In a recent meeting with representatives of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Program Office, it was learned that publication of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rule has again been delayed by several months. Going into the 2011/2012 holiday season we believed that the proposed rule would be released sometime in January or February. However, citing “unanticipated issues requiring further analysis,” the rule failed to clear the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) before year’s end.
Current projections show the rule clearing OST by the end of January. It will then be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where OMB will evaluate the regulation for potential adverse impact on small businesses and small government entities. OMB’s review could take as much as ninety days which would put publication of the NPRM in May 2012. Nevertheless, there is some optimism that OMB’s review will not take the full ninety days and the current best guess on the release date for the NPRM places it in ‘Spring 2012.’