drone regulations - prophotouav

DRONE FAA RULES AND REGULATIONS | PRACTICE SAFE FLIGHT. IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

know before you fly

USA UAS Guidelines below provided by Know Before You Fly

Currently, small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) may be operated for hobby and recreational purposes under specific safety guidelines as established by Congress. Small UAS flown for recreational purposes are typically known as model aircraft.

Under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, recreational UAS must be operated in accordance with several requirements, including a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Operators not operating within the safety program of a community-based organization should follow the FAA’s guidance here.

As of Dec. 21, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration requires all owners of small unmanned aircraft, or drones, weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register online before taking to the skies.

What is recreational use of sUAS?

The recreational use of sUAS is the operation of an unmanned aircraft for personal interests and enjoyment. For example, using a sUAS to take photographs for your own personal use would be considered recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a commercial operation. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes commercial or other non-hobby, non-recreational sUAS operations.

What are the safety guidelines for sUAS recreational users?

  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport. (Read about best practices here)
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.

Interested in e-learning more?

Check out What to know before you fly, an educational course from the AMA that teaches the basics of SUAS, their operation and the airspace.

For more safety information, please download the Know Before You Fly brochure here.

If you want to fly your UAS for commercial use, you must follow the FAA’s set of operational rules (known as “Part 107”). These rules went into effect on August 29, 2016.

What is a commercial use of UAS?

Any commercial use in connection with a business, including:

  • Selling photos or videos taken from a UAS
  • Using UAS to provide contract services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
  • Using UAS to provide professional services, such as security or telecommunications
  • Using UAS to monitor the progress of work your company is performing

What are some examples of commercial uses of UAS?

  • Professional real estate or wedding photography
  • Professional cinema photography for a film or television production
  • Providing contract services for mapping or land surveys

What requirements do I need to meet to fly commercially?

Remote Pilot requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of someone holding a remote pilot airman certificate
  • Must pass the applicable Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting

UAS requirements:

  • Must weigh less than 55 lbs.*
  • Must undergo pre-flight check by remote pilot in command (a.k.a. you or the person supervising the operation)

Location requirements (click here for more details on these airspace classes):

  • Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required Air Traffic Controller (ATC) permission
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission

If I meet all the requirements to fly commercially, what arethe operating rules?

(For a more detailed summary, click here.)

  • Must fly under 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if flying at an altitude higher than 400 feet AGL, stay within 400 feet of a structure
  • Must keep the UAS in sight (i.e. visual line of sight), either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer*
  • Must fly during daylight hours* or civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must not fly over people*
  • Must not fly from a moving vehicle unless you are in a sparsely populated area*

*If you want to operate UAS for commercial purposes outside of these rules, you may apply for a certificate of waiver. The FAA will grant waivers if operation can be performed safely but may otherwise not be allowed under Part 107.

What else do I need to know?

Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.

Also, please read the voluntary guidelines for “neighborly” drone use, which serve to provide guidance to UAS operators on ways to balance their rights as drone users and other people’s rights to privacy.

If you want to operate a UAS for a government entity – such as a publicly funded university, law enforcement agency, fire department, or any other federal or state government agency – you have two options:

1. Follow the same requirements and operating rules for business users. That is, the FAA’s small UAS rule (known as “Part 107”).

OR:

2. If you want to operate UAS for a government entity outside of these rules, you may apply for a blanket public Certificate of Authorization (COA) which allows flights at or below 400 feet in Class G airspace nationwide, self-certification of the UAS pilot and the ability to obtain emergency COAs under special circumstances. To learn more, contact 9-AJV-115-UASCOA@faa.gov.

 

Who can obtain a COA to operate public aircraft?

  • Only government entities – such as federal and state government agencies, law enforcement agencies and public colleges and universities – can receive a COA for public UAS aircraft operations.
  • Public aircraft operations must be conducted for a governmental function.
  • COAs are most commonly issued to public (government) entities, but are also required for civil (private) operations.
  • The FAA thoroughly evaluates each COA application to determine the safety of the proposal.
  • COAs are issued for a specific period of time, usually two years, and include special provisions unique to each proposal, such as a defined block of airspace and time of day sUAS can be used.

How can I apply for a COA?

  • Visit the FAA website for more information on how to apply for a COA online.
  • A sample application can be viewed here.
  • Since 2009, the FAA has taken steps to streamline the application process by transitioning online.
  • The average COA processing time is less than 60 days.
  • Expedited authorization is available in emergency and life-threatening situations.

What else do I need to know?

Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.

Also, please read the voluntary guidelines for “neighborly” drone use, which serve to provide guidance to UAS operators on ways to balance their rights as drone users and other people’s rights to privacy.

As of May 5, 2016, according to a new legal interpretation from the FAA, the use of unmanned aircraft systems by students in accredited education institutions as part of their coursework will be allowed under recreational guidelines for model aircraft, provided the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization. The interpretation also clarifies that UAS can be operated for demonstration purposes at community-sponsored events, provided that the aircraft operator does not receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, related to the operation of the aircraft.

Students can learn how to design, construct and operate small unmanned aircraft (less than 55 pounds) as a component of a variety of science, technology and aviation-related coursework or for other educational purposes such as in connection with television, film or photography courses. These uses fall under hobby or recreational use, according to the FAA’s interpretation, and schools and students should follow all the same protocols as a hobbyist.

This applies only to accredited educational institutions and does not apply to research efforts, which would too closely link operation of the UAS to faculty members’ professional duties and compensation. Likewise, a course instructor can only provide minimal assistance to a student flying a UAS when the primary purpose of the course is not operating the UAS — rather, is focused on design and construction, etc.

For schools interested in operating a UAS for purposes other than recreational use (i.e. for research), please review our guidelines forbusiness and public operators.

Click here to read the FAA’s full interpretation for educational and community use of UAS.

Below is a list of voluntary guidelines for “neighborly” drone use, which serve to provide guidance to UAS operators on ways to balance their rights as drone users and other people’s rights to privacy. These guidelines are the result of a multi-stakeholder engagement process established by President Obama. The objective of the process was to develop and communicate best practices, accountability, and transparency issues regarding commercial and private UAS use in the National Airspace System (NAS).

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) initiated the process, which included stakeholders from industry, civil society, academia, and other interested U.S. government agencies. The multi-stakeholder group released its recommended voluntary best practices in May 18, 2016. For more details on the best practices, please visit here.

Guidelines for Neighborly Drone Use:

  • If you can, tell other people you’ll be taking pictures or video of them before you do so.
  • If you think someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy, don’t violate that privacy by taking pictures, video, or otherwise gathering sensitive data, unless you’ve got a very good reason.
  • Don’t fly over other people’s private property without permission if you can easily avoid doing so.
  • Don’t gather personal data for no reason, and don’t keep it for longer than you think you have to.
  • If you keep sensitive data about other people, secure it against loss or theft.
  • If someone asks you to delete personal data about him or her that you’ve gathered, do so, unless you’ve got a good reason not to.
  • If anyone raises privacy, security, or safety concerns with you, try and listen to what they have to say, as long as they’re polite and reasonable about it.
  • Don’t harass people with your drone.

Important Note: the best practices do not apply to news-gatherers and news reporting organizations, which are protected by U.S. law and the First Amendment to the Constitution. These organizations should operate under the ethics rules and standards of their organization, and according to existing federal and state laws.