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The Long-Term Impact of Part 107 for Commercial UAS

By Luke Geiver | June 23, 2016

This week the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration provided the unmanned aircraft systems industry with an unforgettable moment by releasing Part 107—the regulations and rules regarding the commercial operation of small UAS (under 55 pounds). An analysis of the reaction of industry entities combined with coverage given to the release of the sUAS rule is telling of the impact the release of the sUAS rule could or will have on the continued emergence of UAS in our everyday lives (at work or at home).

First, look at the coverage the release drew from both industry-related media to investment publications to your local newscast. If for some reason you weren’t following the news this week, all it takes is a quick internet search of news to see that the news of the rule’s release was everywhere, covered in every main content release platform (print, online, video, social, etc.) The volume and scope of coverage shouts to all of us that this truly is a momentous time for the industry and end-users and service providers and, well, everyone. Are there questions remaining and more needed and new hurdles ahead? Without question.

Second, look at the efforts by industry to bring the announcement to the attention of pertinent audience members. Most likely, any association or industry trade group that is linked to UAS in some way has issued a statement on Part 107’s release. (If they haven’t they must have been on vacation this week). We received a massive volume of such statements. And, it wasn’t just trade groups or associations. We also received a high volume of press releases and private notes that either geared the timing of an announcement on the release of Part 107, or, were made just to remind our team that commentary was available upon request. The announcements, statements or general commentary pitches to our team came from the largest UAS related companies to companies we’ve never heard of before. This news was apparently so big that people and entities of every type wanted to be affiliated with it. (We don’t get a lot of story pitches when there is talk of a privacy concern, for example).

If the volume and type of coverage seen everywhere, or the amount of information we were given by private entities isn’t enough to show us that Part 107’s release is a major moment (possibly the moment of the year) then I would leave you with this. Provided from a small UAS developer and maker, this quote seems to provide a partial answer to the question everyone wants to know. What is the impact of the release of Part 107 on the greater UAS industry, end-users, and, well, everyone?

“This is the day we’ve been waiting for,” said Mike Dziok, marketing director for microdrones, in a release dated from today, titled, microdrones celebrates Part 107 with high-value offer. “We’ve worked hard to perfect three exceptional UAS packages, all of which are available immediately.”

Again, there are many hurdles to overcome with the FAA’s role in UAS and the needs and wants of industry, just ask any package delivery company or those looking to fly beyond-visual-line-of-sight. And, there are most likely many (at least 5,000) entities that may not have cared so much about the small rule being released as they had a competitive advantage with their 333 exemptions (some believe having a 333 will still provide a competitive edge). But, in the bigger picture, one that includes images of sUAS flying for emergency relief, surveying, inspection, photography and many other commercial applications, the release of the small UAS rule has created an impact that—60 days from now—will change the direction of the UAS industry forever like no other time in its history.