Interim Rule 333 Exemptions?

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 forbids the commercial use of an sUAV in the national airspace, and currently the only way to gain approval for commercial use of an sUAV is to petition the FAA for an exemption (or wait another couple of years for the FAA to act on their proposed Part 107).  Such a petition must be filed with www.regulations.gov, and then it takes 30 days for regulations.gov to post the petition online and transmit it to the FAA.  Then you have to wait for the FAA to review the petition.  In December of last year the total wait was around 2 months.  See here.  But, currently the FAA has over 6,000 pending petitions for exemptions under Section 333, and their resources are focused on processing those petitions on a timely basis of 120 days or less.  So, while everyone at the FAA is working hard to be sure, potential commercial operators trying to follow the rules must abate their plans to start business for over 180 days.  That six month delay is devastating in today’s marketplace, giving scofflaws who are willing to operate outside of the law an unfair advantage.

I came up with an idea of interim Rule 333 exemptions.  This would permit business owners to enter the marketplace under any restrictions the FAA thought to impose and the business owner was willing to accept, while the FAA considered the petition on the merits.  The FAA told me that they didn’t offer interim exemptions, so I wrote to my congressman to suggest this.  See my letter here.  I also wrote to 3DRobotics to solicit their support for the idea.  If you agree I urge you to do the same.

The idea of interim exemptions or even web based petitions from federal agencies is hardly new.  The US Patent Office does this, and there is NO reason why the FAA couldn’t implement this immediately.  Just think; you could get an immediate exemption online with a blanket set of rules.  If the blanket rules weren’t sufficient then you could file a long form petition and wait your turn.  Of course, since most petitions would be obviated by the web based procedure the wait might not be that long.  The FAA staff could talk to the US Patent Office staff to find out how to get this done.  What a country!

`© Robert Rose 2015