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What The New Rules Say About Light Drones And Who Can Fly Them


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  • The new rule applies to drones that weigh less than 55 pounds and that are flown for commercial purposes.
  • The rule does not apply to non-commercial (hobbyist) operations. They will continue to be conducted under rules that will now be contained in FAR Part 101.
  • Commercial operators can apply for an exemption to the rules and the FAA will grant it if it determines the operation can still be conducted safely.
  • All operations are line of sight.
  • The operator of the light commercial drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be supervised by someone with a certificate.
  • The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. Operations are allowed during daylight and during twilight if the drone has anti-collision lights.
  • To get a remote pilot certificate, an individual must pass a knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
  • Operators can also qualify to fly if they have a pilot’s license. In that case, they must have a current biennial flight review and have taken a UAS online training course provided by the FAA.
  • The FAA says that the TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications before the FAA will issue the certificate.
  • There is no requirement for the drone to meet current FAA airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. Airworthiness is confirmed each fight by the operator conducting a preflight visual and operational check to see if safety systems are working properly.
  • Pilots are required to check that the communications link between the controller and the drone is functioning properly.
  • Drones are restricted to operating only in authorized airspace below 400 feet. Pilots need to be aware of NOTAMS or other restrictions to flight.


Reprinted with permission from Plane and Pilot. Full article here.