Civilian Drone and Model Aircraft Constituencies to Be Impacted; 60-Day Public Comment Period Now Open On Feb. 23, the Federal Aviation Administration published in the Federal Register its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) concerning proposed regulations for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“sUAS”) weighing under 55 pounds.1 The NPRM culminates over six years of agency work, and follows two years of legal challenges, advocacy and vigorous public debate concerning the current and future regulatory framework for civilian drones. The main certification and operational parameters of the proposed rules have been summarized by the FAA itself in a chart available on its website (www.faa.gov) and reported in various media outlets.2 In this Alert, we instead analyze specific aspects of the NPRM that may affect key stakeholders and that raise notable aspects of the rulemaking process as our clients and friends head into the critical 60-day comment period which ends April 24. Some of the NPRM’s more nuanced contents raises issues for various operator and manufacturer constituencies in commercial, academic, humanitarian and hobbyist contexts. The Federal Register publication of the NPRM may be found on the regulations.gov website under docket number FAA-2015-0150. Within this Alert we refer to page numbers from the FAA’s easier-to-navigate 195-page version of the NPRM located on its website. Importantly, the NPRM is a proposal only, and its possible revision and eventual publication as enforceable regulations are expected to take until late 2016 or even 2017.3 The docket for the FAA’s NPRM, which is also the location for the submission of public comments, may be found on regulations.gov by searching for FAA-2015-0150 or by following this link. A document entitled “Tips for Submitting Effective Comments” provided by the federal government can be found at this link. The public comment period on the FAA’s proposed regulations is scheduled to close on April 24. 1 See https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/02/23/2015-03544/operation-and-certification-of-small-aircraft-systems. 2 The main operational parameters involve flying no higher than 500 feet above ground level, within unaided line of sight, only during daylight hours, in Class G airspace (or in Class B/C/D/E airspace with ATC authorization), and without the need for a COA or NOTAM. Notably, the FAA is (i) creating a new knowledge-based curriculum for sUAS operator (pilot) certificates, (ii) is not requiring pilot medical exams and (iii) is not requiring sUAS to be certified as to airworthiness or to comply with various aircraft maintenance regulations. 3 Nothing in this Alert should be interpreted as a statement concerning which regulations do or do not apply to UAS or model aircraft operations at the present time or the FAA’s jurisdiction or ability to implement such regulations.www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT Substantial Shift From Positions in November 2013 Roadmap One notable aspect of the NPRM is its contrast with the FAA’s own Roadmap document issued 15 months prior. As we noted in our Alert in November 2013, the FAA’s Roadmap, which it submitted to Congress in accordance with a mandate in the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, Public Law 112-95 (“FMRA”), suggested that sUASs would be subject to airworthiness certification, pilot licensing, pilot medical exams, air traffic control clearances and other limitations such as a restriction on night operations. Some but not all of these restrictions are present in the NPRM. For example, as predicted, the proposed rules prohibit all night operations and limit operations to those within visual line of sight. On the other hand, the agency has clearly rethought its framework for operator qualifications. The FAA’s Roadmap had indicated that the sUAS regulations would include “FAA certification requirements for pilots and crew members for sUAS classes (including medical requirements, training standards, etc.) published as part of an sUAS rule by 2014.” Roadmap at 52. In contrast, the NPRM does not require sUAS operators to be medically qualified or to meet specific training standards. An “operator” (not “pilot”) certification requirement is present in the proposed rule, but is based upon an operator gaining -- and then demonstrating by testing -- aeronautical knowledge under an sUAS-specific curriculum, without any flight hours requirement or skills test. Proposed FARs 107.63-107.73, NPRM at 187-90. Nonetheless, the FAA’s approach in the NPRM does reflect the continuing agency philosophy that these technologies are to be regulated as aircraft first, using a top-down approach under existing passenger aircraft regulations first developed in the 1950s, rather than as new technology that would compel a fresh regulatory framework. For example, the NPRM asserts that persons or companies engaged in the delivery of items using a UAS for a fee are to be treated as air carriers, subject to 49 U.S.C. § 44711(a)(4). See NPRM at 39. This requirement poses a significant hurdle for future delivery by UAS. Indeed, the FAA characterizes air