The regulation for operating drones to dispense or spray substances (including disinfectants) is 14 CFR Part 137, Agricultural Aircraft Operations.
Not all substances fall under this regulation, so you should first check to see if your proposed operation meets the FAA's criteria for part 137. If the substance you plan to dispense does meet this criteria (part 137.3), refer to Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operators (PDF) for guidance on the requirements you must meet before dispensing it.
What's an Agricultural Operation?
Under 14 CFR Part 137, the following aircraft operations are considered agricultural by nature:
- Dispensing any economic poison:
- The FAA defines an economic poison as any substance that acts as a pesticide, plant regulator, or defoliant.
- The FAA considers chemicals used as disinfectants for viruses to fall in the category of economic poisons as defined in part 137.3.
- Dispensing any other substance intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, propagation of plant life, or pest control.
- Engaging in dispensing activities directly affecting agriculture, horticulture, or forest preservation.
Note: Dispensing of live insects is not included.
What you need to do.
Step 1: Petition for an exemption.
- Drones weighing less than 55 pounds (including the weight of the substance being dispensed) are operated under 14 CFR part 107 and require exemption from §107.36 Carriage of hazardous material as well as several part 137 regulations.
- Drones weighing 55 pounds or more are operated under 14 CFR part 91 and require exemption from several 14 CFR part 61, 91, and 137 regulations.
For information on how to petition for exemption, see part 11.63 and Part 11.71.
View examples of exemptions for drones conducting agricultural operations.
Step 2: Apply for an Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate (AAOC).
- Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate (AAOC). Advisory Circular (AC) 137-1B (PDF) describes how you can apply for an AAOC under part 137. You must start the exemption process before applying for an AAOC.
Note: Each pilot must have a current part 107 remote pilot certificate.
To learn more about dispensing chemicals and agricultural products (part 137), contact the UAS Support Center.