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FAA releases unmanned aircraft rule

On June 21, 2016, the FAA released “Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107)” which now places federal restrictions or otherwise imposes guidelines on flying what are commonly referred to as “drones.” These rules are effective as of August 2016.

The summary of the regulations are divided into four sections 1) Operational Limitations; 2) Remote Pilot In Command Certifications and Responsibilities; 3). Aircraft requirements; and 4. Model Aircrafts. Each are summarized below and additional information can be obtained directly from the FAA:

1. Operational Limitations

  1.  The aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds.
  2.  The aircraft must remain in the Visual Line of Sight of the operator/observer.
    1. Visual line of sight accounts for corrective lenses.
  3. The aircraft may not be operated over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  4. The aircraft must only be operated during daylight or “civil twilight” (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time). There must also be appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  5.  The aircraft must yield right of way to other aircraft.
  6.  The operator may use a visual observer but is not required.
  7.  A first person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirements but can be used so long as the requirement is satisfied in other ways.
  8.  The aircraft may have a maximum groundspeed of 100 mph.
  9.  The aircraft may be operated at a maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level or, if higher than 400 feet, it is to remain within 400 feet of a structure.
  10.  May only fly with a minimum visibility of 3 miles from the control station.
  11.  Operation within a Class B, C, D, and E airspace is permitted with required ATC permission.
  12.  Operation within a Class G airspace is allowed without ATC permission.
  13.  No person may operate as the remote pilot for more than one unmanned aircraft at a time.
  14.  You may not operate a drone from a moving aircraft.
  15.  You may not operate the drone from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
  16.  No careless or reckless operation.
  17.  The aircraft may not carry hazardous materials.
  18.  The remote pilot must perform a preflight inspection.
  19.  You are not permitted to operate an unmanned aircraft if you know or have reason to know of any mental or physical condition which would prevent you from doing so safely or in compliance with the rules and regulations.
  20.  Foreign-registered small unmanned aircrafts are allowed to operate under part 107 if they satisfy the requirements of part 375.
  21.  You may have an external load on the unmanned aircraft so long as the load is securely attached and does not adversely interfere with the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.
  22.  Transportation of property for compensation or hire is allowed so long as:
    1. The aircraft (including the cargo) is less than 55 pounds TOTAL;
    2. The flight is conducted within visual sight and not from a moving vehicle;
    3. The flight occurs within a single State and does not involve transport between (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii though airspace outside Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession

2. Remote Pilot in Command Certifications and Responsibilities

  1.  Establishes a remote pilot in command position.
  2.  A person operating a small unmanned aircraft must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or being under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate.
  3. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:
    1. Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by:
      1.  Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge test center; or
      2.  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
    2. Be vetted by the TSA. 
    3. Be at least 16 years old.
  4.  Part 61 pilot certificate holders may obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon submission of their application for a permanent certificate. Other applicants will obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate upon successful completion of TSA security vetting. The FAA expects to issue temporary remote pilot certificates within 10 business days after receipt of the completed remote pilot certificate application.
  5.  A remote pilot in command must:
    1. Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the rule.
    2. Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.
    3. Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is in a condition for safe operation.
    4. Ensuring that the small unmanned aircraft complies with the existing registration requirements in Section 91.203(a)(2).


3. Aircraft Requirements

  1. FAA airworthiness certification is not required but the remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight check of the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation.

4. Model Aircraft

  1.  Part 107 does NOT apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336 of the Public Law 112-95.
  2.  The rule codifies the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

For more information, you can review the FAA’s press release here:

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Corey B. Friedman, Esq.