Ed O'Grady

FAA Airspace Authorization & Waiver Experiences / Notes

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Yes Steve, I will do that from here on but the first time I didn't realize I would not have a copy! Yes there are lots of ways on a Mac to record all that information but the response from FAA was quick and the format is actually quite neat.  

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Thank you for asking, Marcel,

Inspire 1 Pro, plus 2 Streamlight TLR-1 HPL tactical lights (I'm a retired cop, already had the lights) and a mount. I am doing this just to do a demo for local law enforcement, proof of concept, to demonstrate how they could put some light on an incident scene. With the FlyHigh USA battery mod it only yields 18-20 minutes flight time. The night demo is still in the future, done a few day demos.

Were I chief of police again, I would look for a platform with longer flight time such as Matrice 600, designed for longer flight and heavy lifting. Am using the Inspire for the night demo because "you go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had" ;) Many public safety agencies are still just warming up to UAVs and their potential, and they need a little show and tell. One agency in my county (I was their chief 1999-2003) already purchased 2 UAVs based on my recommendations and are going thru the COA  process, sort of proud about that!20170215_115941.thumb.jpg.d506909bf0a94af675a15cea6241773a.jpg

I consider it my duty to help public safety agencies (at no cost), in addition to running my business. I'm retired, what else do I have to do?

 

 

spotlights2.jpg

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@Uaviator53 Sweet setup and Bight as hell. That looks great. Thank you for sharing. 

 

I am not sure why we are not using UAVs for more law enforcement, Search and rescue with infrared stuff like that. Lighting an accident scene is a great Idea and so much cheaper than a helicopter. 

Keep fighting the good fight. 

 

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I submitted an authorization to fly in Class B airspace about two weeks ago. I have not heard anything back yet which I was expecting since I think it can take up to 90 days. My question is if I should have received a confirmation email? Anyone know if they send an email when you submit the application or if there is a way to check the status of a request? Thanks. 

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Unfortunately, no, you don't get anything. The last FAA rep I spoke to told me they were "building the system as they go" and there's no notification process or way to check the status. It's frustrating, but I can tell you that I've experienced anywhere from a 2-4 week turnaround. I submitted a new one last night and was told their current timing was 3-4 weeks out...

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I have filed two identical airspace waiver requests. The first was 80 days ago, the second two weeks ago.  I filed the second one because nobody at the FAA had contacted me, nor could/would they give me any confirmation that it was being considered.  I have not received one unsolicited response or inquiry from the FAA on either request. The closest thing I got was a response to an email I sent after filing the second request that said "it is in the queue"....whatever that means. I suspect it means they don't know; otherwise, I highly suspect I would have been contacted by now.

Here are your choices in many markets if you are attempting to build a UAS photography business:

1.  Fly illegally

2. Don't fly, and allow others to take business illegally.  

I am pretty certain this system has yet to do anything other than penalize those trying to be safe. 

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On 3/4/2017 at 8:02 AM, Hawg97 said:

...I am pretty certain this system has yet to do anything other than penalize those trying to be safe. 

Is it perfect? No. Could it be faster and better designed? Yes. 

If you look at my other thread on denials, I too have frustrations with this current system. It's not an excuse to fly illegally. If you know of someone taking work from you and flying illegally, report them! The only way we will get this to move forward is by playing within the rules.  Going outside of them is not going to help our case with the FAA. 

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On 3/4/2017 at 9:02 AM, Hawg97 said:

I have filed two identical airspace waiver requests. The first was 80 days ago, the second two weeks ago.  I filed the second one because nobody at the FAA had contacted me, nor could/would they give me any confirmation that it was being considered.  I have not received one unsolicited response or inquiry from the FAA on either request. The closest thing I got was a response to an email I sent after filing the second request that said "it is in the queue"....whatever that means. I suspect it means they don't know; otherwise, I highly suspect I would have been contacted by now.

Here are your choices in many markets if you are attempting to build a UAS photography business:

1.  Fly illegally

2. Don't fly, and allow others to take business illegally.  

I am pretty certain this system has yet to do anything other than penalize those trying to be safe. 

Here are your choices in many markets if you are attempting to build a UAS photography business:

1.  Fly illegally

Not really a choice for professionals and I want to believe this forum is populated by nothing but...

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I didn't mean to suggest that people should fly illegally. I am only illustrating the absurdity of this system. 

Rules were created to purportedly create a safer environment for manned and unmanned aircraft to coexist. The reality is that it has not done that. It is just more beuracracy that is only serving to inhibit those that are playing by the rules. 

You are correct that the current system is not perfect. In fact, it is not even remotely close to acceptable.  

With all that said, I agree with playing by the rules - even if "the rules" put folks out of business before they can even get it off the ground.

Pun intended. 

