FAA to Release Facility Maps to Assist UAS Operators

By Bradley R. Gardner

Beginning on April 27, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will make available to Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operators a facility map designed to make applications for Part 107 waivers easier. Pursuant to Part 107, a UAS operator may apply for a waiver of certain FAA-imposed restrictions such as daylight operation, line-of-sight and operation within a certain airspace. By giving UAS operators access to facility maps, the FAA is trying to streamline the Part 107 waiver process by making UAS operators aware of areas in which waivers are likely to be granted (or denied). Operators that require a waiver will be able to consult the facility map to determine if the proposed operating location is in an area that might conflict with airport or other air traffic operations, such as flights directly under the approach or departure paths of a local airport. 

This information should make it easier for operators to avoid submitting waiver applications that are unlikely to be approved, in turn mitigating time and uncertainty. By consulting the facility maps during planning phases, operators can increase the likelihood that their waiver application will be granted. Operators must note that the facility maps do not constitute approval to operate in or outside the depicted areas, but are only to be used in preparing a Part 107 waiver application. Further, selecting areas that do not appear to conflict with airports or other air traffic facilities does not guarantee that a Part 107 waiver application will be granted. 

Once the maps are released, operators will be able to access them online here. The FAA has indicated that the maps will be viewable online (including mobile devices) and will be downloadable in several formats.

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