In a Final Rule published today, the NTSB is amending its regulations on the notification and reporting of aircraft accidents or incidents under 49 C.F.R. Part 830 by adding a definition of “unmanned aircraft accident” and requiring that operators notify the NTSB of accidents involving those aircraft. This type of aircraft is also referred to as an “unmanned aircraft system” (UAS), “unmanned aircraft vehicle system” (UAVS) or remotely piloted vehicle (RPV).
Under the Final Rule, an unmanned aircraft accident means:
“an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which:
- Any person suffers death or serious injury; or
- The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage.”
This definition excludes military unmanned aircraft, model aircraft, and commercial spacecraft operating under FAA waivers. The Final Rule will become effective October 25, 2010. If you would like further information regarding the Final Rule you may contact William English, Office of Aviation Safety, (202) 314-6686.
Currently these types of aircraft are predominantly used by the military. However, it is quite likely that they will see increased use by private, government and commercial entities in the future. As a result, I would expect to see a number of similar regulatory amendments in the future to accommodate and account for operation of these types of aircraft in the U.S. airspace.