The Small UAS NPRM Takes Another Step Forward

Yesterday, we wrote about the endgame for the small UAS rule and recent comments that the process might take until 2018 to complete.  Today we would like to talk about the opening move, which occurred with little fanfare in the last few days.

Before the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) can be released for comment, it first must go through a review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House.  Plane-ly Spoken has learned that the FAA has, in fact, sent the small UAS NRPM to OIRA for their review.  This provides a golden opportunity for stakeholders to influence the process before the regulation is publicly released.

As part of the review, members of the public can request a meeting with OIRA pursuant to Executive Order 12866 to discuss the proposed rule, what it should contain, and how the rule will impact interested parties — including UAS manufacturers, operators, and users.  As part of Executive Order 12866, OIRA is required to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and determine whether the benefits of the rule justify the costs.  The review process can take up to 90 days, and can be extended for an additional 30 days.  There is no minimum time for the review.  According to OIRA, the average review period is 53 days.

If OIRA’s analysis is favorable, the NPRM would then move forward.  It is possible, however, that at the end of the review period, the rule may be “returned” to the FAA, which would then have to take additional time to revise or redraft the proposed regulation.

It is OIRA’s policy to meet with any interested party, including state or local governments, small businesses or other business interests, or from the environmental, health, or safety communities to discuss proposed regulations.  The meetings are conducted under the OIRA Administrator or his designees, and a log is publicly available of all meetings.

Now is the time for serious UAS manufacturers, operators, and users to get involved in the federal government’s process and be heard.  At a minimum, it would be worthwhile to meet with OIRA and let them know that the process needs to be expedited and that the cost of continued delay of the regulations has serious repercussions.  It leads to lost revenue, lost opportunity, and an increasingly lawless attitude among would-be commercial operators who don’t think there is any light at the end of the tunnel.

(Originally posted October 2014)

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