You have just procured a drone by investing a hefty amount of money and now you are wondering what to do about this intricate machine? The bad news is that the internet is proliferated with tens of thousands of posts discussing drone regulations and every post has a new perspective to add. The good news, however, is that this post endeavors to put everything regarding drone laws in simple words for the novices to understand.
Before we get going, you need to determine whether you want to use your drone for professional purposes or for cinematography, or just to pass your leisure time.
Drone Regulations: Hobbyist or to pass your leisure time
If you intend to use your drone to pass your leisure time then you only need to take hold of a couple of things. You need to ascertain whether your drone weighs above .55lbs and if it weighs less, then you do not need to get registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You simply need to follow the drone regulations described below and all will be well and good.
If your drone, on the other hand, weighs above 0.55lbs, then you need to get it registered. The registration fee is $5 and it remains valid for three years. Ensure that you tag your drone with its registration number. The website has sections titled “Fly sUAS under Part 107” and “Fly Model Aircraft under Section 336”. The Model Aircraft option is there for the hobbyist pilots.
At this point in time, it is not clear whether one should register or not as a lot of people are saying a lot of different things. We believe that it is better to play safe than take any undue risk. So, the saner option will be to get your drone registered.
Once you get your aircraft registered, there are a few rules that you need to abide by and can also be found on the FAA website:
- Fly your drone for recreational purposes only
- Always keep your aircraft within line of sight during flight
- Strictly adhere to community-based safety guidelines and fly within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization
- Never fly a drone weighing more than 0.55lbs unless certified by a community-based organization
- Do not fly near other aircrafts
- Whenever you intend to fly your drone within 5 miles radius of an airport, always inform the airport and air traffic control authorities.
- Do not fly in the vicinity of an area where emergency response efforts are underway
Flying a drone for recreational purposes only means that you cannot sell your videos or get paid to capture video footage with your aircraft. Also, remember that you ought to keep the drone in your line of sight. A special certification is required if you want to fly your drone a long distance. Furthermore, drone regulations must be followed.
Now, let us move onto the rules that have been formulated for commercial pilots.
Professional or advanced flying
If you are endeavoring to fly your drone for professional purposes or get paid for flying your drone, then the rules become a bit more complicated. A commercial pilot needs to get the drone registered as a Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) under Pilot 107 certification.
A pilot’s license is also a prerequisite. It is essentially called Remote Pilot Certification and it makes you eligible to fly your drone for commercial purposes. A pilot should be 16 years of age or above and qualify for a test taken at an FAA-approved center along with a TSA screening. The certification is valid for a couple of years after which it can be revalidated with another test.
Once you have acquired the license and certification, here are the rules you need to strictly adhere to:
- Unmanned aircraft should weigh less than 55 pounds including payload at the time of takeoff
- The drone has to be flown in Class G airspace*
- Keep your drone within line of sight*
- Do not take your drone above an altitude of 400 feet*
- No night time flights are allowed*
- Do not fly past the speed threshold of 100mph*
- Stay clear of manned aircraft*
- No flights are allowed above crowds*
- Do not take off your drone from a moving vehicle unless in a thinly populated area*
* A waiver can be applied to solicit exemption from these conditions. For instance, it could be a hassle to keep the drone in your line of sight if the place that you want to cover is located at a far off distance. You need to submit an application to FAA which will then decide whether you deserve to get the permission or not.
This is it for the drone rules and regulations. Now, get your drone whizzing through the skies. If you are yet to buy your drone, check this website for tips for buying a drone.