What is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)?

A UAS is defined as “an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft” (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)). A small UAS, as defined by statute, is an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(6)) and equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft.

I own a toy drone. Is it a UAS?

Yes. Congress defines a “model aircraft” as an unmanned aircraft that meets all of the following:

  • Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
  • Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
  • Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes

What is Part 107?

Part 107, also referred to as the Small UAS Rule, is a rule that will add a new part 107 to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) to allow for routine civil operation of small UAS in the NAS and to provide safety rules for those operations. This rule will replace the Section 333 Exemption requirement for commercial UAS operators.

How do I fly a UAS for work or business purposes?

There are three ways to operate UAS commercially (i.e. for work or business):

  • Following the requirements in the Part 107 Rule
  • Following the rules in an existing Section 333 grant of exemption
  • Obtain an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft

I am part of a Federal/State/local government office – how can I fly a UAS to support a specific mission e.g. search and rescue?

You may either operate under the Part 107 rule, or you may apply for a public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for certain operations.

Do I need permission from the FAA to fly a UAS for recreation or hobby?

No, but your unmanned aircraft must be registered if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs. If the aircraft is flown within five miles of an airport, you must notify the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower prior to flying. Also, airspace regulations may apply to the area you are operating in, which may require approval from the FAA to operate in those areas.

Does the new Small UAS Rule (part 107) apply to recreational UAS operations?

Part 107 does not apply to UAS flown strictly for fun (hobby or recreational purposes) as long as these unmanned aircraft are flown in accordance with the FAA’s Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of P.L. 112-95).

How much does it cost to get a remote pilot certificate?

The FAA anticipates that a knowledge testing center will charge approximately $150.

How can I tell what class of airspace I’m in?

For reference, aeronautical charts and a Chart User’s Guide are available on the FAA’s website. These charts are the FAA’s official source of airspace classifications. You can also learn how to safely navigate UAS in controlled airspace by attending one of our UAS training courses.

Why do I need to register my UAS?

Federal law requires that all aircraft (which includes UAS) flown outdoors must be registered with the FAA and marked with a registration number. UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds may register online. The weight limit includes everything on board or attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff.

How much does it cost to register my UAS?

Unmanned aircraft flown for work or business must be registered individually, and each registration costs $5.

Is there a penalty for failing to register?

Failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

What can I do if I see someone flying a drone in a reckless or irresponsible manner?

Flying a drone in a reckless manner is a violation of Federal law and FAA regulations and could result in civil fines or criminal action. If you see something that could endanger other aircraft or people on the ground, contact local law enforcement.

Avion is an FAA-approved commercial UAS operator, authorized to fly unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States.
Click here for Section 333 Exemption.

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