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Clarification for new rule: "Operations over People", Cat 3 and Prop Guards

Kristina Fowler

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The new regs state the following:

Category 3 small UAS have further operating restrictions. A remote pilot in command may not operate a small unmanned aircraft over open-air assemblies of human beings. Additionally, a remote pilot in command may only operate a small unmanned aircraft over people if:
  • The operation is within or over a closed- or restricted-access site and all people on site are on notice that a small UAS may fly over them; or
  • The small unmanned aircraft does not maintain sustained flight over any person unless that person is participating directly in the operation or located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft.
Question for Category 3 operations: are Prop Guards required?
 

BigAl07

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Prop cages, motor kill device, or something must be employed to meet the criteria of:

"•Has no rotating parts that lacerate skin."
 

Russ Still

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The answer is still no, as you have to comply with part 89 (RID)

Compliance with Part 89 is only specified for flights over "open-air assemblies". Smaller groups and individuals may not qualify as "assemblies". That suggests to me that, in these situations, compliance with Part 89 (which is impossible for now) would not be required.

However, it is essentially moot since there are no Category 2 drones available at the moment, and I suspect one would have a hard time piecing one out that could qualify as Category 1.
 

Dave Pitman

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On the linked page, Rupprecht has a calculator for rouphly determining kinetic energy. A Mavic 2 would have to be no higher than 12 feet in order to generate less than 25 lbs. And, it must have prop guards. (mitigate laceration.)

Mavic Mini - 45 feet.
Phanom 4 Pro - 8 feet

 

Russ Still

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Hi, Dave. Unfortunately, this issue of kinetic energy and category is not up to the individual to estimate. It needs to be done by the manufacturer and has to be documented in the operating manual. It's going to require engineering testing to destruction. Also, a declaration of compliance must be submitted to the FAA. This means that Category compliance isn't going to be left up to owners (unless they want to get into the formal reengineering of the UA).
 

BigAl07

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Hi, Dave. Unfortunately, this issue of kinetic energy and category is not up to the individual to estimate. It needs to be done by the manufacturer and has to be documented in the operating manual. It's going to require engineering testing to destruction. Also, a declaration of compliance must be submitted to the FAA. This means that Category compliance isn't going to be left up to owners (unless they want to get into the formal reengineering of the UA).


What Russ said is VERY important for anyone wanting to fly under Cat 2 or Cat 3. The Manufacturer can submit their request/data to the FAA for their Declaration of Compliance no sooner than 9-12 months after 4/16/2021. For the most part, these will be from the Big Companies (Autel, DJI, etc etc) because they will have the resources ($$) for the testing that will be needed to prove the aircraft is able to meet the criteria.

We aren't going to be able to "Self Certify" the Declaration of Compliance it will come from the Manufacturer and most likely be documented in the OM and the aircraft "marked" someway to denote compliance.
 
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Dave Pitman

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Hi, Dave. Unfortunately, this issue of kinetic energy and category is not up to the individual to estimate. It needs to be done by the manufacturer and has to be documented in the operating manual. It's going to require engineering testing to destruction. Also, a declaration of compliance must be submitted to the FAA. This means that Category compliance isn't going to be left up to owners (unless they want to get into the formal reengineering of the UA).
Thanks Russ,

I'm sorry, I didn't intend to submit that the calculator was a stand-in for compliance. I posted it to show somewhat objectively how high a hurdle it is to actually comply with the current craft. I personally would see no utility in operating a P4 over people at or below 8 feet, or an M2 at 12' for example.
 

Kristina Fowler

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To be clear, even when "crossing the street" as it pertains to "Operations Over Moving Vehicles – Not Over or Within a Closed/Restricted Access Site", are prop guards still required?

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