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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 need to apply for an exemption under the Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems (49 U.S.C. §44807). This authority replaces Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (PDF) (P. L. 112-95), which was repealed in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act (P. L. 115-254).

Section 333

Number of Petitions Granted / Closed
Petitions Granted Petitions Closed
5,551 1,780
As of 09/28/2016

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 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.

The Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems (49 U.S.C. § 44807) grants UAS operators safe and legal entry into the NAS, thus discouraging illegal operations and 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.

Questions about the Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems should be directed to 333exemptions@faa.gov.

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/advanced_operations/section_333/index.cfm