Drone technology and applications are rapidly advancing and the regulators are trying to keep up. In a recent move, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved the use of Drones Equipped with Parachutes Over People. This is a significant approval and this waiver will accelerate the advancement of commercial drone applications.
In a groundbreaking decision, the FAA granted approval to Greeley Colorado company, Hensel Phelps Construction, approval, and waiver for parachute over people operations using a DJI Phantom 4. This approval opens many doors for the commercial drone industry and will spur further growth and development. Similar companies will have an easier route to market thanks to this development.
The parachute that Hensel Phelps Construction used was a ParaZero SafeAir system. This Israeli-based company has been working with local government to attain ASTM International (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) approval and verification. The approval vindicates the ParaZero’s commitment and investment.
The FAA press release stated: “The FAA did not certify or approve the parachute that will be used; however, the FAA determined that the waiver application sufficiently met the standard design specification (ASTM 3322-18) and that the proposed small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) operation could be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver.”
This project incorporated an 18-month effort that included many UAS Integration Pilot Programs (IPP) in order to demonstrate and verify the safety and reliability of the flight over people operation.
The ASTM F3322-18 standard came out in September of 2018 and specifies the requirements for the design, construction, and testing of sUAS parachute products. The process ensures safety standards while provides a guideline for regulators to study and approve these new developments. The waiver is groundbreaking in that the FAA has not previously worked with industry to formulate a standard that is publicly available.
The FAA stated “This waiver represents the first time the FAA has collaborated with industry in developing a publicly available standard, worked with an applicant to ensure the testing and data collected acceptably met the standard, and issued a waiver using an industry standard as a basis to determine that a proposed sUAS operation can be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver under Part 107.
This process is scalable and available to other applicants who propose to use the same drone and parachute combination. The FAA will require each applicant to provide the testing, documentation, and statement of compliance listed in ASTM3322-18 in their applications using the same drone and parachute combination.”
Vice President of Policy and Strategy at ParaZero, Avi Lozowick, went on to say “The FAA has demonstrated a truly collaborative approach, through which they help develop the ASTM standard, work together in the UASIPP and provide feedback on the waiver applications and documentation. “
“Safety is a core value at Hensel Phelps,” added Richard Lopez, National UAS Operations Executive for Hensel Phelps. “Utilizing UAS, equipped with ParaZero’s SafeAir Systems, on our job sites allows us to operate more efficiently and accurately and we are committed to leveraging this technology as safely as possible.”
The CEO of ParaZero, Eden Attias comments: “The approval of this waiver is the goal ParaZero has been striving to achieve for the past two years. A replicable process is key to enable the growth of the UAS industry.”
SOURCES: FAA, DroneLife