FAA Dramatically Reduces Restrictions on Commercial Drones
What the new regulation means for you
Today the FAA released the long-awaited Part 107 rule, eliminating some of the most significant barriers to commercial drone use. This is a major milestone for the commercial drone industry. So far at DroneDeploy we’ve witnessed strong adoption of commercial drones in the U.S., even despite onerous restrictions and regulatory uncertainty. Now that the FAA is making it easier to fly a commercial drone legally, we expect to see adoption accelerate and reach radical new heights.
In case you haven’t been following rule-making process, Part 107 applies to most commercial drone operations, specifically those with aircraft under 55 pounds, operating in daylight, within line of site, below 400 feet and away from people. Here’s a summary of some of the key differences between previous regulatory requirements and those provided for under Part 107.
Opening the Skies to New Pilots
The most significant change under Part 107 is that operating drones commercially no longer requires a pilot’s license and section 333 exemption. Up until this point, the need for a licensed pilot was the most significant bottleneck to many businesses looking to expand drone operations. Drone adoption has been growing rapidly — 300,000 drones were registered within the first month after the FAA opened its registration site — and there are simply not enough pilots of manned aircraft to keep up with demand.
Instead of requiring a pilot’s license to operate a drone commercially, the FAA will only require a “Remote Pilot Certificate”, which will be awarded after passing a written knowledge test at one of 700 testing centers located around the United States. This simplified certification process will help the FAA avoid the kinds of bottlenecks we’ve seen in the section 333 exemption process and make obtaining a remote pilot certificate more comparable to obtaining a driver’s license. The new certification will also be much more affordable than the current $7,000 cost to obtain a license to pilot manned aircraft.
Streamlining Procedures for Existing Operators
The good news isn’t limited to new pilot certification — Part 107 also seeks to make day-to-day operations more efficient. Under Part 107, drone pilots are no longer required to file a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) before flying, nor are they required to have a second person (visual observer) present, significantly reducing the costs and man-hours associated with each flight.
Beginning and Scaling Drone Operations
If you’ve been waiting for regulatory clarity before beginning to explore or investing further in drone operations, Part 107 IS the rule you’ve been waiting for. Not only does Part 107 reduce the previous barriers to starting a commercial drone operation, it also makes it easier for large enterprises to scale their drone activities with more pilots, more efficient use of personnel and fewer regulatory hurdles.
Announced today, June 21st, and expected to be published in 5–7 days, the rule will take effect 60 days later. But that doesn’t mean you need to wait until August to begin preparing for certification — later today the FAA is expected to make training materials available for operators.
No matter the stage of your operation, DroneDeploy can help make aerial data accessible and productive throughout your organization. We’re trusted by global brands across a broad range of industries. It’s free to try and we’re ready to help you scale your drone activities.
News and Important Links
Part 107 has been released, but there will continue to be important news and information released as the FAA begins implementing the new rule. We will keep this section updated with the best resources on the new rule and what it means.
- Official Part 107 Press Release from the FAA
- Full text of Part 107
- FAA Online Small UAS Knowledge Test (can be used for Part 107 certification for existing Part 61 certificate holders)
- FAA Training materials for operators
- Check out this FAA list of nearly 700 test centers to find the one nearest you
- What you need to know about Part 107 — Drone Law Blog