The benefits of commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are substantial. Technology has moved forward rapidly, and what used to be considered toys are quickly becoming powerful commercial tools that can provide enormous benefits in terms of safety and efficiency.

However, the very characteristics that make UAS so promising for commercial and noncommercial uses, including their small size, maneuverability and capacity to carry various kinds of recording or sensory devices, can raise privacy concerns.

The new rules for non-hobbyist small unmanned aircraft (UAS) operations – Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (PDF) – cover a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Here are the highlights of the new rule.

 Privacy

Although the new rule does not specifically deal with privacy issues in the use of drones, and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property, the FAA is acting to address privacy considerations in this area. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography.

As part of a privacy education campaign, the agency will provide all drone users with recommended privacy guidelines as part of the UAS registration process and through the FAA’s B4UFly mobile app. The FAA also will educate all commercial drone pilots on privacy during their pilot certification process; and will issue new guidance to local and state governments on drone privacy issues. The FAA’s effort builds on the privacy “best practices” (PDF) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration published last month as the result of a year-long outreach initiative with privacy advocates and industry.  

You can fly during daylight or in twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting. Minimum weather visibility is three miles from your control station. The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet above the ground, and higher if your drone remains within 400 feet of a structure. The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 knots).

UAS Certification

You are responsible for ensuring a drone is safe before flying, but the FAA does not require small UAS to comply with current agency airworthiness standards or obtain aircraft certification.Instead, the remote pilot will simply have to perform a preflight visual and operational check of the small UAS to ensure that safety-pertinent systems are functioning properly.  This includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. The UAS must also be registered.

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Pilot Certification

To operate the controls of a small UAS under Part 107, you need a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate
You must be at least 16 years old to qualify for a remote pilot certificate:

  • You may pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
  • If you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, you must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and you must take a small UAS online training course provided by the FAA.

Read More: Federal Aviation Administration

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