The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued multiple waivers in June. It has allowed operators to fly drones over people, as long as they are equipped with parachutes. These types of flights are normally prohibited due to the high risk involved. On June 1st, the FAA issued a waiver to Hensel Phelps Construction Company of Greely. Now, they can operate a DJI Phantom 4 drone over people. But, they have to equip the drone with a parachute.
A 107 waiver is required to operate a small drone. The construction company is using DJI Phantom 4 drone which comes with SafeAir Phantom Parachute system. It is created by an Israeli-based company known as ParaZero. FAA has approved this type of drone for the first system. Before this, the FAA never approved any drone to fly over people.
FAA is not going to certify or approve the parachute that DJI Phantom 4 is using. But, they have made sure that the parachute meets the ASTM standard design specification. They have also made sure that the drone must be safely operated. There are certain terms and conditions of waiver that the company has to follow.
How the waiver was approved
This was the first time when the FAA has approved this waiver. The process followed to approve this waiver was unique. This was the first time when the FAA was working with the private sector. They worked closely with the private sector for the following reasons:
• Develop a new publically available standard
• Make sure that the data collected was meeting the standards
• Issuing the waiver by using industry standard. They have used the industry standard to determine the safety of drones.
This is very big news in the drone industry. Now, other companies can also get their waivers approved. FAA has already said that this process is scalable. If you are using the same drone and parachute, then you can apply to FAA for a waiver.
FAA has worked closely with companies during the waiver process. But, the information that they obtained is kept secret. They won’t share any information with the general public.
FAA has developed a publically available standard for safety. They will compare your waiver application with their standards. If your drone is fulfilling the safety standards, then you will get approved. This means that even small companies can get approved now.
The 107 waiver is the most difficult waiver to get from the FAA. The applicants need to prove that their drones can safely fly over people. Thus, they have to demonstrate that their drone is fully prepared for any scenario.
If people live near big factories, then companies couldn’t use a drone at the workplace. This was a big hindrance for the drone industry. Most companies were not investing in drone technology due to this rule.
But, all this is going to change now.
FAA has already created new UAS regulations. Now, you can operate a drone over people. It also allows drone operators to use their drone at night. These two things were previously prohibited by waiver 107. But, companies still need to get their drone approved by FAA.