The FAR Part 5 Final Rule: A New Era for Drone Safety and Compliance

Flytrex gets FAA Approval, Flytrex funding Flytrex gets FAA approval for drone deliveryExploring the FAR Part 5 Final Rule: Enhancing Drone Safety and Compliance

by DRONELIFE Contributing Editor Paul Rossi

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As an aviation enthusiast and an active participant in the ever-evolving drone industry, the release of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Final Rule on Safety Management Systems (SMS) marks a significant milestone. Published on April 26, 2024, the FAR Part 5 Final Rule ushers in enhanced safety protocols for drone manufacturers and operators. Here, I’ll delve into the specifics of this rule, highlighting the key changes, effective dates, and compliance timelines that are crucial for Part 21 delivery drone manufacturers and Part 135 delivery drone operators.

Overview of the FAR Part 5 Final Rule

The FAR Part 5 Final Rule extends the requirement for Safety Management Systems to include manufacturers under Part 21 and operators under Part 135, including businesses focusing on drone delivery. The rule is designed to integrate safety management principles into existing systems and processes, ensuring a higher standard of safety across the drone industry.

Key Changes

The key changes introduced by the FAR Part 5 Final Rule include:

  • Mandatory SMS Implementation: All Part 21 manufacturers and Part 135 operators are now required to implement a comprehensive SMS. This includes four main components: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion.
  • Enhanced Risk Management: Manufacturers and operators must identify safety risks associated with their operations and manage them effectively. This proactive approach aims to mitigate risks before incidents occur.
  • Increased Reporting and Transparency: There is a greater emphasis on the collection and analysis of safety data to facilitate continuous improvement. This includes mandatory reporting of safety issues without fear of retribution.
  • Training and Education: The rule mandates regular safety training for all employees involved in manufacturing and operating drones, fostering a culture of safety.

Effective Date and Compliance Timelines

The FAR Part 5 Final Rule comes into effect on May 28, 2024. However, there are staggered compliance timelines to allow organizations adequate time to adapt:

Part 21 Manufacturers: For existing part 21 certificate holders, the deadline for submission of SMS implementation plans is no later than 6 months after the final rule’s effective date. SMS must be implemented by these entities no later than 36 months after the effective date. For Production Certificate (PC) applicants or Type Certificate (TC) holders entering into a licensing agreement, the deadline to implement SMS is changed to no later than 36 months after submission of the implementation plan.

Part 135 Operators: The compliance timeline for existing Part 135 operators is extended from 24 months to 36 months, to fully implement SMS. This extended timeline recognizes the operational complexities and the need for a systematic approach to integrating safety management practices. Currently, only five(5) companies have received a Part 135 UAS Air Carrier Certificate, issued specifically for conducting Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone deliveries across the United States.

Implications for the Industry

The FAR Part 5 Final Rule is not just a regulatory update; it is a transformative move towards a safer and more reliable future in drone operations. For manufacturers, the rule means redesigning some of their processes to embed safety as a core component. For operators, the emphasis will be on continuous improvement and learning from each flight operation.

Conclusion

As we advance towards a more automated and aerially connected world, the importance of robust safety frameworks cannot be overstated. The FAR Part 5 Final Rule by the FAA is a proactive step in this direction, ensuring that the burgeoning drone industry remains both innovative and safe. For companies in the drone sector, compliance is not only about adhering to regulations but also about embracing a culture that places safety at the forefront of technological progress.

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nine ten dronesnine ten dronesPaul Rossi is the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Pilot atNine Ten Drones, a N. C.-based drone services company, training center, and reseller.  Rossi is also the Outreach Coordinator for the North Carolina Chapter of AUVSI.  A graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School, Rossi is passionate about the aviation industry.  He holds both a private pilot’s license for manned aircraft and a Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate.  You can see more videos and product information on the Nine Ten Drones YouTube channel.

Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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