What are the safety guidelines for sUAS  recreational users?

  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport. (Read about best practices here)
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.

What is a commercial use of UAS?

Any commercial use in connection with a business, including:

  • Selling photos or videos taken from a UAS
  • Using UAS to provide contract services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
  • Using UAS to provide professional services, such as security or telecommunications
  • Using UAS to monitor the progress of work your company is performing

What are some examples of commercial uses of UAS?

  • Professional real estate or wedding photography
  • Professional cinema photography for a film or television production
  • Providing contract services for mapping or land surveys

What requirements do I need to meet to fly commercially?

Remote Pilot requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of someone holding a remote pilot airman certificate
  • Must pass the applicable Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting

UAS requirements:

  • Must weigh less than 55 lbs.*
  • Must undergo pre-flight check by remote pilot in command (a.k.a. you or the person supervising the operation)

Location requirements (click here for more details on these airspace classes):

  • Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required Air Traffic Controller (ATC) permission
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission

If I meet all the requirements to fly commercially, what arethe operating rules?

(For a more detailed summary, click here.)

  • Must fly under 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if flying at an altitude higher than 400 feet AGL, stay within 400 feet of a structure
  • Must keep the UAS in sight (i.e. visual line of sight), either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer*
  • Must fly during daylight hours* or civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must not fly over people*
  • Must not fly from a moving vehicle unless you are in a sparsely populated area*

*If you want to operate UAS for commercial purposes outside of these rules, you may apply for a certificate of waiver. The FAA will grant waivers if operation can be performed safely but may otherwise not be allowed under Part 107.