Why FAA denying exemption for Percepto drones is a good thing

Percepto autonomous drone canada

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has denied autonomous drone solutions provider Percepto’s latest exemption request. And that regulatory ruling is something that not only Percepto but the entire drone industry needs to celebrate. Confused? Read on…

Usually, Israel-based Percepto is in the news for attaining breakthrough waivers and exemptions from the FAA, so its drones can operate remotely beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in the US. The company may have mastered the tech required to make that happen, but the regulatory process of operating a drone BVLOS without humans onsite is anything but simple.

The FAA has previously required both a Part 107 waiver approval and an exemption to 14 CFR Sections 107.15 (condition for safe operation) and 107.49 (preflight familiarization, inspection, and actions for aircraft operation). Percepto highlights that this is an onerous rulemaking process, and that exemption typically takes years to approve and is disproportionate to the risk involved.

“There is also nothing in the text of Part 107 that requires pre-flight inspections to take place in person,” Percepto explains.

So, what the company did is it demonstrated to the FAA that its pre-flight inspection went above and beyond Part 107 requirements and therefore did not require an exemption. Percepto’s procedures include drone inspection with cameras on and around the base and images to confirm safe deployment. Percepto also ensured to proactively engage with the FAA to address its questions, exceeding the federal agency’s expectations of pre-flight inspection processes.

The final result is a first-ever exemption denial move by the FAA, allowing Percepto to operate drones BVLOS without a flight crew on-site, without applying for case-by-case exemptions. This advancement for Percepto will benefit the entire industry as it seeks to streamline applications and approvals for BVLOS drone operations.

Neta Gliksman, Percepto VP of policy and government affairs, says:

Percepto is very grateful to the FAA staff for their engagement and consideration of our CONOPS and technical information to reach this groundbreaking result for Percepto and the broader UAS industry. In these circumstances, we are thrilled with an exemption denial. We look forward to continuing to work with the FAA as we bring the significant benefits of scalable BVLOS UAS operations to the US critical infrastructure industry.

Lisa Ellman, chair of the global UAS practice at Hogan Lovells and outside counsel to Percepto, adds:

This decision’s implications for BVLOS UAS operations in the United States in the near-term cannot be overstated. The FAA is opening the door to the industry for more streamlined and timely approvals for BVLOS UAS operations and the realization of their benefits for many societally beneficial use cases.

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