Understanding Commercial Drone Regulations
You just bought a drone. And now you’re ready to put it to work.
Not too fast. Before flying a drone commercially, you must first become certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Luckily, there is a clear path that every person or company can follow, and it’s laid out in the FAA’s Part 107 Rule. All drone operators must follow Part 107 if they plan to use their drone to make money.
Let’s break down what this means for you and any member of your company who wants to become a commercial drone operator.
What Is the Part 107 Rule?
“Part 107” refers to Part 107 of Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations published by the FAA. This rule provides a regulatory framework that every drone pilot must follow in order to commercially fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone. This rule includes operational limitations, pilot responsibilities, and aircraft requirements.
What Does Part 107 Mean For Commercial Businesses?
Under Part 107, every commercial drone operator in your company will need to be certified by the FAA before they fly over a job site, mine, farm, or other commercial property. You’re also required to remain compliant with Part 107 regulations at all times (more on this below).
Getting Part 107 Certified
Getting your Part 107 certification is pretty straightforward. Follow these three steps to obtain Part 107 Certification and get the green light to operate commercially:
Training for the Part 107 Knowledge Test
Like any test, you will need to study for the Part 107 knowledge exam. There are a variety of training courses online to choose from, but we’ve narrowed down some trusted resources to consider below:
DARTdrones offers a comprehensive online prep course for Part 107. Built by top U.S. military pilots for busy professionals with little-to-no drone experience, this is serious Part 107 exam preparation for a team of any size.
Remote Pilot 101
Remote Pilot 101 is an online Part 107 training course. Designed by a lifelong pilot and author, this 10 video course is another option for training to pass the Part 107 Certification exam.
After passing the Part 107 exam, you’re required to remain within FAA compliance any time you take to the sky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you kick off your drone business, or implement drones at your company.
US Airspace Restrictions and Authorization
Planning a flight operation is the most important step in complying with FAA guidelines. You must be sure to take airspace restrictions into consideration at all times.
To evaluate the airspace for a mission, you will need to reference a validated airspace map. It’s up to the pilot in command (PIC) to ensure the flight is in operating within legal airspace. If your job requires operation in a restricted airspace — or at night — you will need to submit a waiver request to the FAA before you take off. If a waiver is required, you must submit in advance and await authorization. Keep in mind that this can take 60–90 days to complete.
You can use tools such as Airmap, Skyward and Flyte to assist your flight planning. These services provide up-to-date restrictions and maps that makes flight planning more efficient. All are available in the DroneDeploy App Market.
Learn More About FAA Airspace Restrictions and Waivers
- For more detailed information about airspace classifications and categories, review the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
- Review the FAA’s guide to airspace restrictions
- Read about Part 107 airspace waivers and how they work
- Learn about the Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) now available through Skyward and Airmap.
Register Your Aircraft
Every aircraft weighing between .55 lbs (250 grams) and 55 lbs (25 kg) owned and operated by your company needs to be registered with the FAA. Be sure to mark your UAV with your registration number once you have completed this process.
You can register your aircraft with the FAA here.
Maintain Visual Line of Sight
Any time you fly commercially, you have to keep the UAV within visual line of sight (VLOS). If using First Person View (FPV) or other similar technology, you must also have a visual observer on site to keep an eye on the vehicle without the use of a visual aid — such as binoculars — to ensure nothing unexpected happens, such as crashing into a plane.
You are able to fly during daylight or twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting. Minimum weather visibility is three miles from your control station.
Don’t Fly Too High (or Too Fast)
While your drone may be capable of flying higher, the maximum allowable altitude for any drone is 400 feet above ground level (AGL). There are exceptions if your drone remains within 400 feet of a building (or structure) the pilot in command is operating from. The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 knots).
Steer Clear of People
You can’t fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation at the time. You also can’t fly the aircraft from under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle. Operations from a moving vehicle are prohibited unless you are flying over a sparsely populated area.
Where to Learn More
Getting Part 107 Certified is the first step to flying drones commercially. If you’re looking to start your own drone service business, or set up a drone program at your company, make sure to checkout our free resources.
- Read our guide to starting a commercial drone business. It’s the ultimate guide for surviving and thriving in the world of drones for hire. Download it here.
- Starting a drone operation at your company? Get a copy of our eBook Preparing for Takeoff to get answers to all your questions about implementing your in-house drone program.
- Check out our free webinar series to learn from drone pros across industries.
Get Started with DroneDeploy
Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.