Changes Coming to the Flight Service Program

Recognizing a shift in users’ preferences for automated services, the FAA is changing its Flight Service operation to make it more efficient and reduce costs. The agency will continue to maintain the highest level of safety and none of these changes will affect core flight service safety functions such as search and rescue, emergency services, weather observation, NOTAM entry and dissemination, or pilot weather reports. Pilots are steadily shifting to automated and web-based tools to obtain services and Flight Service is already using this type of technology to eliminate underutilized and redundant services and reduce expenses. The FAA will phase in the changes to ease the transition for users.

For more information, including a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section, or to send comments, questions, and suggestions, please visit: http://www.faa.gov/go/flightservice.

FAA Proposes New Rule for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

On February 23, 2015, the FAA proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations. The FAA’s proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The public will have until April 24, 2015, to comment on the proposed regulation in the Federal Register, which can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150. For more information and links on the proposed rule, see the FAA’s press release page at www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/. And for a look at how UAS currently operate in the NAS, see the article “Rise of the Machines” in the January/February issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

 

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