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New Rules For Drone Operators

On 6/21/2016 the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published its first set of rules (Part 107) for operating small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones weighing less than 55 lbs. for commercial use. The new rules will take effect 8/2016. They require all routine commercial small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operators in the U.S. to have a remote pilot certificate with a UAS rating or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. The operator must also be at least 16 years of age. To obtain a remote pilot certificate, one must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or they must have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate which requires a pilot to have completed a flight review in the past 24 months and they must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. All remote pilot applicants will be subject to a security background check by the TSA. Additionally, the drone must be in the operator’s line of sight, drones may not be operated over people or be operated from a moving vehicle, and they must be used in daylight only. Click here to view the full set of rules, 6/21/2016 SUMMARY OF SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT RULE (PART 107).

Part 107 does not apply to model aircrafts. Model aircraft operators may only use their drones for hobby or recreational purposes. The full set of rules for hobbyists can be found in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.

The new rules do not address airworthiness of the drone and they do not currently set forth rules pertaining to privacy but then again this is an evolving set of rules. For now the FAA provides all drone users with recommended privacy guidelines through the FAA’s mobile app B4Ufly. This app is used by drone operator to determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly. The following are the key features of the B4UFLY app:

  • A clear "status" indicator that immediately informs the operator about the current or planned location. For example, it shows flying in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, D.C. is prohibited.

  • Information on the parameters that drive the status indicator

  • A "Planner Mode" for future flights in different locations

  • Informative, interactive maps with filtering options

  • Links to other FAA UAS resources and regulatory information.

The goal of rule 107 is to safely fully integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace for the purpose of promoting job growth and to advance scientific research. Additional rules are expected from the FAA as new challenges arise from the increase use of drones by a variety of industries in the U.S. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx foresees drones in aiding in disaster relief as well as other industries. To name a few, Amazon plans to use drones to deliver packages in the near future, law enforcement is currently using drones for surveillance, and movie makers routinely use drones to capture previously impossible to capture images for their films. The FAA expects that Rule 107 will generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,00 new jobs over the next ten years. The boost is revenue and job growth will surly create encourage new uses for drones and as a result new challenges for the FAA. Because this is an evolving sector, the rules will also evolve so obtaining a license is very important so the FAA can disseminate the new rules to operators. Get your license and stay on top of the rules B4UFLY.


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