The Basics of Commercial Drone Rules

It’s an exciting time for drones in the US (and the rest of the world, frankly).  New rules and regulations went into effect in late August that officially open the door for commercial drone operations. To get a commercial drone license – known as a “Remote Pilot Certificate” – from the FAA, you need to meet a few criteria:

  • Be 16 years old,
  • Be able to read and speak English,
  • Pass the FAA Unmanned Aircraft knowledge exam, and
  • Pass a TSA background clearance.

Here is a quick video we put together on getting your Remote Pilot Certificate.


The Old Rules (Section 333 Exemptions)

Previously, if you wanted to fly drones commercially, you first had to have some type of pilot’s license (sport pilot, private pilot, etc. – a license to fly traditional aircraft), and then you had to have a special exemption from the FAA called a Section 333 exemption.  Getting a pilot’s license costs several thousand dollars and at least a few weeks to a few months’ worth of training, and the 333 exemption took at least three months to receive after you applied.  A very costly and time consuming process to go through if you are starting from scratch.


The New Rules (Part 107)

Then enters “Part 107“.  This new rule, which became effective on August 28, 2016, replaced the old pilot’s license requirement with the new requirement of a Remote Pilot Certificate (more specifically, a “Remote Pilot certificate with a small UAS rating).  On top of that, prospective drone operators now no longer need any special exemptions or approvals from the FAA in order to fly.  All you need to do is get your Remote Pilot certificate, get a drone, and start flying (granted, still following all of the rules laid out in Part 107).

There are a number of requirements and limitations with the new laws, but here are some of the rules…


Part 107 Snapshot

  • You can’t fly higher than 400 feet above ground level (with some exceptions)
  • Speed limit is 100 MPH
  • You have to be able to physically SEE your drone at all times (no telescopes or binoculars allowed)
  • Know what airspace you are in.  Some airspace is restricted and others require prior permission.
  • No flying at night

If you’re ready to jump into the world of commercial drones, feel free to check out our Remote Pilot Exam Prep Course.


Happy flying!

David Young

David Young

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