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


2019 October 1

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces FAA Certification of UPS Flight Forward as an Air Carrier

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today (October 1, 2019) announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded air carrier and operator certification to a UAS, or drone delivery company, UPS Flight Forward.

“This is a big step forward in safely integrating UAS into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in uncrewed aviation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.     

Through the Department’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), the FAA has now approved a Part 135 operating certificate for UPS Flight Forward. This allows the company to perform revenue-generating package delivery activities within federal regulations. UPS Flight Forward may now operate multiple drones under one certificate. Under Part 135, the company can deliver vital healthcare supplies including by flying beyond visual line of sight.

As a participant in the U.S. Transportation Department’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) partnered with UPS Flight Forward. As the operator, they have been engaged in delivery of healthcare supplies around a major hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. The flights have focused on the delivery of blood for potentially life-saving transfusions, as well as other medical samples for lab work.

The company demonstrated that its operations met the FAA’s rigorous safety requirements to qualify for an air carrier certificate. This is based on extensive data and documentation, as well as test flights. Visit our website for more information about the UAS IPP.

Goldman Sachs - Drones reporting for work


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!

Going Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) - Guinn Partners
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© Ethan Hedrick


FAA Section 333 Petition Guidance and Checklist with links
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FAA Public guidance for Petitions for Exemption under Section 333
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2015 - SciTech Lawyer - Drones on the Horizon - Matthew Henshon and Gil Whittemore
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March 15, 2016 - The FAA made changes to the Section 333 exemption process. Prior to now, the FAA had required anyone seeking an exemption to list all of the makes and models of UAS that they want to use. The exemption limited them to those vehicles. If the exemption holder purchased another model, an amendment was required to add that different model to their exemption. This is now changed. Below is a list current as of April 4, 2016 of all approved UAS... and thus the UAS operator is authorized to operate any UAS on this list without needing to file any amendments.

All exemptions granted in the now have the following language:

The petitioner proposed to use UAS that have previously been approved by the Secretary of Transportation under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. UAS that have been previously approved by the Secretary, including the aircraft proposed by the petitioner, are found on the List of Approved UAS under Section 333. The list, which is updated monthly, is posted at under docket number FAA-2007-3330. The petitioner is also authorized to operate any UAS on that list, when weighing less than 55 pounds including payload while this exemption is valid.

March 31, 2016 - FAA expands online small UAS Registration

Starting today, owners of sUAS used for commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operations will be able to use the FAA’s new, streamlined, web-based registration process to register their aircraft. The web-based process will significantly speed up registration for a variety of commercial, public use and other users. Registration for those users is $5, the same low fee that model aircraft owners pay.


March 29, 2016 - FAA Doubles "Blanket" Altitude for Many UAS Flights

See excerpt below from the FAA website!


April 21, 2016 - FAA Urges Non-hobby UAS Registration Via New System


April 21, 2016 - UAS Symposium Broadens Dialogue on Integration


April 20, 2016 - FAA Grants Its First Approval for Flights of Commercial Drones at Night

In a detailed, 24-page decision, John Duncan, head of the FAA’s flight-standards service, laid out the reasoning behind the new conclusion:

- In addition to requiring anticollision lights on the drone visible to pilots of crewed aircraft and anybody else at distances up to 5,000 feet, the operator agreed to notify agency officials days before certain flights commence.

- Also, the person controlling the drone will be a traditional pilot with the required medical certificate plus mandatory training in night flights;

- The UA must automatically provide the pilot with its precise location and altitude; and - - The company pledged to halt or land flights immediately in case of serious technical glitches, or if unauthorized vehicles, individuals or aircraft encroach on the area.

Nighttime roof inspections with specialized sensors can be helpful in detecting budding structural problems.


June 21, 2016: DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for SUAS

Excerpt from the press release: "According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years."

14 CFR Part 107 goes into effect on August 29, 2016.

The regulations require pilots to keep a UA within visual line of sight.

Operations are allowed during daylight and during twilight if the drone has anti-collision lights.

The person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate.

To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate.

If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA.

The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.

Operators are responsible for ensuring a drone is safe before flying, but the FAA is not requiring small UAS to comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. Instead, the remote pilot will simply have to perform a preflight visual and operational check of the small UAS to ensure that safety-pertinent systems are functioning property.  This includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS.

Although the new rule does not specifically deal with privacy issues in the use of drones, and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property, the FAA is acting to address privacy considerations in this area. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography.

The FAA's effort builds on National Telecommunications and Information Administration published last month as the result of a year-long outreach initiative with privacy advocates and industry.

Privacy Best Practices


Part 107 will not apply to model aircraft.  Model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (which will now be codified in Part 101), including the stipulation they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.


On June 28, 2016, the FSIMS updated Volume 16 to incorporate the new Part 107 material. This volume provides information and policy guidance regarding how civil UAS operators, public, UAS operators, and model aircraft operators are authorized to conduct flight operations in a manner which complies with the applicable 14 CFRs. The primary audience for this volume is Flight Standards Service (AFS) aviation safety inspectors (ASI), their managers and supervisors, and other operational and administrative employees. The aviation industry and the general public may find this volume helpful for informational and planning purposes. Note that 14 CFR Part 11 grants of exemption are what were formerly known as Section 333 examptions.


Please read the FAA Fact Sheet and download the entire 624 page rule or the 3 page summary below as well as the Advisory Circular on how to use the rule

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April 10, 2017 - FAA Will Release Maps to Speed up Drone Authorization Applications

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to release the first set of UAS facility maps on April 27. The maps will depict areas and altitudes near airports where UAS may operate safely. They will help drone operators improve the quality of their Part 107 airspace authorization requests and will help the FAA process these requests more quickly.

Beginning April 27, users may access the facility maps at  Users will be able to download the data in several formats, view the site on mobile devices and customize their views.

By referring to the facility maps when completing airspace authorization applications, remote pilots will be able to tailor their requests to align with locations and altitudes that the maps indicate are likely to be approved for small UAS operations. This will help simplify the process and increase the likelihood that the FAA will approve their requests.

FAA air traffic personnel will use the maps to process Part 107 airspace authorization requests. Altitudes that exceed what are depicted on the maps require additional safety analysis and coordination to determine if an application can be approved. 

The maps will be informational only. They do not automatically authorize flights. Remote pilots must still submit online airspace authorization applications at The maps also do not guarantee approval for requests within the guidelines indicated by the maps. Only the FAA can grant controlled airspace access, which must be done through the authorization process.

The agency is releasing the maps in phases, with the first release on April 27 containing approximately 200 facility maps, as the first step in streamlining the airspace authorization process. The FAA plans to release facility maps over the next 12 months. Updates to the maps database will coincide with the agency’s existing 56-day aeronautical chart production schedule (PDF). If a map is not yet available, it can be expected in future releases.


Senator Cory Booker To Introduce Commercial Drone Legislation Following FAA's Amazon Ruling


Integration of Civil UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap - 2018


Law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s UAS practice head Brendan Schulman has filed with the Federal Aviation Administration a formal Petition for Rulemaking (“Petition”) on behalf of the UAS America Fund, LLC (“UAS Fund”), proposing a new “micro” UA (“mUA”) rule. The proposed regulation would govern all commercial operations for UAS that are extremely lightweight -- three pounds or less -- operated at low altitudes (below 400 feet), at least five miles away from airports and by pilots with a demonstrated level of aeronautical knowledge. 

Available for download below is Kramer Levin's Client alert

UAS Client Alert_March 11 2015_FAA Publi[...]
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An example of a granted FAA Section 333 exemption - Douglas Trudeau, Realtor - FAA-2014-0481

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