I just got some really bad news for all of us from the chief of a local air traffic control tower. He said that FAA has just issued a clarification to all air traffic control towers that prohibits all operations within Class D airspace (i.e. within 5 miles of an airport with an operating control tower) under the Blanket COA that most of us received with our Section 333 exemptions. Apparently we now need to get a specific "Standard COA" for any operation we wish to conduct within 5 miles of a control tower, which could take up to 60 days for FAA to process. This tower chief was sympathetic and supportive, but said his hands were tied: he could not under any circumstances issue a clearance for a commercial UAS operation within his Class D airspace without a Standard COA in hand. Incredulous at this news, I asked a highly respected aviation attorney to speak with him to understand the situation. Here is what he reported back (names are obscured since they aren't particularly relevant): Quote: "Just talked with <tower chief> at <airport>. He reported that <the contractor who operates this tower> was told by FAA that there should be no ops under Blanket COA within Class D airspace and that holders of 333 Exemptions need to seek a standard COA for those ops. So it appears that this is the route you must pursue." <He inserts a personal comment about the politics he thinks is driving this.> "<The tower chief> said he was told that as soon as you file the application for a Standard COA the FAA will notify <the contract tower operator> of the request. That notification runs through the FAA's ATC Service Area and back to the local facility. He thinks the whole process may not take more than a week <but is promised no sooner than 60 days>." Incredibly, this same tower chief said he's approving operations all the time for hobbyists to fly all around the airport, and that he expects that some of these are actually commercial ops in disguise. It's only us 333 exemption holders -- folks who've meticulously played by the rules -- that end up hopelessly mired in paperwork and approvals. As I see it, to conduct a single flight in Class D airspace, we need to: 1.) complete a lengthy COA form full of irrelevant information like climb rate and approach speed (total time to complete: about 30 minutes); 2.) wait anywhere from 7 to 60 days; 3.) file a NOTAM; 4.) coordinate at least 24 hours in advance with the control tower; 5.) call the tower immediately before (and typically immediately after) the flight. Did I miss anything? This dramatically raises the cost of doing business the *right* way, and only encourages cheating. I'm really discouraged by this. I understand the need for caution and incremental steps, but this is just plain preposterous. Has anyone else run into this in the last week? Apparently this is a brand-new edict. Or maybe just the strictest possible interpretation of what is already in the Blanket Exemption.