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Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Section 44807)

The Small UAS Rule (14 CFR part 107) is only applicable to unmanned aircraft (drones) that weigh less than 55 pounds at takeoff. To fly an unmanned aircraft that weighs 55 pounds or more, operators may apply for an exemption under the Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems (49 U.S.C. §44807) or apply for a certification.

The Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems (49 U.S.C. § 44807) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to use a risk-based approach to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a drone to operate safely in the national airspace system (NAS). Under this authority, the Secretary may grant exemptions to the applicable operating rules, aircraft requirements, and pilot requirements for a specific operation on a case-by-case basis. This grants UAS operators safe and legal entry into the NAS, thus improving safety. It is anticipated that this activity will result in significant economic benefits, and the FAA Administrator has identified this as a high priority project to address demand for civil operation of drones for commercial purposes.

Certification is how the FAA manages risk through safety assurance. It provides the FAA confidence that a proposed product or operation will meet FAA safety expectations to protect the public. Certification affirms that FAA requirements have been met. Learn more about:

Section 333 Requests and Authorizations

The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act (P. L. 115-254) repealed Section 333 and replaced it with Section 44807. Read Section 333 historical data here:

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