For businesses flying Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) commercially under a Section 333 Exemption, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has increased the “blanket” maximum altitude authorization to 400 feet.
The FAA previously set a nationwide Certificate of Authorization (COA) in place for Section 333 Exemption holders, allowing them to fly to a maximum altitude of 200 feet.
This new COA allows commercial UAS flights to fly up to 400 feet within the United States – except within restricted airspace or other FAA prohibited areas, such as, major cities.
This is another milestone in our efforts to change the traditional speed of government,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry our unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.
With the new COA in place, the FAA expects the workload for COA applications to reduce for their Air Traffic organization, government agencies and industry UAS operators. They project the need for individual COAs to decrease by 30 to 40 percent.
Under the new blanket COA, the FAA permits government UAS operations and Section 333 Exemption holders to fly UASs at or below 400 feet as long as their aircraft weighs less than 55 pounds.
This is a BIG news for the commercial UAS/drone industry.