- Airspace and Classes of Airspace
- Restricted Airspace
- Operational Waivers
- Airspace Authorizations/Flying under Part 107
- Public Safety
- Law Enforcement's Authority
- Flying in National/State/Local parks
- Remote Pilot Certification and Recurrent Test
- Off shore operations/infrastructure inspections
Airspace and Classes of Airspace
Q: How do I treat heliports?
A: Treat heliports the same as you would an airport when you fly your drone.
Q: How close to a local civil airport can I fly below 400'?
A: Assuming we are talking about flights conducted under Part 107, the answer depends on what airspace that airport lies within.
If the airport is in Class G airspace, you can fly anywhere within that airspace, under 400 feet and within visual line-of-sight. You must not interfere with manned traffic or create a collision hazard. If you are in controlled airspace, you need to obtain an airspace authorization via LAANC or DroneZone before you fly.
Q: Where can I find more information about Class E airspace?
A: See the Aeronautical Information Handbook, Chapter 3 for more information about airspace.
Q: How can I learn where I can or can't fly?
A: Consider arranging a meeting with a Certified Flight Instructor at your local flight school for some "ground instruction" time. They will charge for their time in most cases. You can also study the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, or look over some of the FAASTeam courses regarding airspace. You can also download many manuals and handbooks from the FAA website, found here.
Q: When operating in hilly areas, where do you measure the 400 feet from?
A: The 400' Above Ground Level (AGL) is measured from the drone directly to the ground below it, where the UAS is at any given moment during its flight. To maintain 400' above ground level (AGL) as the terrain elevation changes, the UAS altitude above mean sea level (MSL) changes. In other words, MSL + 400'.
Q: If I'm on a 1000 foot mountain top, am I allowed to fly 400ft above it and 400ft laterally of the cliff's edge as long as I do not enter controlled airspace? Are mountains treated like towers, buildings and other structures?
A: Mountains are not considered structures. The lateral distance cited isn't applicable to a mountain. A mountain that is 1457' above Mean Sea Level (MSL) plus 400' would let me fly up to 1857' MSL and still be at 400' Above Ground Level (AGL), and assuming I was still in Class G airspace, I could do that legally.
Q: Why does magenta shading "Echo airspace" start at 700 AGL rather than at ground level?
A: Some Class E airspace starts at 700' AGL, some at 1200' AGL, and some start at the surface. There are many factors that go into the decision as to what Class E airspace is where, such as instrument approach paths. There are many different sub-classifications of Class E airspace.
More information about airspace classifications is available in Chapter 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual.
Q: Can I fly a UAS below tree-top level in Class C airspace?
A: Only if you have an approved airspace authorization. You must have an authorization to fly a UAS at any altitude within Controlled airspace (Calls C is controlled airspace). Below tree top level is not sufficient in determining whether or not you can fly when you are located inside the surface area inner ring surrounding that airport.
Q: How can I fly near the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs? My understanding is that the Academy is closed on Sunday. How does this work with controlled airspace to fly within the 5mile radius.
A: A look at the VFR sectional and the Chart Supplement confirms that KAFF is sometimes Class D airspace and sometimes Class G airspace. See the Chart Supplement for more information on the times and days of the week it is controlled vs uncontrolled airspace. When the airport is inside Class G airspace, Part 107.43 applies. A Part 107 operator must not interfere with manned traffic and not create a hazard to manned aviation. You may need approval from USAFA to take off and land on their grounds, but as you can see in Part 107.43, there is no 5 mile limit associated with Class G airspace flying and no notification required. When the airport is inside Class D airspace, Part 107.41 applies and you must obtain an authorization via LAANC or DroneZone to fly when it is Class D airspace.
Q: I am operating within 1 mile of a class E airspace. The airport manager does not answer the phone, however as a Part 107 operator who needs access from time to time, how am I able to fly? (The airport is ZPH in Florida.)
A: A look at the VFR sectional and the Chart Supplement confirms that KZPH is located inside Class G airspace. See Part 107.43. Notification is not required for Part 107 operations in the vicinity of Class G airports. You must not interfere and not create a hazard with manned flight. You may need permission from the airport to take off and land within their ground property limits, but you can fly under Part 107 inside that Class G airspace. I see a lot of glider and parachute operations in the remarks section so exercise extreme caution and stay well clear of their operations.