carriage as “beyond the scope of this rulemaking.” NPRM at 23 n. 8. While the air carrier framework makes sense in the legacy world of air transportation, where commercial passenger and cargo planes pose a substantial increased risk, it arguably makes very little sense for small commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds to be legally distinguished on the basis of whether they leave a small item behind.4 Academic, Educational and Research Uses Captured The proposed rule appears to capture within its scope academic, educational and research uses of remotely controlled model airplanes and aerial robotics, which arguably have never been regulated before. Although this is not expressly evident from the text of the proposed regulations, the explanatory section of the NPRM makes clear that one of the “possible small UAS operations that could be conducted under this proposed framework” is “[e]ducational/academic uses.” NPRM at 8, 18. The proposition that academic uses are to be regulated by the sUAS rule also seems to be confirmed by the following language concerning a proposed minimum operator age of 17: “The FAA also invites comments as to whether reducing the minimum applicant age to 16 years old would further enable academic use of small UAS.” NPRM at 98-99 (emphasis added).5 The implication of this text is that academic endeavors will be 4 The FAA “seeks comment on whether UAS should be permitted to transport property for payment within the other proposed constraints of the rule.” NPRM at 39. It is not clear how the FAA could alter this view about statutory constraints on its own authority in response to public comments alone. 5 As just one example of long-existing academic uses, a 2011 news report from Oklahoma explains how the “Kiss Institute for Practical Robotics” has been teaching thousands of middle school and high school students to control drones “by student-www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT regulated under the proposed sUAS rules, and uses falling outside the proposed framework will be disallowed. High schools, universities and other educational institutions might take issue with the proposed new regulatory framework over these activities, which have not before been the subject of aviation regulations. Recreational Model Aircraft Impact The NPRM apparently also seeks to codify, as operational rules, the criteria listed in FMRA Section 336 concerning model aircraft. Rather than taking Section 336 of FMRA as a minimum scope for devices and activities that could or should remain unregulated, as they arguably have been for decades, the FAA has proposed that the statutory criteria become the very “rules governing the operation of a model aircraft.” Proposed Part 101 Subpart E (NPRM pages 172-173). Of potentially greatest concern to model aircraft enthusiasts is the text of proposed rule 91.1(e) concerning part 91, the FAA’s aircraft operating and flight regulations. The FAA’s proposed text expressly exempts from part 91 the following devices: ultra light vehicles (part 103), Moored Balloons and Kites (part 101 subpart B), Amateur Rockets (part 101 subpart C) and Unmanned Free Balloons (part 101 subpart D). See NPRM at 172. However, conspicuously absent from the list of specific devices to which part 91 will not apply in the future are model aircraft (proposed part 101 subpart E). This omission from the proposed text of 91.1(e) could be viewed as a back-door attempt to impose all existing part 91 aircraft regulations upon operators of model aircraft. Such an imposition could be viewed as a surreptitious codification of the FAA’s June 25, 2014, so-called “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” which asserted that model aircraft “are subject to all existing FAA regulations” and set out various purported interpretations of FMRA.6 Indeed, the inclusion in the NPRM of any proposed regulation applicable to model aircraft could be viewed as contradicting the directive in FMRA that “the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” FMRA § 336. The FAA also has again (as it did in June 2014) indicated the potential for enforcement of any of its existing regulations against recreational model aircraft operators who either operate outside the FAA’s interpretation of Section 336 or who “endanger the safety of the national airspace system.” NPRM at 149, 173. The proposed rule also appears to place recreational model aircraft (or “drone”) users who do not operate strictly within the listed criteria into the complicated sUAS framework in proposed part 107 (which, among other things, would require an sUAS operator certificate and registration of each model aircraft). “[M]odel aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds that fail to meet all of the statutory criteria would be subject to proposed part 107.” NPRM at 47. This would seem to place into the fully regulated category, for example, a child operating a small toy in a manner outside those criteria (e.g. in a yard that is less than five miles from an airport, or without awareness of community-based programming). The “Interpretation” of FMRA Section 336 concerning model aircraft, published by the FAA in June 2014, drew 33,000 public comments between June and September 2014. In a recent court filing, the FAA indicated that it has not even begun reviewing the comments submitted last summer, but has only hired a third-party vendor to sort them. developed programming,” leading to competitions at the state university. See http://newsok.com/oklahoma-student-roboticsteams-competition-takes-flight/article/3629097. 