Getting Complex FAA Waivers for UAS Operations

4 August 2020 | Specialized FAA Waivers

Since unmanned aircraft showed up on the scene widely in the middle of the past decade, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has admittedly struggled to keep regulations in pace with emerging technology. The decade between 2006-2016 saw the FAA effectively ban the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial operations. Requiring difficult-to-obtain exemptions, commercial use of drones meant the operator had to adhere to rules developed primarily for manned aircraft operations. As an early holder of one of these exemptions, Skyfire Consulting has had a unique view of the shifting regulatory landscape surrounding unmanned aircraft. Our experience obtaining a 333 Exemption led us to become involved with helping public safety agencies operate as Public Aircraft Operators under a Certificate of Authorization. This in turn provided Skyfire the opportunity to work on developing Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) to meet safety and risk mitigation requirements to be able to fly unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight, over people, from moving vehicles, and aircraft that do not fit into the scope of Part 107, the FAA framework that allows for commercial operations of drones but limits aircraft to less than 55 pounds. Skyfire was even instrumental in helping Chula Vista Police Department obtain the first of its kind Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) waiver to operate drones under its Drone as a First Responder (DFR)  program constantly shifting regulatory frameworks and recency of implementation has created a significant amount of confusion and misinformation. At Skyfire, we pride ourselves in having the most up to date information and the ability to explain it. We can help your agency navigate tough questions like which FAA framework to follow and how to remain in compliance. We can help you create safety classes to apply for waivers to part 107 and special circumstances under a COA. At Skyfire, our goal is to help you implement UAS so that it becomes another tool to help you better support your communities and get home safely. While only a piece of the larger puzzle, having an understanding of and remaining in compliance with FAA regulations will ensure your UAS program remains successful.