In this chapter:
Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, is the regulation applicable to the use of drones or sUAS for a business or other non-recreational purpose.
This chapter does not provide, nor is it intended to provide, a legal interpretation of the regulations and is not intended to cover every provision of part 107.
Rather, this chapter is intended to provide guidance on those provisions of part 107 where additional information may be helpful. The FAA emphasizes, however, that persons subject to part 107 are responsible for complying with every applicable provision of part 107, regardless of whether the provision is discussed in this chapter.
Part 107 operators should be aware that state and local authorities may enact privacy-related laws specific to sUAS operations. The FAA encourages sUAS operators to review those laws prior to operating their sUAS. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has also published Voluntary Best Practices for sUAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability. This document outlines and describes voluntary best practices that sUAS operators could take to advance sUAS privacy, transparency, and accountability for the private and commercial use of sUAS.
Applicability of Part 107
- Model aircraft that are operated in accordance with Part 101 Subpart E, which applies to model aircraft meeting all of the following criteria:
- The aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
- The aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
- The aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
- The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft;
- When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport ATC tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation;
- The aircraft is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; and
- The aircraft is flown within VLOS of the person operating the aircraft.
At least serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. Within the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with Level 1 being a minor injury, Level 2 is moderate, Level 3 is serious, Level 4 is severe, Level 5 is critical, and Level 6 is a nonsurvivable injury. The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations.
Note: It would be considered a "serious injury" if a person requires hospitalization, but the injury is fully reversible (including, but not limited to, head trauma, broken bone(s), or laceration(s) to the skin that requires suturing).
Damage to any property, other than the sUAS, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower).
Note: For example, a sUAS damages a property whose fair market value is $200, and it would cost $600 to repair the damage. Because the fair market value is below $500, this accident is not required to be reported. Similarly, if the aircraft causes $200 worth of damage to property whose fair market value is $600, that accident is also not required to be reported because the repair cost is below $500.
Submitting the Report
The accident report must be made within 10 calendar-days of the operation that created the injury or damage. The report may be submitted to the appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center electronically or by telephone. To make a report by phone, see Figure 1-1, FAA Regional Operations Centers. Reports may also be made to the nearest jurisdictional Flight Standards District Office. The report should include the following information:
- sUAS remote PIC's name and contact information;
- sUAS remote PIC's FAA airman certificate number;
- sUAS registration number issued to the aircraft, if required;
- Location of the accident;
- Date of the accident;
- Time of the accident;
- Person(s) injured and extent of injury, if any or known;
- Property damaged and extent of damage, if any or known; and
- Description of what happened.
|Location Where Accident Occurred||Telephone Number|
|DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, WV, and VA||404-305-5150|
|AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, MA, ME, MS, NC, NH, PR, RI, SC, TN, VI, and VT||404-305-5156|
|AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY||425-227-1999|
|AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TX, and WI||817-222-5006|
Figure 1-1: FAA Regional Operations Centers
National Transportation Safety Board Reporting
In addition to the report submitted to the FAA Regional Operations Center, and in accordance with the criteria established by the National Transportation Safety Board Reporting (NTSB), certain sUAS accidents must also be reported to the NTSB. For more information, visit NTSB.
This section provides guidance regarding sUAS operating limitations and the responsibilities of the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, VO, and anyone else that may be directly participating in the sUAS operation. A person is also a direct participant in the sUAS operation if his or her involvement is necessary for the safe operation of the sUAS.
Just like a manned-aircraft pilot-in-command, the remote PIC of an sUAS is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that sUAS. The remote PIC will have final authority over the flight. Additionally, a person manipulating the controls can participate in flight operations under certain conditions. It is important to note that a person may not operate or act as a remote PIC or VO in the operation of more than one sUAS at the same time. The following items describe the requirements for both a remote PIC and a person manipulating the controls.
A person acting as a remote PIC of an sUAS in the NAS under part 107 must obtain a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating issued by the FAA prior to sUAS operation. The remote PIC must have this certificate easily accessible during flight operations. Again, the remote PIC will have the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of an sUAS operation conducted under part 107.
Additionally, part 107 permits transfer of control of an sUAS between certificated remote pilots. Two or more certificated remote pilots transferring operational control (i.e., the remote PIC designation) to each other may do so only if they are both capable of maintaining VLOS of the sUAS and without loss of control. For example, one remote pilot may be designated the remote PIC at the beginning of the operation, and then at some point in the operation another remote pilot may take over as remote PIC by positively communicating that he or she is doing so. As the person responsible for the safe operation of the sUAS, any remote pilot who will assume remote PIC duties should meet all of the requirements of part 107, including awareness of factors that could affect the flight.
Person Manipulating the Flight Controls
A person who does not hold a remote pilot certificate or a remote pilot that that has not met the recurrent testing/training requirements of part 107 may operate the sUAS under part 107, as long as he or she is directly supervised by a remote PIC and the remote PIC has the ability to immediately take direct control of the sUAS. This ability is necessary to ensure that the remote PIC can quickly address any hazardous situation before an accident occurs.
The ability for the remote PIC to immediately take over the flight controls could be achieved by using a number of different methods. For example, the operation could involve a "buddy box" type system that uses two control stations: one for the person manipulating the flight controls and one for the remote PIC that allows the remote PIC to override the other control station and immediately take direct control of the sUAS. Another method could involve the remote PIC standing close enough to the person manipulating the flight controls so as to be able to physically take over the control system from the other person. A third method could employ the use of an automation system whereby the remote PIC could immediately engage that system to put the sUAS in a pre-programmed "safe" mode (such as in a hover, in a holding pattern, or "return home").
An autonomous operation is generally considered an operation in which the remote pilot inputs a flight plan into the CS, which sends it to the autopilot onboard the sUAS. During automated flight, flight control inputs are made by components onboard the aircraft, not from a control system. Thus, the remote PIC could lose the control link to the sUAS and the aircraft would still continue to fly the programmed mission/return home to land. During automated flight, the remote PIC also must have the ability to change routing/altitude or command the aircraft to land immediately. The ability to direct the sUAS may be through manual manipulation of the flight controls or through commands using automation.
The remote PIC must retain the ability to direct the sUAS to ensure compliance with the requirements of part 107. There are a number of different methods that a remote PIC may utilize to direct the sUAS to ensure compliance with part 107. For example, the remote pilot may transmit a command for the autonomous aircraft to climb, descend, land now, proceed to a new waypoint, enter an orbit pattern, or return to home. Any of these methods may be used to satisfactorily avoid a hazard or give right of way.
The use of automation does not allow a person to simultaneously operate more than one sUAS.
All sUAS must be registered, as provided for in 14 CFR part 47 or part 48 prior to operating under part 107. Part 48 is the regulation that establishes the streamlined online registration option for sUAS that will be operated only within the territorial limits of the United States. Alternatively, sUAS can elect to register under part 47 in the same manner as manned aircraft.
Registration of Foreign-Owned and Operated sUAS
If sUAS operations involve the use of foreign civil aircraft, the operator would need to obtain a Foreign Aircraft Permit pursuant to 14 CFR part 375, § 375.41 before conducting any commercial air operations under this authority. Foreign civil aircraft means, a) an aircraft of foreign registry that is not part of the armed forces of a foreign nation, or b) a U.S.-registered aircraft owned, controlled, or operated by persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Application instructions are specified in § 375.43. Applications should be submitted by electronic mail to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of International Aviation, Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division. Additional information can be obtained at Foreign Air Carrier Economic Licensing.
The remote PIC and person manipulating the controls must be able to see the sUAS at all times during flight. Therefore, the sUAS must be operated closely enough to the CS to ensure visibility requirements are met during sUAS operations. This requirement also applies to the VO, if used during the aircraft operation.
However, the person maintaining VLOS may have brief moments in which he or she is not looking directly at or cannot see the sUAS, but still retains the capability to see the sUAS or quickly maneuver it back to VLOS. These moments can be for the safety of the operation (e.g., looking at the controller to see battery life remaining) or for operational necessity.
For operational necessity, the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls may intentionally maneuver the sUAS so that he or she loses sight of it for brief periods of time. Should the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls lose VLOS of the sUAS, he or she must regain VLOS as soon as practicable.
For example, a remote PIC stationed on the ground utilizing a sUAS to inspect a rooftop may lose sight of the aircraft for brief periods while inspecting the farthest point of the roof. As another example, a remote PIC conducting a search operation around a fire scene with a sUAS may briefly lose sight of the aircraft while it is temporarily behind a dense column of smoke. However, it must be emphasized that even though the remote PIC may briefly lose sight of the sUAS, he or she always has the see-and-avoid responsibilities set out in part 107, §§ 107.31 and 107.37.
