A remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a small unmanned aircraft system:
(a) The groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).
(b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:
(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and
(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.
(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 statute miles. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted
objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.
(d) The minimum distance of the small unmanned aircraft from clouds must be no less than:
(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and
(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
5.10 Operating Limitations for Small UA. The small UA must be operated in accordance with the following limitations:
• Cannot be flown faster than a groundspeed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour);
• Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL), unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit;
• Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the CS, may not be less than 3 statute miles (sm); and
• Minimum distance from clouds being no less than 500 feet below a cloud and no less than 2000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
Note: These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot’s ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take the appropriate actions to maintain safety.
5.10.1 Determining Groundspeed. There are many different types of sUAS and different ways to determine groundspeed. Therefore, this guidance will only touch on some of the possible ways for the remote PIC to ensure that the small UA does not exceed a groundspeed of 87 knots during flight operations. Some of the possible ways to ensure that 87 knots is not exceeded are as follows:
• Installing a Global Positioning System (GPS) device on the small UA that reports groundspeed information to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot takes into account the wind direction and speed and calculates the small UA airspeed for a given direction of flight, or
• Timing the groundspeed of the small UA when it is flown between two or more fixed points, taking into account wind speed and direction between each point, then noting the power settings of the small UA to operate at or less than 87 knots groundspeed, or
• Using the small UA’s manufacturer design limitations (e.g., installed groundspeed limiters).
5.10.2 Determining Altitude. In order to comply with the maximum altitude requirements of part 107, as with determining groundspeed, there are multiple ways to determine a small UA’s altitude above the ground or structure. Some possible ways for a remote pilot to determine altitude are as follows:
• Installing a calibrated altitude reporting device on the small UA that reports the small UA altitude above mean sea level (MSL) to the remote pilot, wherein the remote pilot subtracts the MSL elevation of the CS from the small UA reported MSL altitude to determine the small UA AGL altitude above the terrain or structure;
• Installing a GPS device on the small UA that also has the capability of reporting MSL altitude to the remote pilot;
• With the small UA on the ground, have the remote pilot and VO pace off 400 feet from the small UA to get a visual perspective of the small UA at that distance, wherein the remote pilot and VO maintain that visual perspective or closer while the small UA is in flight; or
• Using the known height of local rising terrain and/or structures as a reference.
5.10.3 Visibility and Distance from Clouds. Once the remote PIC and VO have been able to reliably establish the small UA AGL altitude, it is incumbent on the remote PIC to determine that visibility from the CS is at least 3 sm and that the small UA is kept at least 500 feet below a cloud and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud. One of the ways to ensure adherence to the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements is to obtain local aviation weather reports that include current and forecast weather conditions. If there is more than one local aviation reporting station near the operating area, the remote PIC should choose the closest one that is also the most representative of the terrain surrounding the operating area. If local aviation weather reports are not available, then the remote PIC may not operate the small UA if he or she is not able to determine the required visibility and cloud clearances by other reliable means. It is imperative that the UA not be operated above any cloud, and that there are no obstructions to visibility, such as smoke or a cloud, between the UA and the remote PIC.
In accordance with 14 CFR part 107, except when within a 400 foot radius of a structure, at what maximum altitude can you operate sUAS?
(14 CFR part 107.51)
You don't need permission from the FAA to fly your UAS (aka drone) for fun or recreation, but you must always fly safely, and adhere to the guidelines of AC 91-57A
Before you fly outside you must:
You must be:
* Visiting foreign nationals must register their UAS upon arrival in the United States (online registration serves as a certificate of ownership).
Which of the following types of operations are excluded from the requirements in part 107?
(14 CFR parts 101.41 and 107.1)
Public aircraft means any of the following aircraft when not being used for a commercial purpose or to carry an individual other than a crewmember or qualified non-crewmenber:
(1) An aircraft used only for the United States Government; an aircraft owned by the Government and operated by any person for purposes related to crew training, equipment development, or demonstration; an aircraft owned and operated by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments; or an aircraft exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments.
(i) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, commercial purposes means the transportation of persons or property for compensation or hire, but does not include the operation of an aircraft by the armed forces for reimbursement when that reimbursement is required by any Federal statute, regulation, or directive, in effect on November 1, 1999, or by one government on behalf of another government under a cost reimbursement agreement if the government on whose behalf the operation is conducted certifies to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration that the operation is necessary to respond to a significant and imminent threat to life or property (including natural resources) and that no service by a private operator is reasonably available to meet the threat.