Q: Why is most of Anaheim, CA restricted from flying?
A: This is due to a Permanent Flight Restriction around the Disneyland Theme Park that is established in that area for security reasons. See NOTAM FDC 3635 for more information about those flight restrictions.
Q: When a TFR is in effect, am I not allowed to take off if in the TFR zone?
A: Correct. No one is allowed to operate in a TFR without a specific authorization. The TFR NOTAM will describe the location, conditions, and point of contact to obtain approval to fly inside a particular TFR. Generally speaking, the FAA will not authorize anyone to fly in a TFR unless the point of contact proponent requests it. TFR's are published here.
Q: What are the requirements for flying at night?
A: If you want to fly at night under Part 107, you must apply for a waiver to 107.29, which restricts Part 107 operators to daylight flight only. Once you receive a waiver, you can fly anywhere in the country inside Class G airspace.
To obtain an airspace authorization to fly in controlled airspace at night, you will need to make that request via DroneZone after you obtain your waiver to 107.29. Before applying for a waiver read and follow the waiver safety explanation guidelines, and watch our prior webinars on how to apply for a daylight waiver.
Q: How can I get approval to fly at night if I am unable to contact the airport tower?
A: If you want to fly at night under Part 107, you must apply for a waiver to 107.29, which restricts Part 107 operators to daylight flight only. Once you receive a waiver, you can fly anywhere in the country inside Class G airspace.
To obtain an airspace authorization to fly in controlled airspace at night, you will need to make that request via DroneZone after you obtain your waiver to 107.29. Before applying for a waiver read and follow the waiver safety explanation guidelines, and watch our prior webinars on how to apply for a nighttime waiver.
Airspace Authorizations/Flying Under Part 107
Q: What is the best practice for heliports and sUAS flight operations? As a Part 107 sUAS Pilot in Command are you required to contact all helicopter ports or just hospital heliports via phone if it falls within 5 nm of your flight operations?
A: Under Part 107 in Class G airspace, there is no requirement to contact them. If you are going to be operating in that vicinity on a regular basis, they may welcome the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about their concerns and needs so you can fly neighborly and safely. Remember UAS must give way to all manned aircraft and not pose a collision hazard. If the airport (heliport) lies within controlled airspace, an airspace authorization is required, and that is obtained via LAANC or DroneZone.
Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, it was mentioned that a commercial airline files a plan and receives clearance to fly the route. However my understanding is that you can conduct a commercial flight, for example: AG spraying of photos without a flight plan using VFR rules. And that only two way radio communication is needed and no ATC clearance is required. Basically a commercial drone operator doesn't need an ATC clearance unless it's in B, C, D, E.
A: Part 107 permits a small UAS to fly in Class G airspace without any additional airspace authorizations required. The authorization to fly in Class G is included in Part 107. Remember that the operator must comply with all of Part 107, or seek a waiver to those portions of Part 107 they seek relief from. There should be no use of Aviation radios by a Part 107 operator, per FCC guidance, without an FCC issued Ground Station License. To fly in controlled airspace, a Part 107 operator must obtain an airspace authorization via LAANC or DroneZone.
Q: What is the site to verify airspace?
A: You can look at a Visual Flight Rules Sectional that covers your geographic location and see what airspace lies over the location you wish to fly, or use one of the apps from a LAANC Service Provider.
Q: We're looking to get a COA for our city. Is it better to have a separate COA for each Agency or can the city have a single COA?
A: This is a complicated topic that merits a separate conversation. Please reach out to the UASHelp@faa.gov for initial information on this subject and to set up a call with our public safety/government team. Please identify yourself and your entity and tell the help desk you are with a city government, and they will connect you with our public safety/government team. You can also use this Public Safety and Law Enforcement Toolkit.
Q: What is the process to renew COA's? Some of my authorizations came from an actual person but most of them came from the UAS.FAADroneZone@faa.gov email address.
