones will be sold in 2016 because of the introduction of Part 107.”
In the meantime, 3DR is encouraging all commercial drone operators to take the exam and receive their Certificate; and they’ve provided some free resources to help as many operators as possible to pass the Part 107 test.
3DR’s free Part 107 Resources:
FAA Drone Rules: Your all-in-one guide featuring all the test resources needed for taking the exam
Practice Exam: An interactive practice exam featuring questions from the FAA practice test and more
Where to Take the Exam: A map to help you find locations where you can take the test
Expert Study Guide: A study guide compiled by a former commercial pilot with 10 years of experience teaching preparation courses for FAA exams