Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Hi there,


Since you stumbled upon my webpages, I assume you are a UAS enthusiast!


It doesn't matter whether you are a commercial UAS operator, a recreational UAS user, a public entity operator like law enforcement or fire or search and rescue person, or simply an educational user wondering if this is the career path for you, I hope that these pages bring you some guidance!


I have a slew of information, starting with 9 pages of ground school in preparation for the Part 107 remote pilot written test or Part 61 add-on. There are pages devoted to each specific user, pages devoted to job hunting, counter-UAS technology, US state and local UAS laws, as well as international UAS laws.


I hope you find what you are looking for on this site. And if not, please reach out to me. I always appreciate your feedback and I am constantly updating the pages!





The history of the drone in 9 minutes


In case you are interested in the early history of UAS and the AMA, below are three books available for download 

A brief history of early UA.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [3.7 MB]
UAS - A Historical Perspective.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.4 MB]
History of AMA.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [267.9 KB]

20 of the world's leading research universities and a hundred leading industry, government partners comprise the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE which possesses the expertise, infrastructure and outstanding track record of success that the FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems demands.

Adobe Acrobat document [1.4 MB]
Adobe Acrobat document [1.4 MB]


International Drone Day - a day to show all that unmanned systems are good


March 2015 - AOPA Article on Drones: Droning on 


Nov 27, 2015 - FAA released their safety guide in time for Black Friday shopping -  

Fly safe with your drone


Adobe Acrobat document [1.1 MB]



Unmanned Aircraft (UA): A device used or intended to be used for flight in the air that has no onboard pilot. This device excludes missiles, weapons, or exploding warheads, but includes all classes of airplanes, helicopters, airships, and powered-lift aircraft without an onboard pilot. UA do not include traditional balloons (see 14 CFR Part 101), rockets, tethered aircraft and un-powered gliders.


Crewmember [UAS]: In addition to the crewmembers identified in 14 CFR Part 1, a UAS flightcrew member includes pilots, sensor/payload operators, and visual observers (VO), but may include other persons as appropriate or required to ensure safe operation of the aircraft.


Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS): An unmanned aircraft and its associated elements related to safe operations, which may include control stations (ground, ship, or air-based), control links, support equipment, payloads, flight termination systems, and launch/recovery equipment. It consists of three elements:

Unmanned Aircraft;

Control Station;
And Data Link.


National Airspace System (NAS): The common network of U.S. airspace—air navigation facilities, equipment, and services; airports or landing areas; aeronautical charts, information and services; rules, regulations, and procedures; technical information; and manpower and material.


Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen): According to the FAA’s Destination 2025, (2011): “NextGen is a series of inter-linked programs, systems, and policies that implement advanced technologies and

capabilities to dramatically change the way the current aviation system is operated. NextGen is satellite-based and relies on a network to share information and digital communications so all users of the system are aware of other users’ precise locations.”

Airworthiness Certification: process that the FAA uses to ensure that an aircraft design complies with the appropriate safety standards in the applicable airworthiness regulations


Certificate of Waiver or Authorization: an FAA grant of approval for a specific flight operation. The authorization to operate a UAS in the NAS as a public aircraft outside of Restricted, Warning, or Prohibited areas approved for aviation activities


Collision Avoidance: the Sense and Avoid system function where the UAS takes appropriate action to prevent an intruder from penetrating the collision volume. Action is expected to be initiated within a relatively short time horizon before closest point of approach. The collision avoidance function engages when all other modes of separation fail.


Communication link: the voice or data relay of instructions or information between the UAS pilot and the air traffic controller and other NAS users


Control Station: the equipment used to maintain control, communicate with, guide, or otherwise pilot an unmanned aircraft


Crewmember (UAS): in addition to the crewmembers identified in 14 CFR Part 1, a UAS flightcrew member includes pilots, sensor/payload operators, and visual observers, but may include other persons as appropriate or required to ensure safe operation of the aircraft


Data link: ground-to-air communications system which transmits information via digital coded pulses


Detect and Avoid: term used instead of Sense and Avoid by RTCA


Optionally Piloted Aircraft: aircraft that is integrated with UAS technology and still retains the capability of being flown by an onboard pilot using conventional methods


Pathfinder: an initial UAS airworthiness certification program that will aid the FAA in the establishment of certification requirements


See and Avoid: when weather conditions permit, pilots operating instrument flight rules or visual flight rules are required to observe and maneuver to avoid another aircraft


Self-Separation: Sense and Avoid system function where the UAS maneuvers within a sufficient timeframe to remain well clear of other airborne traffic


Sense and Avoid: the capability of a UAS to remain well clear from and avoid collisions with other airborne traffic. Sense and Avoid provides the functions of self-separation and collision avoidance to establish an analogous capability to "see and avoid" required by manned aircraft 


Small Unmanned Aircraft: UAS weighing less than 55 pounds


Visual line-of-Sight: unaided (corrective lenses and/or sunglasses exempted) visual contact between a pilot-in-command or a visual observer and a UAS sufficient to maintain safe operational control of the aircraft, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to see and avoid other traffic or objects aloft or on the ground


Colin Guinn is a product development expert and serial entrepreneur. He most recently founded Austin startup Hangar, after serving as Chief Revenue Officer at 3D Robotics and co-founding and serving as CEO of DJI North America. He is one of the most interviewed experts on robotics technology in the world, and has been featured at premier industry conferences and in countless top-rated publications and newscasts, including 60 Minutes, Techcrunch, and Fast Company.

Colin’s uniqueness to the business world is that he understands the technology in two dialects: the granular argot necessary to communicate with an engineer, and the simple, digestible language that’s interesting to the average consumer.


His e-book below is amazing!

Adobe Acrobat document [18.2 MB]

March 28, 2016 - FAA projects 7 million UAVs sold in US by 2020

Read more in their Aerospace Forecast below

and below that the Concept of Operations regarding flight crew training etc.

Adobe Acrobat document [640.2 KB]
Adobe Acrobat document [2.1 MB]
Adobe Acrobat document [1.7 MB]
Adobe Acrobat document [705.1 KB]


May 2016 - Game of drones - AOPA Article


April 22, 2016 - Aviation Week Article - The Strange History Of The Word ‘Drone’


UAS Maintenance: The same, but different

Great article written to address these issues.... since there is no compliance program with the FAA as yet, despite UAS being classified as aircraft.

Adobe Acrobat document [1.5 MB]


The UAV Digest is a weekly audio podcast bringing you coverage of unmanned aerial vehicles and systems,

created by David Vanderhoof and Max Flight - the two hosts of the show.


UAV111 UAVs and the Law - Guest speaker Dr. Sarah Nilsson September 4, 2015


Marcelo Lewin




The Drone Dude Podcast


Interview with Dr. Sarah J. Nilsson, Esq. on July 10, 2015


The Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi was established by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Oct. 31, 2013, as a research center in partnership with the Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).

Contact Me

Sarah Nilsson, J.D., Ph.D., MAS


602 561 8665


You can also fill out my 

online form.

Get Social with Me

View Sarah J. Nilsson's profile on LinkedIn



Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is for EDUCATIONAL purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice. 

While the author of this website is an attorney, she is not YOUR attorney, nor are you her client, until you enter into a written agreement with Nilsson Law, PLLC to provide legal services.




Steward of 

Little Free Library

Print Print | Sitemap
© Sarah Nilsson