On June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had finalized its Part 107 operational rule for commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. The rule offers safety regulations for drones weighing less than 55 pounds being used for non-hobbyist operations. It takes effect in late August 2016.
According to the FAA, the rule is designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. Below are a few of the rule’s provisions:
- Pilots are required to keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight.
- Operations are allowed during daylight and during twilight if the drone has anti-collision lights.
- Flights are prohibited over unprotected people on the ground who aren’t directly participating in the drone’s operation.
- The person flying the drone must have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone who does.
- A person must be at least 16 years old to qualify for a remote pilot certificate.
- Operators are responsible for ensuring a drone is safe to fly through a preflight visual and operational check; drones are not required to comply with current FAA airworthiness standards or aircraft certification.
There is a process available to waive some restrictions and the FAA will make an online portal available to apply for waivers in the coming months.
The new rule doesn’t deal with privacy issues, but the FAA is encouraging drone pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography. As part of its privacy education campaign, the FAA will provide drone operators with recommended privacy guidelines during UAS registration and through its B4UFly mobile app. Privacy will also be addressed during the pilot certification process. Additionally, the agency will issue new guidance to local and state governments on drone privacy issues.
Part 107 regulations don’t apply to model aircraft.
Find out more at http://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf.