New Regulations Go into Effect for Non-Recreational Use of Drones

The new rule is designed to minimize potential risks to other aircraft, people, and property

New Regulations Go into Effect for Non-Recreational Use of Drones
Image: Pixabay
August 30, 2016

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made effective its new, comprehensive regulations for piloting drones for uses other than recreation or hobbies.

The new rule is officially known as Part 107, and its stipulations are designed to minimize the potential risks to other aircraft, as well as any people or property on the ground, from use of a drone.

There are several ways in which people can benefit from the new rule.

One way is the use of waivers, which a pilot must apply for if his or her proposed operation does not comply with the stipulations in Part 107. Such users will have to prove that the operation will be conducted in a safe manner.

Another benefit is found in airspace authorization. Pilots can operate drones in what is known as Class G airspace—that is, uncontrolled airspace—without authorization from air traffic control. However, pilots planning a flight in any other airspace will need such authorization.

Pilots must apply for both waivers and access to controlled airspace online at the FAA's website at least 90 days before the intended flight. They are free to begin submitting requests now, but approved authorizations will be provided to air traffic facilities as follows: Class D and E Surface Area by October 3, 2016; Class C by October 31, 2016; and Class B by December 5, 2016. The FAA is working to approve requests ASAP, but the actual time required will depend on the complexity of individual requests as well as the volume of applications the agency receives.

In addition, pilots can take the Aeronautical Knowledge Test required by Part 107 at testing centers around the country. In order to receive a remote pilot certificate after passing the test, the pilot must then fill out an FAA Airman Certificate and/or a Rating Application. Pilots should know that the website may take up to 48 hours to record their passing score. The agency expects to be able to validate pilot applications within 10 days, at which time the pilot will receive instructions on how to print a temporary airman certificate good for 120 days. Within those 120 days, the agency will mail the pilot a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate.