Oregon’s UAS Test Ranges embrace new Part 107 Rules

The announcement of the Part 107 rules for UAS (Drones) has been a long time coming.
Part 107 will essentially replace the need for the vast majority of Section 333 Exemptions – the way commercial operators were able to legally fly up until now.
The 333 exemption was initially (a year ago) viewed as a detriment to the federally authorized test ranges, but experience has shown that was not the case. Very few 333’s are used in support of flight testing. Most all, probably in excess of 98%, are used for photography, inspections and agriculture applications.
Replacing most 333’s with the Part 107 rules doesn’t alter this equation as far as business opportunities for Oregon’s three UAS Ranges. What it does for the ranges at Pendleton, Warm Springs and Tillamook is open up the market for new innovation and development.
Small UAS operators never really needed a test range – they just needed a less restrictive way to get their business off the ground. In the past 12 months there were about 4,000 exemptions issued under Section 333. In the next 12 months the new Part 107 rules will likely jumpstart over 100,000 commercial operators with legally registered equipment and properly certificated pilots.
By removing the regulatory barriers for the commercial use of drones and creating a universal set of rules, the FAA has advanced a legitimate and rapidly growing market for new innovative drones and related equipment. Oregon manufacturers and systems developers will now be willing to invest and expand capacity because they know there are very large numbers of customers ready to buy their products for commercial applications.
Many of these more advanced developments and capabilities will fall outside of the new Part 107 guidelines and need to be proved at a test range. As Part 107 only covers aircraft up to 55 pounds, anything over 55 pounds will require a special exemption and other approvals and will almost certainly be tested at one of Oregon’s ranges. Advanced operations such as beyond visual line of sight, night missions, altitudes greater then 400 feet, or speed greater than 100 mph and testing in airport environments will be conducted under the scrutiny of a test range. With a rapidly expanding market, there will be much more development in these mid-size platforms –
which will require flight testing and product certification at the Oregon Test Ranges.
The three Oregon Ranges are the only UAS proving grounds on the West Coast of the contiguous United States and are part of the Pan Pacific Unmanned Test Range complex. The Oregon Ranges offer standardized, FAA-approved methods to obtain authorization for non-Part 107 flight operations in the National Airspace System. The Oregon Ranges offer ease of access, diverse airspace and terrain for flight testing and market development, and timely, responsive customer service to ensure a successful project.