A: For Part 107 operators, Airspace waivers are generally not being renewed, and they need to obtain an airspace authorization for each flight via LAANC or DroneZone. For Public Aircraft operators or Section 333 exemption holders (now 44807) operating under a COA, a new COA application needs to be completed in the COA Online Application Processing System (CAPS). We recommend you start the renewal process at least 60 days prior to the expiration of your COA. You will need to get a MyAccess form to start that process. Reach out to 9-AJV-115-UASOrganization@faa.gov for that form, identify yourself and your expiring COA number, and ask them to transfer your OE/AAAE COA over to CAPS.
Q: What resources are available for local law enforcement?
A: We have webinars dedicated to public safety and have a team set up to answer public safety questions. Please reach out to UASHelp@faa.gov for public safety specific information. We also have a public safety toolkit to help LE understand UAS.
Q: How does the rules of waivers apply to fire departments using a UAV during emergency operations?
A: Public safety must abide by the same flight rules as everyone else when they fly UAS. We have an emergency process to facilitate certain operations for public safety. You can reach out to UASHelp@faa.gov for info pertaining to Public Aircraft vs Civil Aircraft Operations. Please tell them your department name, your city, and what your concept is, and they will connect you with a team to help you. We also have some info for you on our Emergency Situations page that may be useful to you. You must have a Part 107 certificate or a Certificate of Waiver/Authorization (COA) on file to get an emergency, temporary waiver or automation, or amendment to fly. Please feel free to reach out to the support center at the email address above and we'll get you more info.
Q: Is the FAA attempting to change what Public Safety needs in order to have a program?
A: For the purposes of operating an unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace system in support of public safety missions there currently are two programs the public agency can utilize. Under 14 CFR part 107 as a civil operation or as a public aircraft operator flying missions under an approved COA. And we can issue two different types of COAs. One is for day and night operations of a UAS weighting less than 55 lbs. within Class G airspace, at or below 400 above the ground within visual line of sight of the aircraft within the CONUS of the United States. The other is under what is called a Jurisdictional COA that is for any weight UAS within a specific operating area that may include controlled airspace (Class D, Surface Class E, Class C or Class B).
Q: Are there any programs offered to Public Safety entities at no cost?
A: The FAA provides videos, webinars, websites, support people and other resources to support public safety. Please contact the FAA at UASHelp@faa.gov to request such assistance.
Q: Is law enforcement able to fly UASs around airports if they have multiple airports in their jurisdiction as long as the towers are notified?
A: If operating as a public entity, operations will be performed in accordance with a COA (Certificate of Authorization). The COA will entail any communication requirements for the designated operation area.
Q: Would a commercial EMS service that provides back-up municipal 9-1-1 response and is contracted with general hospitals be considered a public operator, or would they fall under the Part 107?
A: If they are not a government agency (they are not recognized by their State as a political sub-division of the State) they could not operate as a public aircraft operator.
Q: Where is the best place to find a list/map of what the FAA would consider "critical infrastructure" in my area? The FAA facility maps don't seem to designate these areas nor do aeronautical maps like skyvector. Any suggestions?
A: The FAA currently does not provide guidance or data regarding critical infrastructure. The FAA has started the rulemaking process for FESSA 2209, which will allow non-federal entities to request similar flight restrictions. Under the proposed new rule, critical infrastructure will be defined, and qualifying locations will be allowed to request UAS flight restrictions.
Q:Where do public education institutions like universities/colleges? Those teaching drone programs.
A: Public education institutions who wish to provide training on the use of unmanned aircraft would need to operate under 14 CFR Part 107. And if the operating location or mission were not authorized under the 14 CFR part 107 rule, they would need to request a waiver or authorization through the FAA.
Q: Are there any grants for Drones?
A: There are no grants for UAS through the FAA, but you should independently check with DHS and DOJ (if law enforcement) to see if there is funding that they might provide.
Q: How does this apply to federal agencies?
A: Federal Agencies are public agencies and as such operate under the same rules of those of a City, County, State or tribal agency.
Q: Are there any concerns with public agency using a private Part 107 remote pilot?
Q: Do you know of any school districts that are using drones for emergency situations? Which option are they using in the application process?
A: Not specifically aware of a school district using drones for emergency situations, but this would certainly be a viable use of UAS.
Q: Government-owned, contractor-operated assets? Does the PIC (and her served agency) get any relief from potential liability in these cases?
A:As far as the Flight rules are concerned, when flying as a Public Aircraft, the PIC is responsible. See 91.3(b). When flying as a civil aircraft, the PIC is responsible. See 107.19. When flying as a contractor to a public entity, you should definitely read Advisory Circular 00-1.1B Public Aircraft Operations. There is a good section in that AC that discusses the process to go thru to get Public Aircraft status given to you by the entity. The RPIC and Responsible Person are responsible for compliance with the flight rules, for everyone's safety.
Q: Is there an approved list of vendors which have been vetted by FAA UAS Program?
A: The FAA does not have an approved list of vendors.
Q: What type of licensing is needed when using for community events?
A: Operations conducted as a Public Aircraft COA (Part 91) are limited to those operations that meet the definition of a Governmental Function (see 49 USC 40125(a)2). If the community event does not meet this definition then the operation would need to be conducted under 14 CFR part 107 and any necessary additional waiver or authorizations from the FAA depending on the operation and airspace.
Q: Are there steps or different requirements federal agencies should take to fly under a Public Aircraft Operation?
A: Federal Agencies are public agencies and as such operate under the same rules of those of a City, County, State or tribal agency. And since they are automatically declared a Public Agency, they are not required to present a Public Declaration Letter for review by the FAA.
Q: Public Deceleration Letter – State Agencies must prove via state statutes that the agency is allowed to fly drones as a public safety operator?
A: To operate as a public aircraft Operator, a state agency (City, County or State) must declare to the FAA that the aircraft being flown meets the definition of a public aircraft (see Title 49 USC 40102(a)(41) (c) and or (d)) and that the aircraft will only be flow under the Governmental Function Definition (See 49 USC 40125(a)2) and not for compensation or Hire in compliance with 49 USC 40125(b). That declaration for a state entity will typically be addressed within their State Constitution.
Q: What are some common mistakes that public safety agencies make?
A: Trying to make the mission fit the technology as opposed to using technology to support the mission. Don't buy a UAS and try to build a mission around it, determine the mission and then the technology to support it.
Q: I don't see an expiration date on my license. Is it a yearly test?
A: Your certificate doesn't expire, only your ability to conduct operations which expires twenty four months for currency. If you take the recurrent test your initial certificate is still good for the next two years.
Q: For BVLOS, can a waiver – perhaps limited – be granted to safely test the system and capture the necessary data for full approval? If not, how can vendors or agencies collect the data to prove the BVLOS system works?
A: Testing of appliance outside of restricted airspace is a challenge. I suggest you look up some current waivers and speak to those who obtained the BVLOS waivers. Many of the successful waiver applicants use a chase aircraft or multiple visual observers.
Q: I would like to volunteer my Part 107 drone service to my local public safety agencies. Can I do this? If so, how?
A: Yes, a Part 107 pilot may be contracted by a public safety entity to fly under Part 107 as far as the FAA is concerned. Their policies on hiring 3rd parties would be up to them, of course. It is important to understand that the same Part 107 rules apply to public safety as they do to the general public.
Q: Is there a separate license for payloads over 55lbs?
A: To fly a UAS as a civil operator with a takeoff weight > 55 pounds, this is done via the 44807 exemption process, or go thru the Type Certificate process, or the Special Airworthiness Certificate-Experimental Category process, and those processes typically require a pilot certificate of the operator.
Q: Are there resources to study for part 107?
Q: Who would we obtain a clearance from in order to fly in National Parks over towers?
A: You would need to contact the NPS for that information. Here's a link to their website that may help you: https://www.nps.gov/articles/unmanned-aircraft-in-the-national-parks.htm
Q: How does BVLOS currently apply to public safety in terms of waivers and restrictions?
A: Public Safety must fully comply with Part 107 or their COA (if operating as a Public Aircraft) just like any other (civilian) Part 107 operator and BVLOS is not permitted for routine operations without a waiver for Part 107 operations, and a specific provision in a COA (see waiver safety explanation guidelines for Part 107.31 waivers). BVLOS remains a significant challenge given the state of technology in the industry, and is usually only granted in temporary, emergency situations. If you encounter a situation where you must go BVLOS in an actual emergency, follow the Special Governmental Interest process to obtain a temporary, emergency waiver to 107.31 if flying under Part 107, or a temporary, emergency amendment to your existing COA if flying as a Public Aircraft.
Q: What are the special considerations that need to be taken into account when flying near air force bases?
A: If the air force base has controlled airspace, you must request an airspace authorization via Drone Zone. Also, the pilot is responsible to ensure there are no flight restrictions associated with the proposed flight area.
Q: What is being done to improve the COA and/or waiver process for Law Enforcement Agencies?
A: The FAA recognizes that the current process needs to be streamlined to allow for more rapid access to the NAS.
Q: Can you get both a 107 and COA?
A: Yes, you can get both a Remote Pilot Certificate (Part 107) or a COA to operate as a Public Aircraft Operator (Part 91). You just cannot operate as both at the same time as they have different requirements for each type of operations.
Q: My blanket COA say I can fly at night, but does it have to be an emergency? How do you train for this if you can't fly at night?
A: The approval to operate under the COA including the provision for night operations is still restricted to an operation that meets the definition of a governmental function (Title 49 USC 40125(a)2) . If the unmanned aircraft is a component for the training mission, it can be flown under the COA.
Q: We understand that the Systems Operations Support Center (SOSC) can issue an Emergency COA in the zero grid area of controlled airspace. However, to unlock a DJI drone to operate in zero grid requires advanced documentation submitted to DJI demonstrating FAA approval. Is there a way to resolve this conflict?
A: SOSC provides the necessary authorizations for Emergency COA's. The FAA does not dictate service terms for DJI regarding its geofencing capabilities.
Q: I've found many examples of ways to write the materials required as COA application attachments (e.g. Communication). What are the requirements for each attachment? Is there a checklist to follow for each attachment?
A: The COA Application requires as a minimum 5 attachments. (1)The public declaration letter that declared the public agencies public aircraft status, (2) an airworthiness statement from the agencies accountable executive declaring the UAS(s) they are operating is airworthy and that they will maintain an airworthiness program, (3) A lost link document for each UAS that explains the loss of link protocol for the UAS, (4) a loss of communication document that describes the loss of communication between the PIC and their observer and the loss of communication between the PIC and Air traffic control if that is required and (5) an Emergency procedures document and lists the different emergencies a operation may have and how the public agency will respond to such emergencies.
Q: My organization has a COA in place with specific locations where operations shall occur. Can I choose to fly under part 107 if missions require the drone to fly outside of the locations noted in the COA?
A: You can fly every mission as a civil operator under Part 107. You can only fly some missions under your COA as a Public Aircraft. For daylight missions at a LAANC capable airport, Part 107 may be a better option for you. It's important to understand that if flying under Part 107, you must fully comply with Part 107 (which means a waiver to 107.29 to fly at night, for example). If flying under your COA, you must fully comply with your COA. You can't pick and choose parts of each that suit you. They are mutually exclusive legal frameworks. The crew MUST clearly understand which rules they are flying under before they take off.
Q: Do search and rescue operations receive a special COA so that the on-scene person in charge can make decisions about air traffic and which aircraft might get priority for flying? For example, helicopters.
A: The conditions and provisions of the COA must be complied with which includes the unmanned aircraft giving way to manned aviation. If there is a need to protect persons and property on the surface or in the air from a hazard associated with an incident on the surface or provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft or prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing and other aircraft above an incident or event which may generate a high degree of public interest, the incident management at the scene can request that the airspace be restricted.
Through our regional "UAS Working Group", geared primarily toward Public Safety, our subject matter experts have developed a concept we call the "Overlapping Jurisdictional COA", in which each of our local city and county public agencies are pursuing a Jurisdictional COA with a domain covering not only their own county, but also each of the contiguous, surrounding counties... Therefore, we are all able to adequately cover each of our neighbors, while also have them cover us. The justification for this is founded in existing public agency MOUs.
Q: Do these MOUs need to be included, or merely referenced when our agencies apply for Jurisdictional COAs?
A: It is not necessary to provide MOU's as part of the COA Application however it would be appropriate to explain the need for a jurisdictional COA that appears to well exceed the expected operating area a public safety agency would be expected to respond to. One could make a case for needing approval well outside ones normal operating environment however it must be noted that the larger the requested airspace, the longer it will take to accomplish the coordination for the approval of such a COA and it may be more efficient to just utilize the FAA's Special Governmental Interest (SGI) approval process when responding to infrequent missions outside ones normal jurisdictional boundary or alternatively, you can fly under 14 CFR Part 107.
From DFW's question, if we are using a detection system, and we see multiple flights on the system in our "protected zone" we as an airport have no visibility if it's an "approved" flight. We do not need the specific security sensitive info, just if it's a flight that is in the LAANC system so we are not wasting resources chasing an approved flight. Not a question
Q: If my agency operates under a COA, could I fly our UAS under Part 107 using my RPIC certificate for a flight that doesn't fall within the COA parameters? (like a school demonstration)
Q: Is there a resource library of example COA and SGI applications?
A: The Certificate of Waiver/Authorization (COA) does not contain the information needed to complete the on line program so a copy of a COA would not be beneficial in the processing of an application. For information on the filing of a Special Governmental Interest (SGI) Approval, please see information on Emergency Situations.
Q: Does aircraft type matter? We are interested in purchasing a fixed wing craft and would be interested in getting a COA.
A: Aircraft type does not matter. Weight of the aircraft matters since operations under Part 107 are limited to less than 55 lbs.
Q: If we were to use a drone for code enforcement purposes where we may not necessarily have consent from a property owner, is there a minimum altitude/height that we should fly?
A: Preemption allows you to cross a property owner's land at any altitude, however, you must operate within the limitations of your COA as a public operator. If you are operating as a civil operator under Part 107, then it depends on your area of operation, class of airspace, and limitations of your COA.
Q: Can a single government entity create a COA that covers all departments with multiple operators and aircraft? (Sheriff Dept, Police, Emergency Management, and Aviation Department.)
A: Yes, the entire city could be under one COA, for example, but the city needs to understand that anyone or any machine flying under that COA is the responsibility of the COA holder (the city in this example). The Responsible Person of the COA holder is responsible for exercising proper oversight and control over all who fly under that COA. It's important to understand as you design your command and control concept that in that scenario, if the COA is cancelled for any reason by the FAA, the entire group would be unable to fly under that COA. Some entities choose to centralize. Some decentralize and have the various departments obtain their own COAs and manage their own crews and machines. That's a decision that's up to the entity.
Q: How is the night waiver automatic in a COA application? Do you still have to provide the night waiver information you would provide for a Part 107 waiver?
A: A public aircraft operator (PAO) gets its flight operations authorized with a COA. A COA will have specific conditions and limitations based on the authority the operator requests, i.e., night flying. A PAO is also conducting its flight operations under Part 91. The information you would need to provide would be similar.
Q: Does a COA allow a fire department to conduct training flights? Specifically, initial and recurrent pilot training and training for emergency incident responses?
A: The public agency is allowed to operate under the COA as a public aircraft operator to conduct training exercises as a component/tool of the exercise. Training pilots on how to fly a UAS or using the UAS to memorialize events does not constitute a Governmental function and would not be authorized under the COA.
Q: With SGI COAs, do the aircraft also have to be owned or leased by the public agency requesting the SGI COA?
A: To apply for a waiver through the SGI process you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot with a current certificate OR a public agency must have an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). If the public agency is requesting an SGI under their COA they must operate a UAS that is either owned by the public agency or leased to the public agency or a minimum of 90 days (Please see Title 49 UAS 40102(a)(41)(c) and (d). If the aircraft is flown by a PIC under part 107, the aircraft just needs to be registered with the FAA.
Q: Are you saying a COA allows you to fly over public even in heavily populated areas even through the part 107 does not?
A: The approved COA will state that for those operations where it is necessary to operate over a human being in order to safeguard human life, the remote pilot in command must not operate any lower or in proximity to human beings necessary to accomplish the operation.
Q: Can this program be applied to a private college public safety office?
A: A private college is not a government agency and as such would not qualify to operate as a public aircraft operator.
Q: We have a Jurisdictional COA that authorizes us to fly in Class B airspace. Do we need to apply for an additional COA (Blanket COA) to fly in Class G airspace too?
A: If you can meet the requirements of Part 107, you can operate in Class G airspace in accordance with part 107 without any further authorization or waiver.
Law Enforcement's Authority
Q:If a city/municipality issues a permit to film a commercial activity (very common) and has PD on site to assist (say to keep non-participants out of the area as best they can in a dense urban downtown environment) and the pilot deviates from what they tell us and violate FAA rules, what exposure does the city/municipality have to FAA fines?
A:Every incident is analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Generally, a city is liable to the extent that it authorizes the operation. Deviations outside of that authorization are generally not considered as violations by a city.
Q:What types of enforcement actions have locals taken toward drone activity?
A:The FAA does not track non-FAA enforcement actions.
Q:Are local government bodies able to set and enforce their own drone regulations above and beyond the FAA?
A:Please refer to the State and Local Fact Sheet. Generally, local governments are able to exercise already existing authorities when it comes to drone operations.
Q:What penalties has the FAA imposed on governmental (local) entities that are in violation of these rules?
A:Generally, the FAA's first course of action is to educate operators when they are willing and able to comply. To date, there have been no local entities that are unwilling to come into compliance.
Q:Can state or other municipalities ban UAS flights legally, if not why are some placings allowing this?
A:Please refer to the State and Local Fact Sheet. Generally, outright prohibitions on UAS operations in the National Airspace System create preemption issues.
Q:Can local law enforcement enforce FAA regulations? Example someone recklessly flying 10 feet above a crowd of people.
A:Law enforcement personnel are not able to enforce FAA regulations; however, most State and local jurisdictions have some sort of "reckless endangerment" statutes they can enforce when appropriate.
Q:What is the FAA's current take on how we should approach local municipalities, states, parks, etc. instituting laws or rules restricting drone use? Where do things stand legally?
A:Please see the State and Local Fact Sheet.
Q:In regards to critical infrastructure flight restriction locations, is there a way to get facilities added into a "no fly zone" list as critical infrastructure?
A:Currently, National Security UAS Flight Restrictions are only available for federal security partners with locations having national security implications. The FAA has started the rulemaking process for FESSA 2209, which will allow non-federal entities to request similar flight restrictions. Under the proposed new rule, critical infrastructure will be defined, and qualifying locations will be allowed to request UAS flight restrictions.
Flying in National/State/Local parks
Q: Is it possible to fly in national parks at all?
A: The National Park Service (NPS) has a web page that discusses their policy on UAS operations within their Park boundaries. The NPS may allow some operations in certain locations but you have to contact them for their current UAS policies and permitting process.
Remote Pilot Certification and Recurrent Test
Q: Are drone pilots required to have a Part 107 certification in order to sell photos that they took using a drone?
A: If the activity is not for recreational purposes (and flying for the purpose of selling photos would seem a commercial purpose, not recreational), then yes, a Part 107 certificate and compliance with Part 107 would seem appropriate in the scenario you describe.
Q: If you already have a private pilot license, what more does one need to be licensed for Rule 107?
A: Please see the Remote Pilot Certificate information here and scroll down about mid-way for the Part 61 process. The process you take as a Part 61 pilot will depend in large part on whether or not you have a current flight review completed at the time you apply for the Part 107 certificate.
Q: Where can one find resources for part 107? Could you give us your assessment on all of the test prep courses out there?
A: While we can't comment on the quality of individual test prep courses, we want you to know that you can find all the information you need to learn for free on the FAA website. For more information on topics covered and test prep materials, please visit our Commercial Operators page here. You can also download the Aeronautical Information Manual, Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and other manuals here.
Q: When is the deadline to renew my pilot license?
A: One must renew their recurrent test of aeronautical knowledge (also known as currency) within 24 months of the initial or recurrent test in order to continue to exercise the privileges of the Part 107 certificate. Keep a copy of the recurrent test of aeronautical knowledge handy to be able to show proof if requested by an authorized FAA representative. Part 107 pilot certifications do not expire, just as Part 61 pilot certifications don't expire, so one doesn't "renew" their pilot certification, per se. One renews their aeronautical knowledge, not the certificate/license.