The circumstances of what would prevent a remote PIC from fulfilling those responsibilities will vary, depending on factors such as the type of sUAS, the operational environment, and distance between the remote PIC and the sUAS. For this reason, there is no specific time interval that interruption of VLOS is permissible, as it would have the effect of potentially allowing a hazardous interruption or prohibiting a reasonable one. If VLOS cannot be regained, the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls should follow pre-determined procedures for a loss of VLOS. These procedures are determined by the capabilities of the sUAS and may include immediately landing the sUAS, entering hover mode, or returning to home sequence. Thus, the VLOS requirement would not prohibit actions such as scanning the airspace or briefly looking down at the sUAS control system.
VLOS must be accomplished and maintained by unaided vision, except vision that is corrected by the use of eyeglasses (spectacles) or contact lenses. Vision aids, such as binoculars, may be used only momentarily to enhance situational awareness.
For example, the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO may use vision aids to avoid flying over persons or conflicting with other aircraft. Similarly, first person view devices may be used during operations, but do not satisfy the VLOS requirement. While the rule does not set specific vision standards, the FAA recommends that remote PICs, persons manipulating the controls, and VOs maintain 20/20 distant vision acuity (corrected) and normal field of vision.
Visual Observer (VO)The use of a VO is optional. The remote PIC may choose to use a VO to supplement situational awareness and VLOS.
Although the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls must maintain the capability to see the sUAS, using one or more VOs allows the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls to conduct other mission-critical duties (such as checking displays) while still ensuring situational awareness of the sUAS. The VO must be able to effectively communicate:
- The sUAS location, attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;
- The position of other aircraft or hazards in the airspace; and
- The determination that the sUAS does not endanger the life or property of another.
To ensure that the VO can carry out his or her duties, the remote PIC must ensure that the VO is positioned in a location where he or she is able to see the sUAS sufficiently to maintain VLOS. The remote PIC can do this by specifying the location of the VO. The FAA also requires that the remote PIC and VO coordinate to 1) scan the airspace where the sUAS is operating for any potential collision hazard, and 2) maintain awareness of the position of the sUAS through direct visual observation. This would be accomplished by the VO maintaining visual contact with the sUAS and the surrounding airspace, and then communicating to the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls the flight status of the sUAS and any hazards which may enter the area of operation, so that the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls can take appropriate action.
To make this communication possible, the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, and VO must work out a method of effective communication, which does not create a distraction and allows them to understand each other. The communication method must be determined prior to operation. This effective communication requirement would permit the use of communication-assisting devices, such as a hand-held radio, to facilitate communication from a distance.
Operation Near Airports; in Certain Airspace; in Prohibited or Restricted Areas; or in the Proximity of NOTAMs
Though many sUAS operations will occur in uncontrolled airspace, there are some that may need to operate in controlled airspace. Operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from ATC.
The sUAS remote PIC must understand airspace classifications and requirements. Failure to do so would be in violation of the part 107 regulations and may potentially have an adverse safety effect. Airspace classifications will be covered in depth in the next chapter.
Although sUAS will not be subject to part 91, the equipage and communications requirements outlined in part 91 were designed to provide safety and efficiency in controlled airspace. Accordingly, while sUAS operating under part 107 are not subject to part 91, as a practical matter, ATC authorization or clearance may depend on operational parameters similar to those found in part 91. The FAA has the authority to approve or deny aircraft operations based on traffic density, controller workload, communication issues, or any other type of operations that could potentially impact the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic in that airspace. Those planning sUAS operations in controlled airspace are encouraged to contact the FAA as early as possible.
Operations Near an Airport—Notification and Permissions
Unless the flight is conducted within controlled airspace, no notification or authorization is necessary to operate at or near an airport. When operating in the vicinity of an airport, the remote PIC must be aware of all traffic patterns and approach corridors to runways and landing areas. The remote PIC must avoid operating anywhere that the presence of the sUAS may interfere with operations at the airport, such as approach corridors, taxiways, runways, or helipads. Furthermore, the remote PIC must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, including aircraft operating on the surface of the airport.
