Colleges and Universities Read the Fine Print

Many Colleges and Universities with an UAS education program have been calling us and telling us that they no longer need the Section 333 any more because they were “Good to fly Drones”, based upon the FAA Administrators comments at the AUVSI trade show in New Orleans earlier this month.
Acting as Chief Pilot for Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC, I was at the event and heard the FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, in person. Based upon the announcement it really did sound like the College and Universities were given a “free pass” on the Section 333 exemption requirements. But after reading the “Education Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” by Reginald Govan, Chief Counsel, FAA, dated May 4, 2016, it is clear that Colleges and Universities will need to read the fine print.
The Memorandum states and clarifies students operating the UAS for hobby and recreation use only according to part 336 is permissible as long as direct or indirect compensation is not given.  Secondly this new interpretation gives students the rights to conduct UAS activity in accordance to Section 336 in furtherance of the students aviation related education at an accredited educational institution.
The Memorandum states that facility members teaching at aviation related courses at an accredited educational institutions may assist students who are operating the UAS, the facility member is not intended to be the direct operator of the controls, but is secondary and only there to take change and immediately land in case of loss of control (Sorry … No demonstration flights by the Professor).
The FAA restates the four ways UAS flights are permitted:
(1) Under Part 336 operating as a hobby or recreation with no economic benefit;
(2) as a Public Aircraft owned by the Public entity and operating under a Certificate of Authorization/Wavier (COA);
(3) Under a UAS Aircraft Certification Type Rating with a COA (costs the Mfgr over $2 million per Model);
(4) Under the Section 333 exemption grant process and a COA.
Today, if a professor wants to fly an UAV/UAS/Drone during a college or university class as a demonstration or as part of the course curriculum the professor would need to: (1) operate under a Section 333 exemption grant or (2) use one of the very, very few drones that have received a UAS Aircraft Certification Type Rating with a COA; (3) be certified as a Public entity and own or lease their own public drones and apply for and receive a Public COA.
 Bottom line: Students are given a pass to fly drones as hobbyists for their own educational activities as long as the student does not gets paid, professors can help land the drone in case of a problem, but are still under the old rules.
To see a copy of the FAA Memorandum please go HERE

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Drone Privacy Practices Adopted by Stakeholder Group

Consensus was reached in a proceeding of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce on a set of privacy practices for the commercial and recreational use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as “drones.”

This agreement, reached on May 18, 2016, successfully concludes a process initiated by President Obama on February 15, 2015, when he called on NTIA to convene a multistake holder process to develop and communicate best practices in order to “promote the responsible use of this technology in a way that does not diminish rights and freedoms.”

In the resulting process, dozens of representatives of diverse industry sectors, civil society and academia formally met a half dozen times under the auspices of the NTIA.

The final best practices were drafted and supported by a combination of civil society groups:

  • Center for Democracy & Technology
  • New America’s Open Technology Institute
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • Online Trust Alliance
  • NetChoice

and industry participants with diverse interests in the use, manufacture and/or sale of UAV technology:

  • Amazon
  • X—formerly known as Google X
  • CTIA, Consumer Technology Association
  • Small UAV Coalition
  • Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
  • Software & Information Industry Association
  • PrecisionHawk

as well as media groups:

  • News Media Coalition
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • National Association of Broadcasters
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Digital Content Next


The best practices, which apply to both business and private use of drones, are voluntary and do not supplant any applicable federal or state law.  They nonetheless provide guidelines that may be helpful to businesses and hobbyists as they seek to use drones in a privacy-protective manner.

Highlights of the consensus best practices below.

Highlights of Consensus Best Practices

What’s Covered.  The best practices apply to the collection, use or disclosure of data that identifies a particular person and will likely be linked to a person’s name or other personally identifiable information.  Blurring a photograph or otherwise de-identifying data takes it outside the scope of the best practices.

Notice.  As a general matter, businesses should offer a privacy policy if they anticipate collecting personal information.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy.  When individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, drone operators should not purposefully collect personal information unless they have permission or a compelling reason to do so.  In addition, drone operators should avoid the persistent and continuous collection of personal information without permission or a compelling reason.

Minimize Flights Over Private Property.  Drone operators should make a reasonable effort to minimize flying over or within private property without permission or legal authority, unless it would impede the purpose of the drone operation or conflict with FAA guidelines.

Timely Deletion or De-Identification of Personal Information.  Drone operators should generally delete or de-identify personal information no longer needed for the purposes explained in their privacy policy, unless they have permission to keep it longer or if there are exceptional circumstances.

Limits on Public Disclosure.  Operators should avoid knowingly making personal information public, except with consent or if necessary to fulfill the purpose for which the drone is used.

Specific Use Limits.  Operators should not use personal information for employment eligibility, promotion or retention; credit eligibility; or healthcare treatment eligibility other than when expressly permitted by and subject to the requirements of a sector-specific regulatory framework or with permission.

Security.  Drone operators should take reasonable measures to secure personal information collected via UAS.

Next Steps for Drone Privacy Concerns

The privacy best practices emerged from the NTIA process as many businesses eagerly await the FAA’s final rule for the widespread commercial use of drones, which the FAA has made clear will not address privacy issues.

In addition, the FTC has announced a public workshop on October 13, 2016 to address drone privacy issues.

For questions on the best practices produced through the NTIA’s multistakeholder process, please contact Gowdy Brothers Aerospace Consultants.

Source: PerkinsCoie:


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Top 5 “Need to Know” sUAV Facts!

 This is a “need to know” list of SUAV facts composed by Gowdy Brothers Aerospace created to help you comply with the FAA’s regulations, keep you updated on the latest SUAV news, and to guide you through the next steps into the upcoming changing requirements.

1. Night Flight

Unfortunately, night flight is not presently allowed.  All drone operation, both commercial and hobbyist, must occur in daylight hours under clear meteorological operating conditions.  This is specifically stated in FAA’s Article 15 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations. Moreover, flights with drones under Special Visual Flight Rules (SVFR) are not permitted.

The definition of “night” can be found in Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 1, stating, “night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.”

2. Operating a Drone from a Moving Vehicle

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace regulatory consultants have had many conversations with the FAA about the legality of operating a drone from a vehicle as a means to maintain the requirement for visual line of sight (VLOS), while enabling the pilot in control (PIC) and his/her visual observer (VO) to cover larger distances.

This would enable a much more efficient and cost-effective alternative to more traditional manned aircraft inspection, especially for applications to inspect linear infrastructure like power lines or oil pipelines.

Unfortunately, the FAA currently forbids this activity.  The FAA’s Article 25 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations is explicitly clear  “The UAS may not be operated by the PIC from any moving device for vehicle.”  No operation from a moving vehicle is permitted.

3.Current Drone Pilot License Requirements

Before getting into the particulars, it is noteworthy that “a pilot’s certificate is required for operation, but not required to apply for – and be granted – a 333 Exemption.”  So having a 333 Exemption does not necessarily allow you to operate a drone.

On the other hand, holding a FAA issued pilot’s license does not allow you to fly a drone for commercial purposes either.

These are not mutually exclusive – both are needed. A pilot’s license is required to operate a drone for commercial purposes.

According to the FAA’s Article 13 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations“Under this grant of exemption, a PIC [Pilot in Command] must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate… The PIC must also meet the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR § 61.56 in an aircraft in which the PIC is rated on his or her pilot certificate.”

All commercially operated drones must be operated by an FAA-certified pilot.

4. The Current 32 Regulations

The standard current rules under the 333 include certifications, operations and situations relevant to your drone circumstances and flights.  This list of regulations will be given to you from the FAA once you’ve received your exemption.

The FAA states “failure to comply with any of the conditions and limitations of this grant of exemption will be grounds for the immediate suspension or rescission of this exemption.”

So it’s important to uphold the requirements. Here is a link to the list on our website labeled “FAA Section 333 Example” .

5. Part 107 Information

The “Summary of Major Provisions of Proposed Part 107” is an article from the FAA with information about Part 107.

Here are the following provisions being proposed in the FAA’s Small UAS NPRM.

Within the “Operational Limitations” section, it includes reference to speed, time, visibility, and inspection regulations.

  • The “Operator Certification and Responsibilities” section refers to requirements to pilot age, the knowledge test, and reporting flights to the FAA.
  • The “Aircraft Requirements” section details preflight checks and n-number displays.
  • The “Model Aircraft” section explains aircraft criteria and NAS safety.
  • If you would like to see the detailed summary list of Part 107, GowdyBrothers has posted it to our website titled “Overview of Proposed Part 107”:

Thank You!

GowdyBrothers will keep you well informed through all of the FAA’s upcoming changes and development. Our goal is to have all of our clients flying legally and safely, updated on the regulations and prepared for the future.


Thank you for your continued trust and business!  We look forward to helping you grow your business and please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. Forward this email to friends or colleagues who could benefit from this newsletter as well!


DISCLAIMER: Communication of information by, in, to or through Gowdy Brothers Aerospace’s site, email communications, and newsletters is (1) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (2) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.   You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter.

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