6 79 Fed. Reg. 36,172 (June 25, 2014).www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT Model Aircraft Hobby Industry Impact Having included (arguably unnecessarily) the text of the FMRA Section 336 model aircraft criteria within the NPRM’s proposed regulations, the FAA has conspicuously omitted the statutory text concerning “an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft.” FMRA § 336(a). Indeed, the NPRM does not appear to address manufacturers or developers of model aircraft at all, thus potentially, by implication, placing into a highly regulated aircraft manufacturing framework countless companies in the United States that design, manufacture, test, promote or sell model aircraft to be used for hobby or recreational purposes. This does not seem consistent with the intent of Congress in 2012. We anticipate that this framework may draw a large number of comments from manufacturers of model aircraft and related accessories, and other constituents of the hobby industry. Volunteer, Uncompensated Operations That May Not Be Considered “Recreational” The NPRM is silent on the issue of whether an individual operating an sUAS without compensation or any business motive but for a humanitarian or community purpose (such as search and rescue, volunteer firefighting, community-based forest monitoring,7 unpaid news gathering, artworks, or activism) will be subject to rules intended primarily for commercial operations. Regulatory capture of these activities into the commercial category will likely be of extreme concern to groups that have formed or are forming intending to utilize sUAS technologies to help their communities, nature sites and neighbors, among others. Capturing these operations as if they are commercial aviation activities and imposing licensing, registration and other requirements would act as a disincentive and impediment to the development and execution of beneficial noncommercial uses. Moreover, such a framework for sUASs would appear to depart from analogous ultra light vehicle or unmanned free balloon regulations (among others) where there is seemingly no prohibition on an “unlicensed” operator providing, for example, information about what is visible from the air that may be of use to rescuers, firefighters, nature conservation organizations, policy advocates or other noncommercial actors who provide benefits to society. Line-of-Sight Limitation Proposed Rule 107.31 provides: § 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation. With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the operator or visual observer must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to: (a) Know the unmanned aircraft’s location; (b) Determine the unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction; (c) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and (d) Determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another. The proposed line-of-sight provision is not limited to a distance within which the operator can take steps to monitor airspace to avoid other air traffic, but requires the operator (or observer) to determine by visual sight all of the unmanned aircraft’s basic flight parameters: location, attitude, altitude and direction. We expect a significant number of commentators from the industry to take issue with these requirements, which would seem to curtail various drone applications in which the operating airspace could be safely 7 See, e.g., Jaime Paneque-Gálvez, Michael K. McCall, Brian M. Napoletano, Serge A. Wich, Lian P. Koh, “Small Drones for Community-Based Forest Monitoring: An Assessment of Their Feasibility and Potential in Tropical Areas.” Forests 5, no. 6: 1481- 1507 (2014), available at http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/5/6/1481.www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT monitored by sight while parameters like direction and altitude are monitored electronically with a downlink. Additionally, some multirotor sUAS systems employ intelligent orientation control, which makes the “attitude” of the drone from the point of view of the operator irrelevant to its directional flight control.8 These restrictions also quite obviously propose precluding operations that involve sUAS flight at significant distances from the operator or behind obstacles. This limitation is not surprising, as in recent congressional hearings FAA representatives have testified about the need to develop sense-and-avoid technologies. However, it is not clear why a beyond-line-of-sight provision was not included that turns on future certification of a sense-and-avoid system. That approach would have, in the near term after finalization of the rule, limited operations to line of sight, while also allowing the FAA flexibility to authorize more