In most places, commercial drone operation requires certification; and in the United States, that’s a Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA.) Many drone purchasers, however, are unaware of the existing laws that apply to drone operation. Offering clarity and emphasizing safety, the FAA has published a Fact Sheet about Part 107 Requirements. (The Fact Sheet can be found here, the full text of Part 107 is published online here.)
A rash of recent reports blaming drones for interfering with manned aircraft has led to concerns that a few rogue operators may cause already strict regulations to tighten. Licensed commercial drone operators and advocacy organizations have called repeatedly for the FAA to take prompt enforcement action against careless operators.
The FAA’s Part 107 Fact Sheet provides a brief summary of the “highlights of the rule,” according to the FAA. The Fact Sheet may provide a tool for enforcement agencies to know when operators are breaking the law.
While most operators with even a cursory knowledge of the regulations are aware of the 400 foot altitude maximum (higher if you are within 400 feet of a structure), some may not be aware that First Person View (FPV) technology requires a second visual observer, or that drone delivery, per se, is actually fully legal as long as you don’t break any other rules. (“You also may transport property for compensation or hire within state boundaries provided the drone, including its attached systems, payload and cargo, weighs less than 55 pounds total and you obey the other flight rules. (Some exceptions apply to Hawaii and the District of Columbia.)”)
The Fact Sheet also addresses the new news for drone operators: information about the LAANC system (including how to pronounce it – “LANCE.”) “In March 2018, the FAA announced it is expanding tests of the LAANC automated system,” says the Fact Sheet. “The agency will now conduct a nationwide beta test beginning April 30 that will deploy LAANC incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering approximately 500 airports. The final deployment will begin on September 13.”
While the approximately 800 word Fact Sheet does not come close to explaining all of the facets of Part 107, it does attempt to emphasize to new operators that they must register their drones and learn the rules – which is not news to responsible flyers, but could help educate potential unwitting lawbreakers.