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Certification for Advanced Operations Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Criteria for Special Classes

What is Airworthiness?

Every day, the FAA works to assure that our National Airspace System (NAS) is the safest and most efficient in the world. In order to achieve this, all aircraft flying in our NAS must be reliable, controllable, and safe – no matter how small or large, or whether the crew is onboard the aircraft or piloting it remotely. Aircraft type certification helps ensure that aircraft designs meet these objectives.

Airworthiness Criteria for Special Classes of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

The FAA is publishing proposed airworthiness criteria that will be used to issue type certificates for UAS as special classes of aircraft. The type certification of UAS is a key enabler for more complex operations, including package delivery.

Each notice identifies the individual applicant's proposed UAS design and contains the airworthiness criteria for type certification proposed by the FAA. The airworthiness criteria are developed to provide a level of safety equivalent to that provided by existing airworthiness standards applicable to other categories of aircraft but that are not appropriate for this special class of UAS.

Regulatory Basis for this UAS Certification

The FAAs recently published a policy clarification to use the "special class" category under §21.17(b) to issue type certificates for certain UAS. The FAA has developed a "durability and reliability" (D&R) process to establish criteria as an element of the proposed certification basis for these aircraft. This special class process establishes a defined path to type certification of UAS, and is the first of its kind developed worldwide. Through the D&R process, applicants demonstrate that their UAS are reliable, controllable, and safe, and provide the FAA basic assurance that the aircraft will operate as intended.

UAS Airworthiness Criteria Federal Register Notices

On November 20, 2020 the following airworthiness criteria posted in the Federal Register:

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