complex operations when the technology is deemed ready. As it stands, the proposed sUAS rule may need to be revisited by the FAA in another round of rulemaking in order to permit such operations, and it seemingly sets up another prolonged era in which the law will fall behind the technology.9 Notably, the NPRM takes a different proposed approach to line of sight for commercial operators from that taken by the agency last June with respect to model aircraft operators, allowing “a visual observer … to assist the operator with the proposed visual-line-of-sight and see-and-avoid requirements by maintaining constant visual contact with the small unmanned aircraft in place of the operator.” NPRM at 13. Daylight Operation; Emphasis on Sense of Sight Proposed Rule 107.29 provides that “[n]o person may operate a small unmanned aircraft system except between the hours of official sunrise and sunset.” NPRM at 180. This proposed limitation is not a surprise based on the contents of the November 2013 Roadmap and the Section 333 exemptions granted to date. However, it imposes a significant limitation on certain beneficial operations. Search and rescue operations could benefit enormously from operations at night, particularly when using thermal sensors. Certain sensors, such as those used for agriculture, also work best at night. Arguably, a small UAS operated at night that is well-lit is as safe as one operated during the daytime. Indeed, moored balloons and kites may be operated at night under FAA regulations dating back to the 1960s so long as they are lighted so as to “give a visual warning equal to that required for obstructions to air navigation.” 14 C.F.R. § 101.17. This is the case even though balloons and kites cannot quickly be maneuvered away from approaching aircraft when the operator on the ground observes nearby air traffic. We also note the absence from the NPRM of the notion that an sUAS operator (situated on the ground and not within an enclosed cockpit like a traditional pilot) may at any time of day or night sense and avoid other air traffic using auditory cues (such as the sound of approaching rotor or engine noise). Instead, the NPRM repeatedly and exclusively refers to the concept of “see and avoid.” See, e.g., proposed 14 C.F.R. 107.3 (defining a visual observer as “a person who assists the small unmanned aircraft operator to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground”) NPRM at 176 (emphasis added); proposed 14 C.F.R. 107.37 (“Each operator must maintain awareness so as to see and avoid other aircraft”) NPRM at 182 (emphasis added). The phrase “see and avoid” appears over 40 times in the NPRM while the concept of using the sense of hearing to help avoid air traffic is not 8 For example, with this feature, pulling back on a control stick always brings the drone back toward the operator regardless of its attitude or orientation. 9 The approach does seem consistent, however, with our observation later in this Alert that the FAA has invoked Section 333 as authority for this rulemaking in order to defer issues such as the use of sense-and-avoid technology for a second round of rulemaking in the future. www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT mentioned once. (The FMRA statute, in contrast, refers to “sense and avoid” rather than “see and avoid.”) Aircraft Registration; Complications for Non-U.S. Systems and Operators The NPRM contemplates registration of each commercial sUAS. Proposed FAR 107.89. Although not a complicated or expensive task, if the sUAS is manufactured outside the United States (as many of them are), there is an additional step of obtaining confirmation from the foreign aviation authority that the sUAS has not previously been registered in that country.10 Additionally, these registrations are proposed to be renewable every three years, NPRM at 127, which strikes us as longer than the technology life cycle for many sUAS platforms. The NPRM also indicates that drones owned by foreign persons or entities may fall into a complex and yet-undetermined framework for registration, “special operating rules” and also could be subject to international agreements. NPRM at 43-44. Considering that the operations contemplated by the NPRM are all within line of sight of the operators/observers and involve small systems, these registration requirements may be viewed as overly complex and unnecessary. They may discourage foreigners from visiting the United States to conduct beneficial commercial drone work. This restriction may be of particular concern to potential sUAS services clients because a significant segment of the world’s commercial drone operational expertise is currently being developed in other countries where UAS regulatory schemes have already been implemented.11 The FAA maintains that its “statute prohibits a person from operating a civil aircraft that is not registered.” NPRM at 23, 95, citing 49 U.S.C. § 44101(a). (The FAA has not explained how this supposed statutory mandate has been avoided for decades with respect to ultra light vehicles, amateur rockets, kites, model aircraft and unmanned balloons.) The registration, and the complications it may present to various