Also it’s important to note that Part 107 specifically applies only to commercial operations, and that is opposed to the two other recognized classifications of drone use, the first of which would be public use, which is governmental functions, including military, police, fire protection, border patrol and customs.
The second “other classification”, is hobby or recreational use, and that use is still governed by section 336 of public law 112 95 which will be now be Part 101 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
John: What will the new pilot qualifications be under the FAA regulations of the UAS?
Tim: This is the most significant change from the pre-existing regime – the Certificate of Authorization, or Section 333 waiver, that the FAA has been granting on a case by case basis previously for commercial drone use.
The new regulation creates a new category of operators, and it’s called the “remote pilot in command.” The requirement is that operation of a small drone may only be done by holder of a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating, or it could be done under the supervision directly of such a person.
You actually have to have an individual qualified as a remote pilot in command. To qualify for that certification, a person has to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either, number one, passing an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA approved knowledge testing center. There are about 690 of those centers nationwide, and you can go to the faa.gov website to see where those are.
The second potential way to qualify is that you hold a Part 61 pilot certificate. In other words, you’re already a licensed pilot, other than a student pilot. Even if you have that though, you have to have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months, and you have to complete a small UAS online training course which is provided by the FAA.
Part of that is going to be a delay in the August 29th implementation of people actually being able to fly drones, because even if you had a preexisting waiver, and you have a licensed pilot flying your drone, you’re still going to have to jump through these additional Part 107 qualification hoops to continue use of that drone.
The other two pieces of that qualification are – whoever the pilot in command is, he has to be approved through the transportation security administration, and he has to be at least 16 years old — which we would hope everyone was that already!
John: What operational restrictions commercially UAS use are contained in the new FAA regulations?
Tim: The operational limits imposed by Part 107 include what is, at present, the most restrictive provision – being visual line of site. In other words, you’re not going to have these autonomous drones like we’ve seen in some TV commercials just zipping around flying over people’s backyards, and over their businesses.
Visual line of site requires that the drone remains visible, unaided, meaning not using binoculars, or virtual reality goggles, or anything like that. Unaided visual line of site of the remote pilot in command at all times. That’s the most restrictive thing obviously.
There are other restrictions such as the maximum altitude for flight would be 400 feet above ground level, maximum air speed would be 100 miles an hour which sounds awfully fast to me although my ex-wife may have reached that occasionally on the interstate (I don’t have personal knowledge of that!)
Other restrictions would be daylight operations only, but with one added proviso that you can operate 30 minutes before sunrise, and up to 30 minutes after sunset provided the drone has anti-collision lighting installed.
You still cannot operate over other persons. You can’t operate under a covered structure, you can’t operate inside a covered stationary vehicle, and you can’t operate the drone from a moving vehicle.
John: Are hobbyist uses also regulated under the new FAA regime?
Tim: They are not, John. As I mentioned previously, hobbyist uses are not addressed at Part 107, and are still subject to section 336 of public law 112 95, what is going to be codified at Part 101 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.