FAA approves new method for flying drones over people

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a test method from the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership that allows drones to be flown over people.

The new testing methods allow the use of parachutes when assessing potential failure modes. Tests were conducted in partnership with the Center for Injury Biomechanics.

The drone industry was provided a pathway for flying over people with the FAA’s establishment of the rule in 2021, which allows for flights over people, but only after a drone is tested to show it complies with the rule. 

Parachutes can mitigate risk to people on the ground and must be tested according to ASTM International’s Standard Specification for Small Unmanned Aircraft System Parachutes.

The Virginia Tech Partnership’s method has now been accepted by the FAA and published as a notice of availability in the federal register, establishing its availability for use. 

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Image by Eleanor Nelsen for Virginia Tech

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