operators, may strike some as yet another consequence of treating these technologies as if they must fit into an existing legal framework created decades ago for passenger aircraft. Micro UAS Rule Alternative The FAA indicates in its NPRM that it is considering a “micro” UAS rule that would propose a more relaxed set of requirements for civilian drones that are below a certain weight. See NPRM at 54-59. A Petition for Rulemaking filed by Kramer Levin in December 2014 on behalf of client UAS America Fund LLC is specifically cited in the NPRM as one possible framework for that category, Id. at 59, and that petition has been placed in the official NPRM docket here with an invitation from the FAA to comment upon it. (The UAS America Fund Petition seeks a final direct rule governing micro unmanned aircraft to be issued immediately, consistent with FMRA Section 333, and to avoid the anticipated two-year delay between issuance of an NPRM and finalization of its proposed regulations.) 10 See Information to Aid in the Registration of Imported Aircraft, AFS-750-1241, available at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/media/AFS-750-124I.pdf. 11 For example, in 2014, the U.K.-based company Helicam won a technical Academy Award for its development of a drone cinematography platform. See “19 Scientific and Technical Achievements to Be Honored With Academy Awards,” available at http://www.oscars.org/news/19-scientific-and-technical-achievements-be-honored-academy-awardsr. Under the NPRM, the ability of that company to be hired to do work in the United States using its award-winning platform could be prohibited or made more difficult.www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT The absence of any discussion of such a category in the November 2013 Roadmap and the absence of any “micro” discussion in the Aviation Rulemaking Committee reports filed in the rulemaking docket suggest that this proposition was added as an alternative approach very recently. Indeed, the FAA’s Executive Order 12866 checklist document indicates that, after executive review, the FAA “added discussion of a micro UAS alternative,” suggesting it was added only after the original NPRM had been submitted for executive review in October and after the UAS America Fund Petition had been filed.12 Given that this alternative is a recent addition, manufacturers and operators interested in establishing a less-regulated UAS category should consider commenting on this proposal, including specific operational parameters. Only a Temporary Rule? Perhaps the most striking, if not troubling, aspect about the NPRM is its repeated invocation of Section 333 of FMRA as the basis for rulemaking. The FAA writes that it is “proposing a rule that, pursuant to section 333 of Public Law 112-95 [FMRA], will integrate small UAS operations posing the least amount of risk.” NPRM at 34 (emphasis added). Section 333, which is currently being used by the agency as authority for case-by-case exemptions, is referred to dozens of times throughout the explanatory sections of the NPRM as a rationale for various provisions. The last lines of the NPRM indicate that it is specifically being issued under the authority of Section 333. Id. at 195. This repeated invocation of Section 333 is curious, as it is Section 332 of FMRA, not Section 333, that sets out congressional UAS rulemaking mandates. The distinctions between Sections 332 and 333 of FMRA are legalistic, but potentially significant. Section 332(b) is the statutory provision that directs the FAA to publish in the Federal Register “a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems that will allow for civil operation of such systems in the national airspace system.” Pub. L. 112-95 at § 332(b) (emphasis added). It is also Section 332(b), not Section 333, that calls for the FAA to publish “a notice of proposed rulemaking [NPRM] to implement the recommendations of the [FAA’s integration] plan.” Section 332 also contains the widely noted Sept. 30, 2015, deadline “for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” Section 333, in contrast, reflects Congress’ apparent attempt to jump-start a regulatory framework in advance of the time-consuming NPRM process the FAA was to conduct concerning unmanned aircraft systems. That provision asks the FAA to “establish requirements for the safe operation” of “certain unmanned aircraft systems” “before completion of the plan and rulemaking required by section 332” (emphasis added). Section 333 expressly contemplates that its directive would be carried out “not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of [FMRA]” – a timeframe that certainly does not appear to contemplate a full NPRM process. Section 332(b)(1) also refers to Section 333 as an “expedited operational authorization” provision, not a rulemaking directive subject to full notice-and-comment rulemaking. The invocation of Section 333 throughout the NPRM, rather than the rulemaking directives in 332(b), suggests that the FAA potentially considers this NPRM to be only an interim and limited step to small UAS regulation rather than the notice of proposed rulemaking for a “final rule” that the public