What is a Waiver?
A waiver is an official document issued by the FAA which approves certain operations of aircraft outside the limitations of a regulation.
You may request to fly specific drone operations not allowed under part 107 by requesting an operational waiver. These waivers allow drone pilots to deviate from certain rules under part 107 by demonstrating they can still fly safely using alternative methods.
Drone Operations that Require Waivers
You do NOT need a waiver to fly a drone following part 107 rules. You DO need a waiver when you want to operate a drone contrary to the rules in part 107 under the waivable operations listed below:
|You want to…||Part 107 regulation you need a waiver from…|
|Fly a UAS from a moving aircraft or a vehicle in populated areas||§ 107.25 – Operation from a Moving Vehicle or Aircraft|
|Fly a UAS at night||§ 107.29 – Daylight Operations|
|Fly a UAS beyond your ability to clearly determine its orientation with unaided vision||§ 107.31 – Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation|
|User a visual observer without following all visual observer requirements||§ 107.33 – Visual Observer|
|Fly multiple UAS with only 1 remote pilot||§ 107.35 – Operation of Multiple Small UAS|
|Fly a UAS without having to give way to other aircraft||§ 107.37(a) – Yielding Right of Way|
|Fly a UAS over a person/people||§ 107.39 – Operation Over People|
Fly a UAS:
|§ 107.51 – Operating limitations for Small Unmanned Aircraft|
In Section 107.39, Operations Over Human Beings, what does "over people" mean?
The term "over" refers to the flight of the small unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person. For example, a small UAS that hovers directly over a person's head, shoulders, or extended arms or legs would be an operation over people. Similarly, if a person is lying down, for example at a beach, an operation over that person's torso or toes would also constitute an operation over people. An operation during which a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of the dwell time, if any, over the person, would be an operation over people.
In Section 107.39, Operations Over Human Beings, what does "directly participating mean"?
The term "directly participating" refers to specific personnel that the remote pilot in command has deemed to be involved with the flight operation of the small unmanned aircraft. These include the remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the controls of the small UAS (if other than the remote pilot in command), and the visual observer. These personnel also include any person who is necessary for the safety of the small UAS flight operation. For example, if a small UAS operation employs a person whose duties are to maintain a perimeter to ensure that other people do not enter the area of operation, that person would be considered a direct participant in the flight operation of the small UAS.
How to Apply for a Waiver
Step 1: Determine what you need.
Decide what kind of waiver you need. Request a waiver for only what you need to fly your mission.
These documents and webinars can help you learn more about the waiver process and how to fill out the application:
- Waiver Application Instructions (PDF)
- Waiver Safety Explanation Guidelines
- Sample safety justifications for small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or drone waivers
- "Where's My Waiver?" – a webinar about the waiver process
- "Just the Facts" – a webinar about how to fill out the waiver application form
- "Risky Business" – a webinar about how to do how to do risk assessments for successful waiver applications
Create an account, or log into your existing account. Select "Fly a sUAS under Part 107." (Note: You do not need to register a drone to request a waiver. When prompted to input make/model information for your drone, simply keep selecting "next" to bypass the payment forms.)
Submit your application, including all supporting documents and attachments, through your FAA DroneZone account. Select the "Operational Waiver" option.
Step 3: The Decision.
We will do our best to review and approve or disapprove waiver requests within 90 days of submission. Processing times will vary based on the complexity of your request and the completeness of your initial application.
If we need additional information to complete our review, we will contact the Responsible Person listed on your waiver application. Requests for information will be sent to you via DroneZone. If we need to send you a request for information, you will receive a DroneZone status change email and will need to log into your account to view and respond to the request. Requests will include questions to answer, instructions for responding, and a time limit for responses. If you do not respond to a request for information within the time limit, your application will be canceled and you will have to resubmit it.
Read the Paperwork Reduction Act and Privacy Statements (PDF) to learn more.
Visit the Emergency Operations page to learn more about expedited approvals for first responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations.