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DOT/FAA RIN: 2120-AJ60 Publication ID: Fall 2015 
Title: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems 

This rulemaking would allow the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (small UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS). These changes would address the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems, certification of their operators, registration of the small unmanned aircraft, and display of registration markings. This action would also find airworthiness certification is not required for small unmanned aircraft system operations subject to this rulemaking.

Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 14 CFR 91   
Legal Authority: 49 U.S.C. 44701    Pub. L. 112-95   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory  Pub. L. 112-95, sec. 332(b) requires issuance of final rule 18 months after integration plan is submitted to Congress. Integration plan due Feb. 14, 2013;   08/14/2014 

Statement of Need:

This rulemaking would amend regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System (NAS). These changes would address the classification of small UAS, certification of small UAS pilots, registration of small UAS, and small UAS operational limits. The changes are necessary to allow for routine non-recreational operation of small UAS. Absent this rulemaking effort, operators would need to file a request for exemption or certificate of waiver to operate.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49 of the U.S. Code. Subtitle I, section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator, including the authority to issue, rescind, and revise regulations. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described subtitle VII, part A, subpart III, chapter 447, Safety Regulation. Pursuant to section 44701 (a)(5), the FAA is charged with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft by, among other things, prescribing regulations the FAA finds necessary for safety in air commerce and national security. This rulemaking is within the scope of that authority.


The overall quantified benefits to society will eventually be determined by market forces and the ingenuity of the entrepreneurs. We expect markets to evolve within the constraints of the proposed requirements and we assess the potential market within the context of the demand for sUAS services. We estimate the total benefits and costs associated with the requirements contained in the proposal. As this is an enabling rulemaking action, the estimated benefits cannot yet be quantified. The total estimated costs are $8.0 million.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The costs are estimated at $6,803,100 ($5,714,000 present value). The FAA has not quantified the benefits for this rulemaking because we lack sufficient data. The FAA invited commenters to provide data that could be used to quantify the benefits of this rulemaking.


Commercial operations currently have no legal means to conduct operations without an FAA-issued exemption.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  02/23/2015  80 FR 9544   
NPRM Comment Period End  04/24/2015 
Final Rule  04/00/2016 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses, Governmental Jurisdictions  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Lance Nuckolls
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW,
Washington, DC 20024