expected, and that Congress requested, in 2012. The use of Section 333, rather than Section 332 may also have 12 The NPRM also cites Canada as an example of a country with a segmented regulatory framework for very lightweight drones. The Canadian exemptions for 2-kilogram and 25-kilogram unmanned aircraft systems categories were announced in November 2014, after the FAA’s draft NPRM had already been submitted to OMB. www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT caused the FAA to artificially tie its own hands as to certain operational parameters. For example, section 333(b)(1) specifically refers to “operation within visual line of sight.” The FAA describes this clause as a “statutory direction” and appears constrained by it. NPRM at 67. (There is no direction or even mention of “visual line of sight” in Section 332.) Finally, another reason for this approach may be to skirt the milestones and rulemaking deadlines set out in Section 332, perhaps in anticipation of a new statutory schedule that may be included in the FAA’s reauthorization bill expected this fall. Omissions in Economic Cost and Benefit Analysis Together with the NPRM, the FAA released a regulatory evaluation from its economic analysis division. See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, February 2015. 13 The evaluation asserts a minimal burden because of the anticipated low cost of sUAS operator certification as well as the lack of an airworthiness certification requirement. However, the economic study presumes that there is no existing commercial market today that the proposed regulations will impact. Even a casual observer of the drone industry cannot help but recognize that there are countless commercial drone businesses already long established, employing people and serving customers. The FAA asserts that “it is difficult to estimate the potential costs of this proposed rulemaking because many of the proposed requirements rely on market forces for a market that does not yet exist.” Id. at 27. But the market already exists. Indeed, according to one estimate, there is already a $180 million commercial drone services market in operation in the United States.14 That these operations may be viewed by some as existing in an unsettled regulatory status does not render them valueless. By analogy, the Uber ridesharing car service platform is often alleged to be operating in violation of local taxi and limousine violations (a claim the company frequently challenges), yet was recently reported to have received a $41 billion valuation.15 It seems evident that even future regulations have an impact on the value of existing business plans and models. The imposition of regulations upon businesses that are already in operation arguably incurs a cost to those businesses that is simply disregarded in the FAA’s economic impact analysis. The FAA is therefore able to assert, without any specific analysis, that “[m]ost of the compliance costs for the proposed rule would occur in the application process for a small UAS operator” – a cost of only a few hundred dollars. However, the economic impact of these proposed regulations on existing businesses is much greater, in part because the FAA’s position contemplates not only regulation of commercial transactions involving an exchange of money, but also any use of an sUAS for a “business” or other non-recreational purpose. 13 Available here. 14 Private conversation with analyst Colin Snow. This estimated market size is based on 3,000 existing operators earning an average of $60,000 per year (or realizing an equivalent average imputed value to their businesses). 15 See Douglas MacMillan, Sam Schechnet and Lisa Fleisher, “Uber Snags $41 Billion Valuation,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 5, 2014, available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-new-funding-values-it-at-over-41-billion-1417715938 (last updated Dec. 5, 2014).NEW YORK 1177 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10036 212.715.9100 SILICON VALLEY 990 Marsh Road Menlo Park, CA 94025 650.752.1700 PARIS 47 Avenue Hoche 75008 Paris +33 (0)1 44 09 46 00 www.kramerlevin.com UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS ALERT It may strike some commentators as incomplete for the FAA to assume that its proposed sUAS regulations have zero impact on existing businesses, including companies that have long manufactured “UAS” equipment and whose market may change as a result of the new regulations. It may be prudent for existing commercial concerns to determine a way to provide comment to the agency about the impactupon existing businesses, particularly so that in the comment and regulatory review process the true economic impact of these new proposed regulations may be properly measured. Conclusion The NPRM has been generally greeted as a long-overdue proposal that reflects a reasonable approach to sUAS operator and device certification. However, its contents raise significant issues that may be of concern to various manufacturer and operator constituencies in commercial, noncommercial and hobbyist contexts. The period for public comment in response to the NPRM is scheduled to close on April 24.