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Hey Hawg, I certainly understand your point.  I also think that FAA understands it as well.  But I think that we all have to understand where FAA stands.  They have honestly tried (in my opinion) to balance everyone's needs here.  They faced a lot of opposition to the whole UAS integration/NAS problem and they are still working hard on the whole program.  The Inspectors I have spoken with along with the contractor I "negotiated" with take all this VERY seriously.  In fact, I really doubt that the general public realizes that this is real, not a hobby, not a toy.  I am making a presentation at a local Rotary Club next week and this is the gist of what I am hoping to get across.  We are accepted as professionals and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration because we've demonstrated a level of knowledge and a commitment to safety.  There are many around us (yes, I have them here as well) who are operating illegally.  They know it and we know it and I hope to point out to some business leaders here how to spot it.  But we MUST remain professional and fly legally and safely.  Of course, as I've said before, my livelihood is not dependent on all of this.  So I truly do understand the frustration that you and many others are experiencing.  This Part 107 "thing" is a work in progress so let's see where we go next. ( I really need to stop these late night ramblings).

 

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40 minutes ago, Hawg97 said:

I didn't mean to suggest that people should fly illegally. I am only illustrating the absurdity of this system. 

Rules were created to purportedly create a safer environment for manned and unmanned aircraft to coexist. The reality is that it has not done that. It is just more beuracracy that is only serving to inhibit those that are playing by the rules. 

You are correct that the current system is not perfect. In fact, it is not even remotely close to acceptable.  

With all that said, I agree with playing by the rules - even if "the rules" put folks out of business before they can even get it off the ground.

Pun intended. 

We are simpatico on this issue. Many of us started a while ago (2015 w/a 333 in my case) and have been venting our frustrations for some time now.

 

Luis

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Update:  I received my certificate of waiver or authorization.  I can operate in Class E Airspace around MCW at or below 100 AGL and a ceiling > 1000 ft.  I also have a radius around the airport that I can not operate in.  It is larger than I requested but workable.  My cert expires in September.  It was mentioned that in the future there might be authorization through an app rather than the current process.  That will be interesting to see if that becomes a reality.

Thank you to everyone who gave me guidance.  I'm sure it made my approval process much smoother.

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I applied online February 1.  Received a phone call March 2 to discuss the terms of approval.  Then on March 6 received an email with the authorization and details.  You should be hearing something soon.  I hope all goes well for you also!

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Did you request a "waiver" or "authorization"? What you got sounded more like a waiver, by it sounds like you asked for an authorization. 

I am now going on 94 days without a peep from the "less than perfect" system. It's been 3 weeks since I filed it again - also with no word. 

I might try filing for an authorization. 

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5 hours ago, Hawg97 said:

Did you request a "waiver" or "authorization"? What you got sounded more like a waiver, by it sounds like you asked for an authorization. 

I am now going on 94 days without a peep from the "less than perfect" system. It's been 3 weeks since I filed it again - also with no word. 

I might try filing for an authorization. 

@Hawg97 - if you applied for a waiver - its not gonna happen - at least not for a loooooong time. I've had a request for an airspace waiver out since this program began, no response. I've gotten 4 authorizations approved within about a months time from their submittal.

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@Hawg97, you seem to be mixing terms.  There are "airspace authorizations" and "Waivers under 14 CFR Part 107".  That's the terminology used by FAA.  Airspace authorization requests, if filed correctly, appear to be currently getting approved in the 4 to 6 week timeframe. Waivers under 14 CFR Part 107 appear to be on hold at the moment, as best as I can see in several conversations with FAA.  I was told they are working on them but not releasing them at this time.  I do know they are "disapproving" some because I got one about 2 weeks ago.  I will place a few calls in the morning to see if I can get a definitive answer on the status of waivers and post the info here tomorrow morning.

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Just to add  --  requests to fly in certain airspace are Airspace Authorizations, not waivers.  The contractor that approved my airspace authorization even said they should be considered waivers - the more I think about this the more confused I get!!!!

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9 minutes ago, Ed O'Grady said:

@Hawg97, you seem to be mixing terms.  There are "airspace authorizations" and "Waivers under 14 CFR Part 107".  That's the terminology used by FAA.  Airspace authorization requests, if filed correctly, appear to be currently getting approved in the 4 to 6 week timeframe. Waivers under 14 CFR Part 107 appear to be on hold at the moment, as best as I can see in several conversations with FAA.  I was told they are working on them but not releasing them at this time.  I do know they are "disapproving" some because I got one about 2 weeks ago.  I will place a few calls in the morning to see if I can get a definitive answer on the status of waivers and post the info here tomorrow morning.

Alas, I wish I were. I understand clearly the difference. What I did not know (and only assumed by the lack of communication) until today was that they were not considering "waivers". I spoke to an FAA rep months ago when I first tried to file for a waiver. I made a mistake on the initial application (filed for both authorization and waiver). We talked, and based on my explanation to him, i was told that a waiver is the approproate request.  I just don't remember seeing any specific communication about waivers not being reviewed. That was the last substantive conversation I've had with the FAA. Not even a "disapproval" - which, in an odd sort of way, would have been welcomed by this point.  I'll go the authorization route. 

I was curious about the specific application because what the FAA appears to be granting to some individuals appears to be more of a "waiver" - i.e. Can fly in Class E airspace below 100ft AGL with a September expiry.  If, on the other hand, the approval were for a flight to occur tomorrow between 2pm and 4pm within 1200' of a certain radius, that would appear to be an authorization.  Who knows....

Silly and no safer, but it is what it is....

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