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Category - General
Posted - 01/19/2018 02:42pm
Know the Rules before you Fly!
As drone pilots we often get questioned or involved in discussions about the rules for flying sUAS. 
It's really pretty amazing what I hear, not just from the general public but even from other RC and UAS pilots, and it never ceases to amaze me how willing they are to share, and how adamantly they will defend their limited, and somewhat dangerous, lack of knowledge. 

In the past month alone I had had people tell me these very frightening (and incorrect) "facts":

  • You can fly drones at night, as long as you have lights.
  • You can fly FPV (first person view, i.e., using VR goggles) without an observer.
  • As long as you can see what the drone sees (through the camera), you can fly it as far away as you want.
  • Drones have to fly under 400' and planes have to fly over 500' so drones and planes never share the same airspace. (perhaps the most frightening of them all)
  • You can fly 400' over the highest point around you (oh boy...)
  • I don't need to be certified if I am just selling the images & video I take

While none of those statements above hold any truth, here are real answers to some of the most common questions:

Who needs to be certified?

Anyone operating any sUAS for hire. Under Part 107, every commercial drone operator needs to be certified by the FAA before they fly over a job site, mine, farm, or any other commercial property. If you are flying your Drone for hire or even for your own in-house commercial use, you must be certified. 

Do you need to Register Your Aircraft?

Every aircraft weighing between .55 lbs (250 grams) and 55 lbs (25 kg) needs to be registered with the FAA.

How far away can you fly?

If you can't see it, it's not legal. You must, or you must have a visual observer in direct communication with you who can maintain a visual line of sight at all times. Any time you fly commercially, you have to keep the UAV within visual line of sight (VLOS). If using First Person View (FPV) or other similar technology, you must also have a visual observer on site to keep an eye on the vehicle without the use of a visual aid (like binoculars).

When can you fly?

You are able to fly during daylight or twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting. 

What about Weather?

Minimum weather visibility is three miles from your control station.

How High can you fly?

The maximum allowable altitude for any drone is 400 feet above ground level (AGL). There are exceptions if your drone remains within 400 feet of a building (or structure) the pilot in command is operating from. The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 knots).

Steer Clear of People

You can't fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation at the time. You also can't fly the aircraft from under a covered structure, nor from inside a covered stationary vehicle.

Of course, there are a number of other regulations you must follow to be fully compliant and legal. Know the rules before you fly!
FAA Summary of Part 107 Certification 

Here's a good post from our friends at Drone Deploy that summarizes the basics of flying your drone for hire.

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