Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new set of rules for the use of drones in the United States for “non-hobby and non-recreational purposes,” i.e. commercial production and journalism. The rules introduce a certification process for drone pilots, address drone operation when people are present, and spell out when drone operators must clear their flights with local air traffic control, among many other provisions.

The rules will go into effect in early August.

The FAA released a summary of Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, for those who don’t want to read the full, 624-page document. Some of the highlights include:

  • A person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).
  • To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:
    • Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either:
      • Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or
      • Hold a part 61 pilot certificate other than student pilot, complete a flight review within the previous 24 months, and complete a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA.
    • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
    • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer.
  • Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.

Matt Waite, the founder of the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska has a good breakdown of the different airspace rules in his explainer for NiemanLab, here.

Related: Own a Drone? You’ll Have to Register It with the FAA
FAA’s Proposed Drone Rules Won’t Bar Photography


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