PDF Version

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 36 (Friday, February 22, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12259-12260]



Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 91

[Docket No.: FAA-2013-0061]

Unmanned Aircraft System Test Site Program

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments


SUMMARY: On February 14, 2012, Congress mandated that the FAA, 
coordinating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and 
the Department of Defense, develop a test site program for the 
integration of unmanned aircraft systems in to the National Airspace 
System. The overall purpose of this test site program is to develop a 
body of data and operational experiences to inform integration and the 
safe operation of these aircraft in the National Airspace System. This 
proposed rule announces the process by which the FAA will select the 
test sites for the program and also solicits comments on the FAA's 
proposed approach for addressing the privacy questions raised by the 
public and Congress with regard to the operation of unmanned aircraft 
systems within the test site program.

DATES: The FAA values the input of the public and requests comment 
regarding the privacy approach discussed in this Notice. Please send 
your comments on or before April 23, 2013.
    Once the public has had a chance to review the proposed privacy 
policy requirements to be levied on the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test 
Site operators, but prior to the close of the comment period, the FAA 
will participate in a webinar to solicit comments from the public and 
interested stakeholders regarding the proposed privacy approach for the 
unmanned aircraft systems test site program. The FAA will publish a 
notice providing details (including the date and time) for the 
engagement session sufficiently in advance of the meeting to facilitate 
broad participation.

ADDRESSES: You may send comments identified by Docket No: FAA-2013-0061 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room 
W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at (202) 493-2251.
    Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without 
change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the 
docket web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all 
comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the 
individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an 
association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 
2000 (65 FR 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at 
http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or go to the Docket Operations in Room W12-140 
of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning the 
test site program, contact Elizabeth Soltys, Unmanned Aircraft Systems 
Integration Office, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; email: [email protected]
    For questions concerning the FAA's proposed approach for addressing 
potential UAS privacy concerns, as set out herein, contact Gregory C. 
Carter, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, 
800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591; email: 
[email protected]


    On February 14, 2012, the President signed the FAA Modernization 
and Reform Act, Public Law 112-95 (FMRA) into law. The statute contains 
a number of provisions pertaining to integration of unmanned aircraft 
systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). To assist the 
agency in integrating UAS, section 332(c) of FMRA directs the FAA, in 
coordination with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
(NASA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), to develop a UAS test site 
program for purposes of gathering safety and technical information 
relevant to the safe and efficient integration of UAS into the NAS. 
Under the test site program, the FAA will select six test ranges, 
taking into consideration factors such as geographic and climatic 
diversity, as well as the location of necessary ground infrastructure 
to support the sites, and research needs.
    The FAA has developed the UAS test site program with the input of 
the public. The FAA began an outreach effort to gather input on the 
criteria and processes the FAA should use to select the test sites. In 
March 2012, the FAA posted a Request for Comments (RFC) in the Federal 
Register [Docket No. FAA-2012-0252] and in April 2012, the FAA hosted 
two public webinars to interact directly with the public. This outreach 
effort informed the agency in developing its plan for designating the 
    Based on the feedback received through this outreach effort, the 
FAA is using its Acquisition Management System (AMS) to solicit 
applications from entities interested in operating a

[[Page 12260]]

UAS test site. This system is the common process the FAA uses to obtain 
information, evaluate interested parties, and select successful 
providers for procurement matters. Although no federal funds will be 
distributed to the selected test site operators for the operation of 
these test sites (and selection of sites is not a procurement action), 
the FAA has determined that using this well-established system and 
process will ensure fair consideration of all applications and rigorous 
oversight of the selection process.
    For individuals interested in submitting an application to operate 
a UAS test site, the FAA has published a Screening Information Request 
(SIR), which is also known as a Request for Proposals, or RFP, in other 
federal agencies. The SIR (and amendments, if any) is available on the 
FAA Contracting Opportunities Web site (http://faaco.faa.gov). 
Additional information about this SIR process and criteria for 
selecting the six test sites is contained within the SIR document 
itself. In order to be considered for selection, completed responses 
must be submitted via the FAA Contracting Opportunities Web site by the 
dates set out in the SIR.
    Once the FAA has conducted and completed its consideration of the 
submissions, and the Administrator has issued an Order designating each 
successful applicant as a test site operator, each operator will be 
required to enter into an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with the 
FAA. Each OTA will set out the legally binding terms and conditions 
under which the entity will operate the UAS Test Site. The draft OTA is 
available for review via the FAA Contracting Opportunities Web site 
listed above. Before OTA parameters and reporting requirements are 
finalized, FAA will consider comments submitted as a result of this 
Federal Register Notice.
    While the expanded use of UAS presents great opportunities, it also 
presents significant challenges as UAS are inherently different from 
manned aircraft. The UAS test site program will help the FAA gain a 
better understanding of operational issues, such as training 
requirements, operational specifications, and technology 
considerations, which are primary areas of concern with regard to our 
chief mission, which is ensuring the safety and efficiency of the 
entire aviation system. The FAA also acknowledges that the integration 
of UAS in domestic airspace raises privacy issues, which the FAA 
intends to address through engagement and collaboration with the 
public. To address privacy concerns relating to the operation of the 
test site program, the FAA intends to include in each final OTA privacy 
requirements applicable to all operations at a test site. This notice 
is specifically requesting comments on those potential privacy 
considerations, associated reporting requirements, and how the FAA can 
help ensure privacy considerations are addressed through mechanisms put 
in place as a result of the OTAs.
    The proposed privacy requirements set forth in Article three of the 
DRAFT OTA are as follows:
    (1) The Site Operator must ensure that there are privacy policies 
governing all activities conducted under the OTA, including the 
operation and relevant activities of the UASs authorized by the Site 
Operator. Such privacy policies must be available publically, and the 
Site Operator must have a mechanism to receive and consider comments on 
its privacy policies. In addition, these policies should be informed by 
Fair Information Practice Principles. The privacy policies should be 
updated as necessary to remain operationally current and effective. The 
Site Operator must ensure the requirements of this paragraph are 
applied to all operations conducted under the OTA.
    (2) The Site Operator and its team members are required to operate 
in accordance with Federal, state, and other laws regarding the 
protection of an individual's right to privacy. Should criminal or 
civil charges be filed by the U.S. Department of Justice or a state's 
law enforcement authority over a potential violation of such laws, the 
FAA may take appropriate action, including suspending or modifying the 
relevant operational authority (e.g., Certificate of Operation, or 
OTA), until the proceedings are completed. If the proceedings 
demonstrate the operation was in violation of the law, the FAA may 
terminate the relevant operational authority.
    (3) If over the lifetime of this Agreement, any legislation or 
regulation, which may have an impact on UAS or to the privacy interests 
of entities affected by any operation of any UAS operating at the Test 
Site, is enacted or otherwise effectuated, such legislation or 
regulation will be applicable to the OTA and the FAA may update or 
amend the OTA to reflect these changes.
    (4) Transmission of data from the Site Operator to the FAA or its 
designee must only include those data listed in Appendix B to the OTA. 
(Appendix B to the OTA is available as part of the SIR at http://faaco.faa.gov.)
    The FAA anticipates that test site operator privacy practices as 
discussed in their privacy policies will help inform the dialogue among 
policymakers, privacy advocates, and the industry regarding broader 
questions concerning the use of UAS technologies. The privacy 
requirements proposed here are specifically designed for the operation 
of the UAS Test Sites. They are not intended to pre-determine the long-
term policy and regulatory framework under which commercial UASs would 
operate. Rather, they aim to assure maximum transparency of privacy 
policies associated with UAS test site operations in order to engage 
all stakeholders in discussion about which privacy issues are raised by 
UAS operations and how law, public policy, and the industry practices 
should respond to those issues in the long run.

    Issued in Washington, DC on February 14, 2013.
Kathryn B. Thomson,
Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration.
[FR Doc. 2013-03897 Filed 2-21-13; 8:45 am]