New FAA Rules in Effect: Good News for Commercial Drone Operators

September 7th, 2016 Jump to Comment Section 2
New FAA Rules in Effect: Good News for Commercial Drone Operators

Three years after the DJI Phantom 1 took to the skies and two years after they were banned from all national parks, the Federal Aviation Administration in the US has issued a new set of FAA rules on the piloting of “unmanned aerial systems” a.k.a “drones”. Find out below how you can get certified as a commercial operator. 

DJI Phantom 2 in Mongolia. Picture Credit: Graham Sheldon

DJI Phantom 2 in Mongolia. Picture Credit: Graham Sheldon 

The new FAA rules are long. Very long. So, we did all the reading so you don’t have to. If you have a free hour to go through it all, though, you can review the new guidelines yourself HERE.

For the most part, the rules are all good news for professional drone operators shooting video or photos. To begin flying commercially you will need to:

  1. Register Your Aircraft: HERE. The cost is $5.00.
  2. Affix your aircraft with the provided registration number.
  3. Pass a TEST with at least a 70% score at one of these FAA approved testing centers. You will need to take a refresher exam every two years to continue operating. The cost to take the exam is $150.00.
  4. Once you pass the test, you’ll need to fill out FAA Form 8710-13 for pilot certification HERE.
  5. Pass TSA security background check. This may take 48 hours.
  6. After several weeks, your new FAA UAS flight certificate will arrive in your mail clearing you for commercial operation.

Some of the FAA Rules and In-Flight Operation Guidelines:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Drone must be operating in class G airspace.
  • 100 mph groundspeed limit.
  • Aircraft cannot exceed 400 feet.
  • You cannot operate two aircraft at the same time.
  • Must maintain line of sight of aircraft during flight.
  • Aircraft, with payload, must weigh less than 55lbs.
  • No flying during nighttime.
  • You may operate from a moving vehicle only in sparsely populated areas.

Note: This list is not exhaustive and only covers key points. Check HERE for entire ruling.

Drones, or unmanned aerial systems, have a sordid history of crashing according to YouTube, and there are now specific FAA rules for crashes that cause significant damage or injury:  “Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.”

faa rules

A designated “No Drone Zone” in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Picture: Graham Sheldon

“The FAA forecasts there could be as many as 600,000 unmanned aircraft used commercially during the first year after this rule is in place.” FAA Administrator – Michael Huerta

While dodging 600,000 unmanned aircraft doesn’t sound appealing, this new ruling does finally gives professional operators the peace of mind knowing that they are operating within a defined legal set of boundaries while filming in the United States. Helpful for insurance reasons too, these rules also remove any ambiguity for producers looking to hire certified commercial drone operators for their next production.

Do you fly only for fun? Then ignore the above and look HERE for rules that apply to hobbyist operators.

What do you think of the new rules? Too strict, or not strict enough? Comment below. 

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