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Mavic Air 2 FAA Classification?

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So with the new FAA regulations, can anyone tell me how to determine what classification the Mavic Air 2 is? Noob pilot and trying to get as much info as I can to ensure both safe and legal flying.

Category 1: A Category 1 drone represents “a low risk of injury” to humans and therefore weighs 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) or less including everything attached to the drone from takeoff to landing. Furthermore, a Category 1 drone cannot have “any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin,” and whatever kind of protection that implies must not fall outside the weight limit. If your drone meets both of these criteria, there’s no need to do anything else about it.
Category 2: A Category 2 drone is the next step up, and since we’re now out of the “low risk of injury” category, the FAA will require a declaration of compliance from “anyone who designs, produces, or modifies a small unmanned aircraft” in this category. For Category 2, this declaration has to show that the drone “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 11 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object,” and the declaration must be approved by the FAA. Category 2 drones must also incorporate the same kind of laceration protection as Category 1, although one of the more interesting comments on the ruling came from Skydio, which asked whether a software-based safety system that could protect against skin laceration would be acceptable. The FAA said that’s fine, as long as it can be demonstrated to be effective through some as-yet unspecified process.
Category 3: A Category 3 drone is just the same at Category 2, except bigger and/or faster, and it “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 25 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object.” Laceration protection also required.
Category 4: If you think your drone is safe to operate over people but it doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, you can apply to the FAA for an airworthiness certificate, which (if approved) will let you fly over people with your drone (sometimes) without applying for a waiver.

Thanks!
 

brett8883

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So with the new FAA regulations, can anyone tell me how to determine what classification the Mavic Air 2 is? Noob pilot and trying to get as much info as I can to ensure both safe and legal flying.

Category 1: A Category 1 drone represents “a low risk of injury” to humans and therefore weighs 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) or less including everything attached to the drone from takeoff to landing. Furthermore, a Category 1 drone cannot have “any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin,” and whatever kind of protection that implies must not fall outside the weight limit. If your drone meets both of these criteria, there’s no need to do anything else about it.
Category 2: A Category 2 drone is the next step up, and since we’re now out of the “low risk of injury” category, the FAA will require a declaration of compliance from “anyone who designs, produces, or modifies a small unmanned aircraft” in this category. For Category 2, this declaration has to show that the drone “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 11 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object,” and the declaration must be approved by the FAA. Category 2 drones must also incorporate the same kind of laceration protection as Category 1, although one of the more interesting comments on the ruling came from Skydio, which asked whether a software-based safety system that could protect against skin laceration would be acceptable. The FAA said that’s fine, as long as it can be demonstrated to be effective through some as-yet unspecified process.
Category 3: A Category 3 drone is just the same at Category 2, except bigger and/or faster, and it “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 25 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object.” Laceration protection also required.
Category 4: If you think your drone is safe to operate over people but it doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, you can apply to the FAA for an airworthiness certificate, which (if approved) will let you fly over people with your drone (sometimes) without applying for a waiver.

Thanks!
First of all This is for certified part 107 pilots only so if you are a recreational pilot none of this applies to you.

The Mavic Air 2 is a consumer grade drone and since this rule only applies to Part 107 pilots its unlikely the Mavic Air 2 will ever be a viable candidate for flying over people due to its low cost and inevitable replacement with a newer model by the time all the details are worked out

1. The Mavic Air 2 doesn’t qualify for category 1 so we are looking at categories 2-4.

Categories 2-4 depends on the aircraft weight and height flown which would tell us about the kinetic energy.

2. The Mavic Air 2 weighs 1.257 lbs without prop guards and if we assume the stock prop guards from DJI will be acceptable for the FAAs requirement (which I am not at all sure of) the weight with prop guards would be 1.457 lbs.

3. If we assume the absolute minimum height flown above the ground to ensure we don’t accidentally run into people and also don’t scare them is 30 feet (which is still really low) the kinetic energy of the Mavic Air 2 with prop guards would be 37.52 foot pounds, way over the limit for Category 2 or 3. Kinetic Energy Calculator

4. An airworthiness certificate for category 4 is not realistically achievable. This is the same kind of standard for manned aircraft which the Mavic Air 2 will never achieve.

5. So we are left with the need for a parachute system for the Mavic Air 2 to comply with category 2 or 3, which will depend on how low the parachute slows down the aircraft to at and at what height. It’s possible the parachute takes time to deploy and slow down the aircraft so you could only fly over people at some minimum height.

6. Category 2 and 3 require a Declaration of Compliance to be accepted by the FAA. While us average Joes can technically submit Declarations of Compliance, this is really meant to be done by the manufacturer. In theory I believe it would be possible for a parachute company to get a Declaration of Compliance for all Mavic Air 2s that have their parachute installed but would likely need to be sent to the company for installation which would cost more than the aircraft itself. It isn’t clear yet if this is even possible.

7. It’s more likely that a future aircraft model from DJI will have the parachute system built into the drone and DJI can get the declaration of compliance which would enable the aircraft to fly over people out of the box.

Due to the above, the economics and regulatory hurdles make it unlikely that the Mavic Air 2 will be a viable candidate for flying over people in my opinion with the information we have at this moment.
 
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Dude, thanks for that awesome response.

Yeah I saw that it's for Part 107 pilots.... which is on my list of things to get. Trying to ensure I comply with regulations and also wanting to share my experience on YouTube has me leaning towards needing to have Part 107. I'm not monetized by a LONG shot... but wording on the FAA's site says that recreational exception has to be "for entertainment" only.... additionally, if I wanted to give the footage to local organizations (even local parks for their websites), it seems to be a requirement.

I'm by no means about to kick off a commercial droning business and this is my 1st drone (outside those $40 and under kids toys at Target) so the Mavic Air 2 is what I found to be a good compromise between cost and performance.

Do you have any examples of drones that would fit Cat 1-4? Just a curiosity thing now that you've gone through the detailed info above.

Thanks again!
 
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BigAl07

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Dude, thanks for that awesome response.

Yeah I saw that it's for Part 107 pilots.... which is on my list of things to get. Trying to ensure I comply with regulations and also wanting to share my experience on YouTube has me leaning towards needing to have Part 107. I'm not monetized by a LONG shot... but wording on the FAA's site says that recreational exception has to be "for entertainment" only.... additionally, if I wanted to give the footage to local organizations (even local parks for their websites), it seems to be a requirement.

I'm by no means about to kick off a commercial droning business and this is my 1st drone (outside those $40 and under kids toys at Target) so the Mavic Air 2 is what I found to be a good compromise between cost and performance.

Do you have any examples of drones that would fit Cat 1-4? Just a curiosity thing now that you've gone through the detailed info above.

Thanks again!


@brett8883 gave an excellent write-up.

With that being said, there are no current examples of aircraft yet because companies can't even submit an application for a Declaration of Compliance until 9-12 months AFTER 4/21/2021. Anything else would be a wild guess at this point. You won't see anything for Cat 2 or 3 until early 2022 at best.
 

brett8883

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Do you have any examples of drones that would fit Cat 1-4? Just a curiosity thing now that you've gone through the detailed info above.

Thanks again!
Category 1
FCAA81D4-817A-4203-8263-B6E066ADA3C2.jpeg DJI Tello. 80g props cannot lacerate skin but has prop guards anyway. No declaration of compliance required to fly over people.


Category 4- General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Drone. Minus the weapons of course ;). Category 4 is just thrown in there because if you have an airworthiness certificate then its not clear to me if you even have to fly under the limitations of Part 107 or if you can just fly under normal manned aircraft rules.
7682A6F3-4C4E-4184-B781-F2F9C07D46BA.jpeg

Categories 2 will require a parachute of some kind because even at the minimum .56 lbs an aircraft would produce more than 11 foot lbs dropping from 30 ft. Category 2 is weird because even a Tello produces more than 11 foot lbs being dropped from 62 feet but can go up to 400 ft under the more permissive Category 1? Also since a category 2 aircraft would need a parachute there would be a minimum operational height to comply.

Category 3 opens up some existing aircraft to possibly have a Declaration of Compliance accepted without a parachute such as the Mavic Mini with prop guards. But in contrast to category 2 it would have a maximum operational height rather than a minimum operational height making category 2 even more strange because you’d think a drone operating higher would have more potential to cause damage if the parachute doesn’t deploy yet is more permissive.

As @BigAl07 said they aren’t issuing Declarations of Compliance yet so Cat. 2 and 3 are just guesses.
 
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Thanks guys. I figured companies would be hot on this to say "this is what we're trying to get approved", at least in their "FAA IS MEAN" responses. =)

Additionally... who wants to go in on a Predator or Reaper?
 

jw83876

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I’m thinking COVID Stimulus money. There HAS to be a program out there. Come on, man!
 

Dronestar

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So with the new FAA regulations, can anyone tell me how to determine what classification the Mavic Air 2 is? Noob pilot and trying to get as much info as I can to ensure both safe and legal flying.

Category 1: A Category 1 drone represents “a low risk of injury” to humans and therefore weighs 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) or less including everything attached to the drone from takeoff to landing. Furthermore, a Category 1 drone cannot have “any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin,” and whatever kind of protection that implies must not fall outside the weight limit. If your drone meets both of these criteria, there’s no need to do anything else about it.
Category 2: A Category 2 drone is the next step up, and since we’re now out of the “low risk of injury” category, the FAA will require a declaration of compliance from “anyone who designs, produces, or modifies a small unmanned aircraft” in this category. For Category 2, this declaration has to show that the drone “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 11 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object,” and the declaration must be approved by the FAA. Category 2 drones must also incorporate the same kind of laceration protection as Category 1, although one of the more interesting comments on the ruling came from Skydio, which asked whether a software-based safety system that could protect against skin laceration would be acceptable. The FAA said that’s fine, as long as it can be demonstrated to be effective through some as-yet unspecified process.
Category 3: A Category 3 drone is just the same at Category 2, except bigger and/or faster, and it “must not be capable of causing an injury to a human being that is more severe than an injury caused by a transfer of 25 ft-lbs of kinetic energy from a rigid object.” Laceration protection also required.
Category 4: If you think your drone is safe to operate over people but it doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, you can apply to the FAA for an airworthiness certificate, which (if approved) will let you fly over people with your drone (sometimes) without applying for a waiver.

Thanks!
Eager to see how this unfolds. I'm thinking the FAA will loosen the criteria for these categories before too long, but you never know.
 
Lycus Tech Mavic Air 2 Case

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