FAQs on Flying a Commercial UAS (Drone) Legally*

Who is the governing authority for commercial drone operations?

The FAA is the governing body authorizing all drone (UAS or UAV) flight operations in the United States. There are new regulations that became effective on August 29, 2016, for operating a drone in the United States . Please consult the FAA for complete UAS rules.

 

What is the legal definition of commercial drone (UAS) usage and what FAA laws govern them?

Specifically, commercial operations (defined as anytime you are operating a UAS in furtherance of a business, even if there is no direct compensation, including videography/photography, real estate, inspections, or farming-related flights) will fall under the commercial portion of Part 107 in the FAA rules.

 

Can you outline some of the specifies of the new commercial drone (UAS) laws under FAA Part 107?

Here is an abbreviated explanation of the Part 107 rules. As a client, please remember that the drone company you hire must have the required paperwork and licenses to be a commercial drone operator. You (as the client) could be held liable for any FAA flight violations, such as flying over nonparticipating people, incursions into controlled air-space, or any possible accidents to persons

or property.

 

  • The drone operator (pilot) must possess an FAA-issued remote pilot airmen certificate with a small UAS (drone) rating (see website on obtaining this license). Ask for a copy of the certificate from your operator.
  • The drone must weigh under fifty-five pounds.
  • Your operator must not operate the drone higher than 400 feet above ground level or within 400 feet of a structure.
  • The operator can only fly during daylight hours or twilight hours (thirty minutes before official sunrise to thirty minutes after official sunset, local time).
  • The drone pilot must keep the drone in unaided visual sight without the use of devices such as binoculars.
  • The drone operator must fly under the minimum weather visual flight rule of three-mile visibility (check FAA-sanctioned local weather websites or contact a flight service station by phone for current and forecasted minimums).
  • The maximum speed your drone can fly is 87 knots (100 mph).
  • You may not operate a small unmanned aircraft directly over another person unless that person is directly involved in the operation (such as a visual observer or other crew member) OR within a safe cover, such as inside a stationary vehicle or a structure that would protect a person from harm if the small unmanned aircraft were to crash into that structure. The only exception to this is if the commercial operator you are hiring holds a certificate of waiver Part 107.39. If you plan to fly near or over people other than the crew, ask your operator to show you the waiver. Otherwise, you, as a client, can be liable if a person is injured.
  • No drone operations are permitted from a moving vehicle or under a covered structure.
  • Operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspace need ATC approval. Refer to local FAA aeronautical charts and review any TFRs.
  • For any operation in Class B, C, and D airspaces and within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of a Class E airspace designated for an airport, the remote Pilots in Command (PIC) is required to contact the FAA though a web-based portal within 90 days prior to any operation. Refer to FAA aeronautical charts to determine the height and diameter of all nearby Class B, C, and D airspaces.
  • All drones must be registered with the FAA.
  • You must report to the FAA within ten days any operation that results in serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage (to property other than the UAS) of at least $500.

 

Is there a government website that I can obtain more details and the latest laws?

Yes. The complete FAA rules can be found here.

 

What about state or local privacy laws?

Have your operator review all local and state laws, including privacy laws, prior to the scheduled flight.

 

If I hire a drone operator, how do I know the operator is fully insured in case of an accident or FAA violation?

Ask to see a copy of your operator’s UAS liability insurance policy. Normally, the insurance company will be happy to forward you a copy. Wings Videos USA® has a base-level liability insurance policy of one million dollars.

 

*These are just some of the laws governing commercial UAS (drone) operation in the United States. More information can be found in the FAA’s latest FAR/AIM (Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information) publication.

 

The suggestions above are meant as an introduction to some of the laws that UAS operators must follow; they are not meant to be comprehensive. We do not offer legal advice. Consult the FAA or an attorney versed in FAA law for complete and up-to-date laws to protect your UAS business or UAS usage.

 

 

 

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