The FAA released their permanent rules for non‐hobbyist small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) operation, referred to as Part 107, on Tuesday, June 21. These permanent rules go in effect on August 29, 2016. Part 107 covers a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds (take‐off weight). “The following are examples of possible small UAS operations that can be conducted under the framework in this rule”:
- Crop monitoring/inspection
- Research and development
- Educational/academic uses
A few highlights (from the 624 pages of the rule):
- NO LONGER need medical certification (Class 2 was required for COA)!
- NO LONGER need to take the ‘Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test’
- Does require a remote pilot airman (RPA) certificate with a small UAS rating which WILL REQUIRE you pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA‐approved knowledge testing center, OR, you can be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate.
- Vetted by TSA
- Minimum age 16
Operation requires a certified remote pilot in command (RPIC), however, a visual observer (VO) is optional.
Visual line‐of‐sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer. (Our interpretation, NOT the FAA’s, is that the pilot can fly ‘first person view’ (FPV) if observer has eyes on aircraft. Also, pilot can fly around obstacles and lose VLOS if observer can still see aircraft.).
- Maximum flight altitude 400’ above ground level (AGL)
- Operations within Class G airspace without air traffic control (ATC) permission
- Daylight‐only operations with appropriate anti‐collision lighting
- May not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation (opinion: this will be an issue for demonstrations)
- Can fly a drone while you’re in a moving car or truck provided the drone is in a “sparsely populated area.”
- FAA airworthiness certification not required
- Aircraft (>0.55lbs) must be registered with FAA
Hobby/recreational users will continue to follow Model Aircraft Special Operating Standards.
- Summary of hobby use topics (FAA)
- Frequently asked questions about hobby use
- Model Aircraft Operating Standards 91‐57A (Jan. 11, 2016)
- FAA Memorandum (May 4, 2016) on ‘Educational Use of UAS’ (PDF)
- Part 107 Complete (PDF)
- Part 107 Fact Sheet
- Part 107 Summary
- On‐line course to study for Part 107 sUAS exam
- sUAS Registration (Part 107 and Hobby)
- UAS in Agric. LN webinar (6/21/2016)
Drafted by eXtension UAS in Agriculture Learning Network members:
- Dr. James Robbins – University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
- Victor Villegas – Oregon State University
- Dr. Wayne Woldt – University of Nebraska
- Dennis Hinkamp – Utah State University
- Dr. Dharmendra Saraswat – Purdue University
- Susan Buffler – Utah State University
June 28, 2016
Disclaimer: This handout summarizes particular aspects of the full Rule, which goes into effect Aug. 29, 2016. It is for educational purposes only and not meant to provide legal or regulatory advice for the safe and legal operation of any small unmanned aerial system. It is the responsibility of the small unmanned aerial system user to read, understand and follow all items covered in this Rule. Users are also subject to state & local laws in which they operate.