Remote PICs are prohibited from operating their sUAS in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at airports, heliports, and seaplane bases. While a sUAS must always yield right-of-way to a manned aircraft, a manned aircraft may alter its flightpath, delay its landing, or take off in order to avoid an sUAS that may present a potential conflict or otherwise affect the safe outcome of the flight. For example, a sUAS hovering 200 feet above a runway may cause a manned aircraft holding short of the runway to delay takeoff, or a manned aircraft on the downwind leg of the pattern to delay landing. While the sUAS in this scenario would not pose an immediate traffic conflict to the aircraft on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern or to the aircraft intending to take off, nor would it violate the right-of-way provision of § 107.37(a), the sUAS would have interfered with the operations of the traffic pattern at an airport.
In order to avoid interfering with operations in a traffic pattern, remote PICs should avoid operating in the traffic pattern or published approach corridors used by manned aircraft. When operational necessity requires the remote PIC to operate at an airport in uncontrolled airspace, the remote PIC should operate the sUAS in such a way that the manned aircraft pilot does not need to alter his or her flightpath in the traffic pattern or on a published instrument approach in order to avoid a potential collision. Because remote PICs have an obligation to yield right-of-way to all other aircraft and avoid interfering in traffic pattern operations, the FAA expects that most remote PICs will avoid operating in the vicinity of airports because their aircraft generally do not require airport infrastructure, and the concentration of other aircraft increases in the vicinity of airports.
Air Traffic Organization
The Air Traffic Organization (ATO) does not have the authority to deny sUAS operations on the basis of equipage that exceeds the part 107 requirements. Because additional equipage and technologies, such as geo-fencing, have not been certificated by the FAA, they need to be examined on a case-by-case basis in order for the FAA to determine their reliability and functionality. Additionally, requiring ATC to review equipage would place a burden on ATC and detract from other duties. Instead, a remote pilot who wishes to operate in controlled airspace because he or she can demonstrate mitigations through equipage may do so by applying for a waiver.
Recurring or Long-Term Operations
For recurring or long-term operations in a given volume of controlled airspace, prior authorization could perhaps include a letter of agreement to identify shortfalls and establish operating procedures for sUAS. This agreement will outline the ability to integrate into the existing air traffic operation and may improve the likelihood of access to the airspace where operations are proposed. This agreement will ensure all parties involved are aware of limitations and conditions and will enable the safe flow of aircraft operations in that airspace. For short-term or short-notice operations proposed in controlled airport airspace, a letter of agreement may not be feasible. Prior authorization is required in all cases.
Temporary Flight Restrictions
Certain temporary flight restrictions may be imposed by way of a NOTAM or Notice to Airmen. Therefore, it is necessary for the sUAS remote PIC to check for NOTAMs before each flight to determine if there are any applicable airspace restrictions.
Type of Airspace
It is important that sUAS remote PICs also be aware of the type of airspace in which they will be operating their sUAS. Referring to the B4UFly app or a current aeronautical chart of the intended operating area will aid the sUAS remote PIC's decision-making regarding operations in the NAS.
The sUAS must be operated in accordance with the following limitations:
- Cannot be flown faster than a groundspeed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour);
- Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet AGL, unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure's immediate uppermost limit;
- Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the control system, may not be less than 3 SM; and
- Minimum distance from clouds being no less than 500 feet below a cloud and no less than 2000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot's ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take the appropriate actions to maintain safety.
There are many different types of sUAS and different ways to determine groundspeed. Therefore, this guidance will only touch on some of the possible ways for the remote PIC to ensure that the sUAS does not exceed a groundspeed of 87 knots during flight operations. Some of the possible ways to ensure that 87 knots is not exceeded are as follows:
- Installing a GPS device on the sUAS that reports groundspeed information to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot takes into account the wind direction and speed and calculates the sUAS airspeed for a given direction of flight, or
- Timing the groundspeed of the sUAS when it is flown between two or more fixed points, taking into account wind speed and direction between each point, then noting the power settings of the sUAS to operate at or less than 87 knots groundspeed, or
- Using the sUAS manufacturer design limitations (e.g., installed groundspeed limiters).
