Oct. 26, 2015 -- Today the FAA issued a Certificate of Authorization between Menet Aero and Dane County Regional Airport (KMSN). In conjunction with a letter of agreement, Menet Aero is among the first commercial UAS operators authorized to operate within Dane County Regional Airport’s surface-based class C airspace. “This is an important first step in being able to provide services to our clients within 5 miles of Truax Field,” says Peter Menet, founder of Menet Aero. “Since we only employ experienced, professional aviators, operating legally in this type of airspace is routine business. That is why it has been frustrating that we needed to get permission from Washington, D.C. to fly a five-pound drone in airspace where we are used to flying 18,000-pound helicopters with relative ease using many of the same aviation fundamentals.”
This COA and the associated letter of agreement have several limitations by which Menet Aero and KMSN Air Traffic Control must abide, including: 1) the requirement that unmanned systems not interfere with manned aircraft operations, 2) Menet Aero operators must communicate with the airport tower on an aviation radio, and 3) a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) must be filed 24 hours prior to any unmanned operation. “These are all concepts that my team is intimately familiar with, and I don't expect that we will have any issues,” says Menet.
Menet Aero was granted a Section 333 Exemption on July 10, 2015 along with the standard FAA-issued Blanket COA, which excludes airspace within 2 to 5 miles of all airports, depending on their classification. “I’ve said it time and again that getting a Section 333 Exemption is just the beginning,” says Menet. “If your company is considering using drones and you don’t have aviation experts on your team, it is like paying a lawyer to get you a driver's license when you have no driving experience, and then being upset when you get arrested for unknowingly breaking traffic laws.”
Menet Aero is currently working on similar airspace agreements with every towered airport in Wisconsin and the greater Chicago area. In most cases, Menet Aero is the first to take the next step and pursue the COA process with these airports. “We ultimately want to see manned and unmanned aircraft working safely and efficiently side-by-side. This is an important first step,” says Menet.
As of Oct. 26, 3015, 2,020 FAA Section 333 Exemptions have been granted nationally.