Drone Wing – How Google Bypasses the FAA Rules

Let’s talk today about the Google Wing UAV. UAV trials are very controlled in North America, but some people like Google can circumvent specific rules and obligations; legally, of course.

To get an FAA exemption for UAV testing in U. S. commercial airspace, you have to get up early! It involves more trouble than it is worth making this request because there are so many demands and restrictions.

That’s why Google, according to a Guardian report, evaded these FAA rules to test its Wing UAV on private property in the United States for more than a year. Google apparently uses NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), which allows government agencies to test UAVs, but prohibits commercial use in the carding of a joint project between the two organizations working on it. Also, the COA states that any public body operating a drone must be its owner or exclusive operator.

This last point is crucial because it would mean that the Mountain View firm has “sold” its prototype to NASA or that it is being piloted exclusively by NASA pilots. The COA differs from a trade derogation (commonly called “333 exemption”). Typically the one that got Amazon. Although what Google does is legal, the company still filed a request for an “exemption 333”; just in case…

The Guardian also obtained the Space Act’s agreement that “NASA and Google will conduct joint field tests of UAS.” These tests will take place on a remote stretch of private land in Merced, California. The tests could last more than six months and will be used to test the use of cellular signals for air traffic control.