In order to comply with the maximum altitude requirements of part 107, as with determining groundspeed, there are multiple ways to determine a sUAS's altitude above the ground or structure. Some possible ways for a remote pilot to determine altitude are as follows:
- Installing a calibrated altitude reporting device on the sUAS that reports the sUAS altitude above MSL to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot subtracts the MSL elevation of the CS from the sUAS reported MSL altitude to determine the sUAS AGL altitude above the terrain or structure;
- Installing a GPS device on the sUAS that also has the capability of reporting MSL altitude to the remote pilot;
- With the sUAS on the ground, have the remote pilot and VO pace off 400 feet from the sUAS to get a visual perspective of the sUAS at that distance, wherein the remote pilot and VO maintain that visual perspective or closer while the sUAS is in flight; or
- Using the known height of local rising terrain and/or structures as a reference.
Visibility and Distance from Clouds
Once the remote PIC and VO have been able to reliably establish the sUAS AGL altitude, it is incumbent on the remote PIC to determine that visibility from the CS is at least 3 SM and that the sUAS is kept at least 500 feet below a cloud and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud.
One of the ways to ensure adherence to the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements is to obtain local aviation weather reports that include current and forecast weather conditions. If there is more than one local aviation reporting station near the operating area, the remote PIC should choose the closest one that is also the most representative of the terrain surrounding the operating area. If local aviation weather reports are not available, then the remote PIC may not operate the sUAS if he or she is not able to determine the required visibility and cloud clearances by other reliable means. It is imperative that the sUAS not be operated above any cloud, and that there are no obstructions to visibility, such as smoke or a cloud, between the sUAS and the remote PIC.
Prohibited Operation Over Persons
Part 107 prohibits a person from flying a sUAS directly over a person who is not under a safe cover, such as a protective structure or a stationary vehicle. However, a sUAS may be flown over a person who is directly participating in the operation of the sUAS, such as the remote PIC, other person manipulating the controls, a VO, or crewmembers necessary for the safety of the sUAS operation, as assigned and briefed by the remote PIC. There are several ways that the sUAS remote PIC can comply with these requirements, such as:
- Selecting an operational area (site) that is clearly unpopulated/uninhabited. If selecting a site that is populated/inhabited, have a plan of action which ensures persons remain clear of the operating area, remain indoors, or remain under safe cover until such time that the sUAS flight has ended. Safe cover is a structure or stationary vehicle that would protect a person from harm if the sUAS were to crash into that structure or vehicle;
- Establishing an operational area in which the remote PIC has taken reasonable precautions to keep free of persons not directly participating in the operation of the sUAS;
- Choosing an operating area that is sparsely populated, or, ideally, clear of persons if operating a sUAS from a moving vehicle;
- Having a plan of action that ensures the sUAS remains clear of persons who may enter the operating area.
- Adopt an appropriate operating distance from persons not directly participating in the operation of the sUAS.
Remaining Clear of Other Aircraft
A remote PIC has a responsibility to operate the sUAS so it remains clear of and yields to all other aircraft. This is traditionally referred to as "see and avoid." To satisfy this responsibility, the remote PIC must know the location and flight path of his or her sUAS at all times. The remote PIC must be aware of other aircraft, persons, and property in the vicinity of the operating area, and maneuver the sUAS to avoid a collision, as well as prevent other aircraft from having to take action to avoid the sUAS.
Operations from Moving Vehicles
Part 107 permits operation of an sUAS from a moving land or water-borne vehicle over a sparsely-populated area. However, operation from a moving aircraft is prohibited. Additionally, sUAS transporting another person's property for compensation or hire may not be operated from any moving vehicle.
Waiving the Sparsely-Populated Area Provision
Although the regulation states that operations from a moving vehicle may only be conducted over a sparsely-populated area, this provision may be waived. The operation is subject to the same restrictions that apply to all other part 107 operations. For instance, the remote PIC operating from a moving vehicle is still required to maintain VLOS and operations are still prohibited over persons not directly involved in the operation of the sUAS unless under safe cover. The remote PIC is also responsible for ensuring that no person is subject to undue risk as a result of loss of control of the sUAS for any reason. If a VO is not located in the same vehicle as the remote PIC, the VO and remote PIC must still maintain effective communication.
Careless or Reckless Operation of sUAS
Part 107 also prohibits careless or reckless operation of an sUAS. Flying an sUAS while driving a moving vehicle is considered to be careless or reckless because the person's attention would be hazardously divided. Therefore, the remote PIC or person manipulating the flight controls cannot operate an sUAS and drive a moving vehicle in a safe manner and remain in compliance with part 107.
