Today, the drone technology that is available can allow you to do a lot of interesting things for a hobby, business, or enthusiast. The legality of flying drones has also changed. You need to know how to fly your drone and the regulations that affect your flying. You need to know the FAA rules for remote pilots and how they affect commercial and recreational drones.
The following drone flying guide will help you get started flying and enjoying your hobby or integrating technology into your service business:
Night Flying: Can I Legally Fly a Drone at Night?
If you want to know if you can fly a drone at night, the answer can be complicated. If you are a hobbyist, the answer is usually no. But, if you need to fly a drone at night for a business or service—there are some rules and regulations that you should be familiar with. When can you fly a drone at night? To fly a drone at night, you should meet the following requirements and exceptions:
- Search and rescue operations with waivers and certifications
- Commercial operations that meet requirements and submitted a waiver form
- Recreational purposes with a submitted and approved waiver form
These acceptations and requirements have to be met to legally fly a drone after sunset. If you do not meet these requirements, it is better to stay safe and stick to daytime flying. If you are flying at night for a recreation purpose, your waiver form will need to be submitted and approved before flying, and it may not be approved if you do not have a good reason to fly at night.
This is one of the most common waiver applications that is sent into the FAA for review, which is why it is also in the proposed changes to the current remote pilot rules. The new rules are meant to relax some of these rules and leave the decisions up to the pilot and drone manufacturers when it comes to certain flight conditions like flying a drone at night.
The Rules For Recreational Drone Pilots
There have been drone accidents due to untrained pilots and irresponsible flying. So, rules have been established for recreational drone pilots to reduce accidents and protect people from injury. The recreational drone pilot rules that you should be familiar with include:
- Only fly drones in safe air space without obstacles or crowds. If you do plan on flying drones in crowded areas or in areas where there are hazards, you will need to fill out a waiver form to get permission for these activities.
- Fly drones during daylight hours and land aircraft before sunset. These hours generally mean half an hour before sunrise and half an hour before sunset. If you are flying outside of these hours, you will need to fill out a waiver form.
- Operators(pilots) should always have a clear line of sight of the drone they are flying. Camera operation is generally not allowed, but you can use a spotter to help fly your drone more safely, though this is not an official recommendation from the FAA.
- Yield the right of way to commercial and government aircraft in US airspace. As a general rule, stay away from military airspace and ask for special permission if flying in restricted air spaces.
- Be aware of airspace where piloting drones and special requirements for different airspace.
These rules have been established by jurisdictions and may vary from one area to another, but they are basic rules that you should follow if you are a hobbyist pilot learning to fly a drone. To get a remote pilot certification, you are going to need to familiarize yourself with all of the rules and take a knowledge test to get your certification.
The FAA has all the information you need to study for the current knowledge test and prepare to get your remote pilot certification. Make sure you understand all the drone-flying rules and proposed changes to part 107 before attempting to take the test. The certification is a knowledge-based test that covers all the information that a remote pilot needs to know before flying a drone as a commercial pilot or for recreational purposes.
The Rules For Commercial Drone Pilots
The rules for a commercial pilot are different than those for recreational pilots. If you are starting a business that uses drones, or adding drone services to your business, you have to follow specific FAA rules and regulations. Regulations that affect businesses and commercial drone pilots include:
- Part 107 Applies to commercial drones under 55 pounds—Any commercial craft the weight more than 55 pounds need to meet different requirements and are not covered by Part 107 FAA rules.
- Commercial pilots should pass the FAA certification test—If you are going to be a commercial pilot and using the drone for business, you need to pass a certification test. All the information and application forms can be found on the FAA website in the Part 107 section.
- Loads need to be securely attached and not affect flight—If you are carrying loads with your drone, they need to be securely attached and not affect the flight of the drone.
- Waivers are required for specific flight situations—There are some situations when you are going to need a waiver for flying a drone. Make sure that you obtain and send waivers before flying your drone in unique circumstances that break the rules, such as operation from a moving vehicle.
- Commercial aircraft need to have a tracking number—All drones that are flown for recreation or business need to be registered and have an FAA tracking numbers to identify the aircraft. Register your drone at the FAA website under the Part 107 information page.
- Commercial drones and pilots should register with the FAA—If you are flying your drone for commercial purposes, make sure to register with the FAA. The pilot (person operating the drone) and the aircraft (the drone being flown) need to be registered before flying.
These are regulations that affect businesses and commercial drone pilots. If you are interested in flying a drone for your business, these are the rules that apply to you as a pilot. Commercial pilots may be required to take a part 108 knowledge test to renew their remote pilot certificate too. This is a recurrent knowledge test that covers the basic knowledge that any pilot should have when flying a drone.
When flying drones for commercial purposes, it is important to take the knowledge-based test to become a remote drone pilot. This is a test that is administered by the FAA to grant remote pilot certifications to pilots. The certification will ensure that you understand the rules of flying a drone and allow you to use drone technology for your business. If you are flying for your business, it is important to follow all the rules established in part 107 to avoid costly fines and losing the remote pilot certification for your business. There is also a recurrent information test that commercial remote pilots may be required to take to renew their certification and stay up to date with current rules for flying drones.
What Is Part 107?
Understanding part 107 can be complicated because it governs different aspects of flying drones and technology. Part 107 is the law and rules that were established by the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) for drone pilots, and it includes all the information you need to know to ensure you are piloting your drone legally. The basic set of rules you should know before flying include:
- The rules only cover drones that are under the 55-pound weight limit.
- Basic knowledge needed to fly a drone and become a certified remote pilot
- Pilots must always have drone aircraft in visual sight
- Aircraft being controlled remotely cannot exceed 100 mph
- The altitude limit for unmanned aircraft is 400 feet above ground, structures or other obstacles
- Aircraft cannot be piloted from moving vehicles, crafts, or other modes of transportation
These rules were established by the FAA with part 107 for drone pilots. If you want to be a certified drone pilot, you should familiarize yourself with part 107 and the proposed changes that may affect drone flying in the future. Part 107 rules cover the remote pilot basics and information that you will need to take the knowledge-based certification test to become a certified remote pilot.
What Is The Waiver System?
You may also be interested in the waiver system, which you will need to familiarize yourself with if you want to avoid getting fine for unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft. These waivers are needed for situations like flying at night, from a moving craft, in restricted airspace, or from a moving vehicle or aircraft. You can get the waiver forms from the FAA website. Fill out and submit your waiver form to be approved before flying your drone in special circumstances. Some of the different waivers you may need to apply for when flying your drone include:
- Nighttime flying
- Flight over crowds and people
- Flying in restricted airspace
- Flying over vehicles and other modes of transportation
Applying for a waiver is a simple process—you just have to go to the FAA website, and under part 107, you will find everything you need. Fill out your waiver form and submit it to the FAA before flying your drone in special situations. If you are not sure about certain flight situations, it is always better to contact the FAA and ask if you need to fill out a waiver form before flying.
Keep track of the changes to part 107 rules to know when you need a waiver to fly a drone. Part of the changes to these rules is waivers for more flying situations and special permissions to fly a drone at night. The new waivers for permissions will be in the same place where you find the current waiver applications on the FAA website.
Proposed Changes to Part 107 in 2019
In 2019, there were proposed changes to Part 107, which can affect future rules for pilots. These changes affect both recreational and commercial remote pilots, but also allow more freedom for flying drones. The proposed changes to these rules include:
- Relaxed rules governing the flight of drones for commercial purposes
- Changes to night flying rules
- New drone manufacturing classes and flying over people
- Specific night flying rules and special test for commercial pilots
- Additional waiver applications for flying in different situations
These are the proposed changes to Part 107 that could affect you if you are a beginning pilot and will be flying in the future. Tough these are new proposed rules, it is a good idea to familiarize and be prepared to take knowledge tests for special certifications and waivers to meet any new requirements that are past and become part of Part 107. The new rule changes are designed to relax certain requirements and make drone flights safer for both recreational and commercial remote pilots.
A lot of the proposed changes will help give remote pilots the freedom to decide when and where it is safe to fly a drone. This will help improve commercial drone technology and services that can be integrated into businesses. It will also give recreational remote pilots the freedom to practice flying, which will improve the safety of trained pilots that use drones for business purposes.
The changes to the rules will help everybody and make flying drones much safer by allowing pilots the freedom they need to practice and train flying aircraft. Some of the changes will also leave the discretion of when a drone can be flown safely up to the pilot, and the manufacturer will have to ensure that drone technology is safe, but you will still need to fill out a waiver for flying at night, from moving transportation or other situations.
Flying a drone is more than just buying the latest technology and start flying. You have to meet requirements for different circumstances and make sure you follow the rules and laws that have been established for recreational and commercial drone pilots.