Q: Is the recertification test the same process as getting the original license?
A: Essentially, yes. A Part 107 Remote Pilot must take the initial or recurrent test of aeronautical knowledge test within the previous 24 months in order to continue to exercise the privileges of Part 107. In other words, a Part 107 pilot cannot fly under Part 107 on the 1st day of the 25th month after taking the initial or recurrent knowledge test, if they didn't renew their recurrent test of aeronautical knowledge at the Knowledge Testing Center within the 24 month period. If a Part 107 pilot also has a Part 61 certificate and has a current flight review, they have a different means of compliance with the requirements available to them.
Off Shore Operations/Infrastructure Inspections
Q: Do we need to get permission to fly in an uncontrolled zone in the area of an oil platform at sea or a ship at sea? Is there a minimum distance or altitude required when flying in the area of oil platforms at sea or vessels at sea?
A: This answer will address what is US airspace as it relates to offshore operations, whether or not an air traffic authorization is required, and whether flights over structures or moving vessels are permitted under Part 107.
US Airspace offshore.
US Airspace extends 12 nautical miles out from US territorial shores and Part 107 would be the applicable flight rules governing civil operation of a sUAS. Outside of this 12 NM distance, the airspace is subject to ICAO or other countries’ aviation rules.
An oil or gas rig or vessel inspection within Class G airspace, located less than 12 NM of shore, would not require a specific air traffic authorization under Part 107. If a TFR was established, or the airspace was otherwise restricted, you'd have to have an airspace authorization to operate inside that restricted airspace.
Other US laws and regulations apply when operating an aircraft over some bodies of water, or in the vicinity of wildlife, marine sanctuaries or fisheries such as US Marine Sanctuaries Act, Airborne Hunting Act, and regulations promulgated by NOAA, USFW, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, for example. There may also be State Laws that regulate the use of aircraft inside certain protected marine areas. The RPIC must comply with those regulations also, if applicable.
- Flights over structures or moving vessels.
Under Part 107, there is no minimum distance from an object a small UAS must maintain, but the operator must not fly so close as to create a hazard to people or property. Part 107 allows for daylight flights over structures within visual line of sight of the RPIC in Class G airspace. A water-borne maritime vessel is a vehicle. Also see 107.25, 107.39, 107.41, 107.45 and 107.51. Part 107.25 says that flight from a moving vehicle (a water-borne vessel) is allowed in sparsely populated areas, which you'd likely be in while away from shore, as long as you are not carrying another person's property for compensation or hire.
Q: If tasked to operate in Class G over critical infrastructure such as a power plant, if you have approval from plant operations, is there any FAA authorization or notification required?
A: The answer depends on whether that facility is on the Special Security Instructions list, also called the 99.7 list, and whether the facility is inside restricted airspace. You can view Restricted Security Sensitive Airspace on the FAA website here to see if the facility in question is on that list. You can also look at the UAS Facility Maps near many airports to see where some restricted areas are. See 14 CFR 99.7 for more information. If it lies within Class G airspace and not on the 99.7 list, no special airspace approval is required. You still have to comply with all other regulations of Part 107.
Q: As a remote pilot for a utility, I sometimes have to fly over private property in order to inspect our tanks. Are there any restrictions to this?
A: The flight operation you describe (flying to inspect tanks for a utility) is governed by Part 107, so you must fully comply with Part 107. The National Airspace System (NAS) is nationwide from just above the ground up to space. The usual state and local trespass laws apply on the ground, as well as utility right-of-way, but the air overhead is the NAS and a public (shared) space. While you may be able to fly safely over that property, you might have a local trespass issue if you have to step foot on their property to retrieve your drone or take off from that property, and if the utility did not already have the right of way thru that area. A good practice is to work with the property owner to get ground access as well.
Q: Would I need a 107 to inspect roofs after a hail storm?
A: Yes, inspecting roofs is not a recreational activity so you'd need a Part 107 remote pilot certificate and full compliance with Part 107.