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US Airport Letter of Agreement (LOA) for flying within 5NM

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ryan Van Scotter, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. Ryan Van Scotter

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    For those with 333 Exemptions flying in the vicinity of airports have you worked with your local airports to create a Letter of Agreement. I'm not just talking about the airport creating their own rules but an actual agreement between both parties where the terms are agreeable to all.

    The 5nm veil around my local airport encompasses the majority of our town, the LOA they have on file is their terms to further restrict UAS activity. As I see, it most of it is red tape and hoops to jump through that restrict UAS operations. I plan on writing a counter to their proposal but I'm curious to know what others have come up with.

    My Local Airport LOA (in summary)

    0) Request the issuance of a NOTAM 24hrs prior to flight operations
    (Hopefully the FAA will expedite this process for commercial operations)
    1) NLT 30 min prior you flight must contact them and request authorization/approval.
    (Why? they don't have the authority to approve or disprove flight operations)
    2) Provide them the operating areas as defined by the NOTAM
    (Because they're too lazy to read the NOTAM)
    3) Provide them PIC name, Phone number time of flight and proposed duration
    (There is no requirement to provide pilot names when operating in airspace)
    4) Notify them immediately prior to flight to ensure the area is steril
    (Not required that is what the NOTAM is for, there is no FAA sterile area requirement)
    5) Conduct operations based on VFR flight conditions
    (not required because the FAA creates flight visibility limitations)
    6) Remain 200' or below within 3nm of airport
    Okay seems reasonable
    7) Remain 400 or below when operating 3-5NM from airport
    Okay seems reasonable
    8) Maintain VLOS of UAS
    (requirement already set forth in the COA)
    9) Comply with FAA Requirements
    (Not Required by airport because it is an FAA Requirement)
    10) Perform Lost link procedure in the event of a lost-link
    (requirement already set forth in the COA)
    11) Notify airport of an emergency
    Okay seems reasonable
    12) Notify airport of the termination of operations
    (Not Required its in the NOTAM)
     
  2. SanCap

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    Assuming you have a 333 exemptions, that states you have to get an additional COA to operate outside of the limitations stated in the blanket COA that came with your 333 exemption. If you were to get an agreement with an airport which is great but you would still be violating your 333 exemption and blanket COA. I am not an authority on this but this is what I have come up against while talking with higher levels with the FAA UAS people.
     
  3. Dave Armbrust

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    Most of your objection seems to be with the NOTAM and airport notification.

    If you are a pilot, as your blanket COA requires, then you must realize that other pilots need this twenty four hour notice to make sure that they do not miss this NOTAM in their preflight planning.

    The airport needs to be notified prior to flight as you may not actually make the flight as planned. They need to know "yes you are out there flying" so that they make sure other pilots are aware of your flight.

    My suggestion is to gladly accept their LOA, and their terms, as they are under no obligation to give you one at all. Remember you are asking for special permission to NOT follow the current regulations that apply to all other aircraft.

    It too am an UAS pilot and I am also one of those manned aircraft pilots that are out there having to watch for your UA. All other aircraft are required to "see and avoid". From the ground you do not have the same advantage point that you would have if you were in the air with the UA. You are very small and difficult if not impossible to see and you do not have a transponder which means you do not show up as traffic. You do not show up as a primary target on approach radar either as you are too small.

    Honestly they really are trying to work with you and not make it intentionally difficult for you. You will also need an additional COA to cover your operation within the 5 NM of the airport. By following both of these COA and LOA you are helping the rest of us prove to the FAA and the rest of the nation that we can safely co-exsist with manned aircraft.

    Thank you for your efforts.
     
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  4. SanCap

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    You did not say if or if not you are working under a 333 Exemption. I am a Private Pilot since 1982 and am current with a 333 Exemption. I do not see where I expressed any objection to any thing of what you said. I have contacted several airports for notification, but once I tell them I am commercial I fall into a different category. Letter of agreement does not work for any airports I contacted once you are commercial. I have filed close to a dozen NOTAMS for commercial operations and for non commercial operations.

    Have you applied for and received a UAS Civil COA for flying closer to the airport than your Blanket COA has given you? Without that, the LOA means nothing. I have several UAS Civil COA's applied for and have been waiting for approval, about 90 days now.

    I have gone the extra measure to notify the local helicopter mosquito control of my intentions and my NOTAM #. I was flying with a NOTAM posted recently and had to abort my mission as I heard a low flying manned mosquito control copter. I contacted them and we chatted for a while and they will now pay more attention to NOTAMS. They were not even aware that UAS could even Create a NOTAM.

    The UAS traffic into NAS is a huge learning experience for all of us that want to use the National Airspace Safely. I am trying my hardest to conform.

    I am not trying to argue with you but trying to have an open honest discussion that will benefit all that are reading this thread.
     
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  5. ISP5557

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    I operate under a public COA and I must file a NOTAM for every flight no matter how far away from an airport. It is not a big deal. I also have to call for approval from the tower/airport manager of the closest airport prior to flight. I disagree with you saying they can not stop your flight. They have the power to stop you cold if they want to.
     
  6. SanCap

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    Are you operating under a 333 Exemption?
     
  7. ISP5557

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    No, Public COA/Blanket COA (Law Enforcement) state wide.
     
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  8. SanCap

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    That is cool, do you do your Notams by phone or have you tried doing them online via ENII system
     
  9. Ryan Van Scotter

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    Thanks for all the responses, I'm not trying to argue or be difficult.

    Please let me clarify, a Operator with a 333 Exemption may operate inside of the 5NM radius of an airport for commercial purposes if they have an agreement with the airfield manager.

    16. The UA may not operate within 5 nautical miles of an airport reference point (ARP) as denoted in the current FAA Airport/Facility Directory (AFD) or for airports not denoted with an ARP, the center of the airport symbol as denoted on the current FAA-published aeronautical chart, unless a letter of agreement with that airport’s management is obtained or otherwise permitted by a COA issued to the exemption holder. The letter of agreement with the airport management must be made available to the Administrator or any law enforcement official upon request.

    So what should be in the letter? Is it solely their terms or is it an agreement between the parties? My original post is wether or not individuals who have a COA have worked with their local airports to create a LOA. My local airport has a letter, and I will ask to be added to it and amend some portions. That said, the goal isn't to take what they are willing to give, its to ask for what we need to provide the service and be safe.

    That said, what is reasonable? A general aviation pilot can show up and fly, no tower notification. Yet if I file a Notam, and then the day of the airport authority say NO because they want to deconflict class G airspace. I am certain that the airport authority has not been given the responsibility of deconfliction of aircraft, so they can't say No. Unless they have issued a Notam as such or a TFR has been imposed, wildfire, natural disaster, or Mickey Mouse is wandering the area. I believe there is sufficient room to question jurisdiction, intent, and priority.

    I have to catch a flight, I look forward to hearing your responses.
     
  10. Ryan Van Scotter

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    For clarification: Im referring to a A 333 Exemption that has been granted that authorizes flights under a COA that the PIC must have. A Public COA, law enforcement and search & rescue is significantly different.
     
  11. SanCap

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    You still have not clarified if YOU have a 333 Exemption.
     
  12. ISP5557

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    I have done both, now I file all on ENII,
     
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  13. SanCap

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    Your questions for whom you are asking for are are vague. There are so many different answers for all the different scenarios, you ned to ask a question for each

    I have registered for the ENII system but am not really sure how to fill one out. Could you share one of your completed forms here or by PM.
     
  14. Ryan Van Scotter

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    SanCap,

    I have filed for multiple 333 Exemptions, I have not received an approval yet. The thread is based on the presumption of having an exemption and COA and then coordinating for the letter. I
     
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  15. SanCap

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    Gotcha, why multiple? For different companies?
     
  16. Ryan Van Scotter

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    i filed for a standard blanket COA, and then a second for night operations and reduced visibility requirements. The third is combined with a Motion picture and television manual, this one is about to be submitted.
     
  17. ISP5557

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    Sure, when I get to work tomorrow I will post a couple and put out a Cliffs notes on NOTAM filing.
     
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  18. Dave Armbrust

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    If you go to the FAQ area on faa.gov it answers your question regarding operations within 5 NM of an airport requirements:

    3. What is required for civil UAS operationson or within 5 nautical miles of my airport?
    1. The civil UAS operator must have the following:
      • A Section 333 exemption;
      • A "full COA" issued by the FAA that authorizes the UAS to operate from or near your airport; and
      • An executed letter of agreement with the airport sponsor.
    You can see that you need both a "full COA", not just the blanket COA and a LOA. You are quoting 16 from a old 333 exemption, new exemptions do not that the wording you provided. You have to go by the wording in your exemption which has not been issued yet, but should agree with needing both the "full COA" and the LOA.

    Ryan, a general aviation pilot can show up and fly only if he is willing and able to follow the regulations. As a UA pilot you are not following the regulations as you are not in the aircraft, you are not in radio contact, your aircraft is not certified under Part 23, etc., etc. etc. The airport authority has no jurisdiction over the airspace. This is reserved for the FAA only (Air Traffic Control) which is independent of the airport authority. If it is a towered field then it is Class B, C or D (controlled airspace) from the surface up to about at least 2,500' AGL and at least 5 statute miles from the airport. Surface does include a hover 1 foot off the ground in your backyard. What it does NOT include in inside an confined area such as a home or a gym. Outside, within 5 miles of a towered airport, it is definitely not class G (uncontrolled airspace). ATC (the tower) has absolute control of this airspace and that General Aviation pilot MUST make radio contact prior to entering the airspace either from the ground or from the air.

    Because UAS, including model aircraft, are aircraft, they are subject to FAA regulation... "Aircraft" is defined as "any contrivance invented, use of designed to navigate, or fly in the air." There is no room to question jurisdiction, intent, or priority. Take my advise and accept the LOA as written it. Yes is solely their terms. Perhaps with some history you may be able to get some things changed but be grateful that they are offering to add you to the LOA.

    You are correct that the tower can say NO the day of the flight as manned aircraft will have higher priority. They are not the ones asking the FAA to make exceptions for their flights. The reality is there is little reason for them to say no as you should be able to easily remain below 200' (half of the 400' specified in the COA) and at that altitude you "should" be no threat to other manned aircraft. You will find that they are appreciative that you are following the regulations, COA and LOA.

    You may find this all very restrictive. We are in a trial period and all interactions with UAS, good or bad, will have an influence on future regulations regarding UAS. Thank you, on behalf of all of us, on making yours a positive encounter.
     
    #18 Dave Armbrust, Jun 7, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  19. Ryan Van Scotter

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    Thanks for the comment. You make a good point.

    "...will have an influence on future regulations regarding UAS." Only if we fight for it. An agreement is the understanding between two or more parties. They do not have to agree to any on my recommendations, if I believe their position is too restrictive, I can challenge it. I can file a lawsuit, I can file a complaint with the department of commerce if they are interfering with my ability to conduct commerce. There are many ways to work with them, but taking the position that we are already beat, is only going to hurt us. When part 107 is enacted we are no longer operating under a n exemption and we have a stronger position to have our needs recognized.

    The important aspect is to debate here and get some perspective, again thank you. Personally, id like to rock the boat a little, in a healthy way of course.
     
  20. ISP5557

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    I created a thread over on the Certified UAS pilot tab. Check it out
     
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