Other laws, such as state and local traffic laws, may also apply to the conduct of a person driving a vehicle. Many states currently prohibit distracted driving and state or local laws may also be amended in the future to impose restrictions on how cars and public roads may be used with regard to an sUAS operation. The FAA emphasizes that people involved in an sUAS operation are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and not just the FAA's regulations.
Transportation of Property
Part 107 permits transportation of property by sUAS for compensation or hire. These operations must be conducted within a confined area and in compliance with the operating restrictions of part 107. When conducting the transportation of property, the transport must occur wholly within the bounds of a state. It may not involve transport between, 1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii, 2) the District of Columbia (DC) and another place in DC, or 3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession, as this is defined by statute as interstate air transportation.
As with other operations in part 107, sUAS operations involving the transport of property must be conducted within VLOS of the remote pilot. While the VLOS limitation can be waived for some operations under the rule, it cannot for transportation of property. Additionally, part 107 does not allow the operation of an sUAS from a moving vehicle or aircraft if the sUAS is being used to transport property for compensation or hire. This limitation cannot be waived. The maximum total weight of the sUAS (including any property being transported) is limited to under 55 pounds. Additionally, other provisions of part 107 require the remote pilot to know the sUAS's location; to determine the sUAS's attitude, altitude, and direction; to yield the right-of-way to other aircraft; and to maintain the ability to see and avoid other aircraft.
Part 107 does not allow the carriage of hazardous materials because the carriage of hazardous materials poses a higher level of risk.
Part 107 prohibits operation of an sUAS at night, which is defined as the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in The Air Almanac, converted to local time. In the continental United States, evening civil twilight is the period of sunset until 30 minutes after sunset and morning civil twilight is the period of 30 minutes prior to sunrise until sunrise. In Alaska, the definition of civil twilight differs and is described in The Air Almanac. The Air Almanac provides tables which are used to determine sunrise and sunset at various latitudes. These tables can also be downloaded from the Naval Observatory and customized for your location.
Civil Twilight Operations
When sUAS operations are conducted during civil twilight, the sUAS must be equipped with anti-collision lights that are capable of being visible for at least 3 SM. However, the remote PIC may reduce the visible distance of the lighting less than 3 SM during a given flight if he or she has determined that it would be in the interest of safety to do so, for example if it impacts his or her night vision. sUAS not operated during civil twilight are not required to be equipped with anti-collision lighting.
Careless or Reckless Operation
As with manned aircraft, remote PICs are prohibited from engaging in a careless or reckless operation. We also note that because sUAS have additional operating considerations that are not present in manned aircraft operations, there may be additional activity that would be careless or reckless if conducted using an sUAS. For example, failure to consider weather conditions near structures, trees, or rolling terrain when operating in a densely populated area could be determined as careless or reckless operation.
Certificate of Waiver
Part 107 includes the option to apply for a Certificate of Waiver (CoW). This CoW will allow an sUAS operation to deviate from certain provisions of part 107 if the Administrator finds that the proposed operation can be safely conducted under the terms of that CoW. A list of the waivable sections of part 107 can be found in § 107.205 and are listed below:
- Section 107.25, Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
- Section 107.29, Daylight operation.
- Section 107.31, Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
- Section 107.33, Visual observer.
- Section 107.35, Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.
- Section 107.37(a), Yielding the right of way.
- Section 107.39, Operation over people.
- Section 107.41, Operation in certain airspace.
- Section 107.51, Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
Applying for a Certificate of Waiver
The application must contain a complete description of the proposed operation and a justification, including supporting data and documentation (as necessary), that establishes that the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a CoW.
Although not required by part 107, the FAA encourages applicants to submit their application at least 90 days prior to the start of the proposed operation. The time required for the FAA to make a determination regarding waiver requests will vary based on the complexity of the request. The amount of data and analysis required as part of the application will be proportional to the specific relief that is requested.
For example, a request to waive several sections of part 107 for an operation that takes place in a congested metropolitan area with heavy air traffic will likely require significantly more data and analysis than a request to waive a single section for an operation that takes place in a sparsely-populated area with minimal air traffic. If a CoW is granted, that certificate may include specific special provisions designed to ensure that the sUAS operation may be conducted as safely as one conducted under the provisions of part 107.