Section 5. 14 CFR Part 91, UAS Operations

  1. TYPES AND AUTHORITY
  1. Public aircraft operating under Part 91.
  1. Public aircraft operations are defined in 14 CFR, Part 1, Definitions & Abbreviations and 49 U.S.C. § 40102, 40125.
  2. For UAS operating (including tethered/moored UAS) as public aircraft, the authority is the Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) or as specified in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the using agency and FAA Headquarters. These types include:
  1. Standard COA.
  2. Blanket COA.
  1. UAS (including tethered/ moored UAS) operating as civil aircraft operating under Part 91.
  1. Any operation that does not meet the statutory criteria for a public aircraft operation is considered a civil aircraft operation and must be conducted in accordance with all FAA regulations applicable to the operation.
  2. For UAS operating as civil aircraft the authority is a special airworthiness certificate, restricted category aircraft (21.25), Type Certificate, or a Section 44807 exemption with COAs.
  3. When the Section 44807 exemption is granted, the petitioner will be issued a Blanket COA. If the operation cannot be conducted under the provisions of the Blanket COA, the proponent must apply for a Standard COA. A waiver request to a Blanket COA will not be approved.
  1. OPERATIONS
  1. UAS operating under Part 91 COA can be VFR or IFR.
  2. The UAS Pilot-in-Command (PIC) is to give way to all manned aircraft, except when operating under IFR.
  3. UAS operations should not impede, delay, or divert manned aircraft operations, except as directed by ATC for operational necessity.
  4. If a Part 91 operation is conducted entirely at or below 400 ft. AGL then any ATC services will be contained in a Letter of Agreement or ATC Memorandum.
  5. Flights below Flight Level (FL) 180 must have a dedicated observer or a waiver to 14 CFR 91.113. These duties will be performed by a ground-based observer or chase plane. UAS pilots and observers must be responsible for only one UA at a time unless authorized in the COA.
  1. Daisy chaining of observers or observers on a moving platform may be approved on a case-by-case basis and as authorized in the COA.
  2. When a ground-based/chase plane observer is required, a pilot may not perform concurrent duties as the pilot and an observer.
  1. Procedures for non-joint-use Department of Defense (DOD) airfield operations will be specified by the DOD.
  2. For all operations occurring on-airport, follow procedures in FAA Order JO 7200.23, Processing of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requests, Chapter 6, 14 CFR Part 91 Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) Processing.
  1. RESPONSIBILITIES
  1. UAS flying under IFR should be handled in the same manner as manned IFR aircraft, however, consideration should be given to the possibility of unique UAS performance characteristics.
  2. Lost Link Procedures will vary based upon the type of UAS and must be included in the COA. ATC specialists must have access to all coordinated information available in its simplest form, to determine the actions a UAS will take in these scenarios. The Operations Supervisor/Controller-in-Charge (OS/CIC) should ensure that coordinated information is available, and if known, that the controller has a method of contacting the appropriate UAS PIC. In the event of a UAS lost link, procedures outlined in FAA Order JO 7110.65, paragraph 5-2-6, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Lost Link, will be followed.
  3. The following operations are not authorized for UAS:
  1. Instructions to visually follow another aircraft.
  2. Opposite Direction Operations (ODO).
  3. Special VFR operations.
  4. Operations requiring UAS to maintain visual separation.
  1. The use of sequencing as indicated in FAA Order JO 7110.65, Chapter 3, Section 8, is authorized with the exception of issuing instruction to follow another aircraft or to maintain visual separation.
  2. In the event of a UAS emergency, procedures outlined in FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, Chapter 10, will be followed.
  3. Air traffic facility management at facilities where UAS operations are being conducted are required to ensure air traffic controllers are familiar with the contents of each COA and any applicable LOAs impacting their area of specialization.
  4. Operational communication with any UAS PIC must be on a recorded line, when available.
  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS A AIRSPACE
  1. UAS must operate on an IFR flight plan and a standard COA.
  2. UAS must comply with the provision of § 91.135.
  3. ATC must provide separation and ATC services per FAA Order JO 7110.65 with consideration given to UAS performance characteristics and potential latency issues.
  1. OPERATIONS IN TERMINAL RADAR SERVICE AREA (TRSA)
  1. If TRSA services are provided, they will be in accordance with FAA Order JO 7110.65, Chapter 7.
  2. If it is determined that ATC will provide services in the TRSA for UAS operating entirely at or below 400 ft. AGL, those services will be specified in an LOA or ATC Memorandum.
  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS B AIRSPACE
  1. If Class B services are provided, they will be in accordance with FAA Order JO 7110.65, Chapter 7.
  2. If it is determined that ATC will provide services in the Class B for UAS operating entirely at or below 400 ft. AGL, those services will be specified in an LOA or ATC Memorandum.
  3. UAS must operate on a standard COA or in accordance with using agency/FAA UAS MOA/MOU.
  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS C AIRSPACE
  1. If Class C services are provided, they will be in accordance with FAA Order JO 7110.65, Chapter 7.
  2. If it is determined that ATC will provide services in the Class C for UAS operating entirely at or below 400 ft. AGL, those services will be specified in an LOA or ATC Memorandum.
  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS D AIRSPACE

UAS must operate on a standard COA or in accordance with using agency/FAA DOD Class D notification per the using agency/FAA UAS MOA/MOU.

  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS E AIRSPACE

UAS must comply with provisions of § 91.127 unless otherwise authorized by the jurisdictional ATC facility.

  1. OPERATIONS IN CLASS G AIRSPACE
  1. UAS must comply with provisions of § 91.126 unless otherwise authorized by the jurisdictional ATC facility.
  2. UAS must operate on a standard or blanket COA in accordance with using agency/FAA UAS MOA/MOU.
  1. LETTERS OF AGREEMENT (LOA)/MEMORANDUMS
  1. LOAs should be developed in accordance with FAA Order JO 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration.
  2. LOAs should address contingency procedures, if not contained in the COA, including but not limited to:
  1. Lost Link, to include flight termination points.
  2. Flyaway.
  3. Lost Sight of UAS by the visual observer.
  4. Any specific altitude limitations, geographic boundary limitations, preferred route assignments, and periods of operation(s). This information must be provided to the ATC facility involved in the LOA via graphical depiction.
  5. Weather requirements for operations.
  6. ATC facilities responsibilities.
  7. UAS proponent responsibilities.

NOTE-

LOAs may be used in conjunction with COAs when the ATM deems it necessary; they cannot be used in lieu of COAs.