(ii) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, governmental function means an activity undertaken by a government, such as national defense, intelligence missions, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement (including transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens), aeronautical research, or biological or geological resource management.
(iii) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, qualified non-crewmember means an individual, other than a member of the crew, aboard an aircraft operated by the armed forces or an intelligence agency of the United States Government, or whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function.
(2) An aircraft owned or operated by the armed forces or chartered to provide transportation to the armed forces if—
(i) The aircraft is operated in accordance with title 10 of the United States Code;
(ii) The aircraft is operated in the performance of a governmental function under title 14, 31, 32, or 50 of the United States Code and the aircraft is not used for commercial purposes; or
(iii) The aircraft is chartered to provide transportation to the armed forces and the Secretary of Defense (or the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating) designates the operation of the aircraft as being required in the national interest.
(3) An aircraft owned or operated by the National Guard of a State, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States, and that meets the criteria of paragraph (2) of this definition, qualifies as a public aircraft only to the extent that it is operated under the direct control of the Department of Defense.
Government entities or organizations (e.g. law enforcement agencies, public universities, state governments, local municipalities) have 2 options for flying UAS:
Obtain a blanket public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) – permits nationwide flights in Class G airspace at or below 400 feet, self-certification of the UAS pilot, and the option to obtain emergency COAs (e-COAs) under special circumstances
This subpart applies to the operation of all civil small unmanned aircraft systems subject to this part.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may manipulate the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system unless:
(1) That person has a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to Subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of § 107.65; or
(2) That person is under the direct supervision of a remote pilot in command and the remote pilot in command has the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the small unmanned aircraft.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may act as a remote pilot in command unless that person has a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to Subpart C of this part and satisfies the requirements of § 107.65.
(c) The Administrator may, consistent with international standards, authorize an airman to operate a civil foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft without an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
This subpart prescribes the requirements for issuing a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
(a) A conviction for the violation of any Federal or State statute relating to the growing, processing, manufacture, sale, disposition, possession, transportation, or importation of narcotic drugs, marijuana, or depressant or stimulant drugs or substances is grounds for:
(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of final conviction; or
(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
(1) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that act; or
(2) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
A refusal to submit to a test to indicate the percentage by weight of alcohol in the blood, when requested by a law enforcement officer in accordance with § 91.17(c) of this chapter, or a refusal to furnish or authorize the release of the test results requested by the Administrator in accordance with § 91.17(c) or (d) of this chapter, is grounds for:
(a) Denial of an application for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating for a period of up to 1 year after the date of that refusal; or
(b) Suspension or revocation of a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
Subject to the provisions of §§ 107.57 and 107.59, in order to be eligible for a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating under this subpart, a person must:
(a) Be at least 16 years of age;
(b) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, the FAA may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the small unmanned aircraft;
(c) Not know or have reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small unmanned aircraft system; and
(d) Demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by satisfying one of the following conditions:
(1) Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73(a); or
(2) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56, complete an initial training course covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.74(a) in a manner acceptable to the Administrator.
6.3 Eligibility. A person applying for a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating must meet and maintain the following eligibility requirements, as applicable:
• Be at least 16 years of age.
• Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. However, the FAA may make an exception if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, such as a hearing impairment.
• Be in a physical and mental condition that would not interfere with the safe operation of an sUAS.
• Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center (KTC). However, a person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61, except a student pilot certificate, and has successfully completed a flight review in accordance with part 61 within the previous 24 calendar-months is only required to successfully complete a part 107 online training course, found at www.faasafety.gov. For more information concerning aeronautical knowledge tests and training, see paragraph 6.6.
A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft system unless that person has completed one of the following, within the previous 24 calendar months:
(a) Passed an initial aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73(a);
(b) Passed a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.73(b); or
(c) If a person holds a pilot certificate (other than a student pilot certificate) issued under part 61 of this chapter and meets the flight review requirements specified in § 61.56, passed either an initial or recurrent training course covering the areas of knowledge specified in § 107.74(a) or (b) in a manner acceptable to the Administrator.
(a) The Administrator may issue a certificate of waiver authorizing a deviation from any regulation specified in § 107.205 of this subpart if the Administrator finds that a proposed small UAS operation can safely be conducted under the terms of that certificate of waiver.
(b) A request for a certificate of waiver must contain a complete description of the proposed operation and justification that establishes that the operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.
(c) The Administrator may prescribe additional limitations that the Administrator considers necessary.
(d) A person who receives a certificate of waiver issued under this section:
(1) May deviate from the regulations of this part to the extent specified in the certificate of waiver; and
(2) Must comply with any conditions or limitations that are specified in the certificate of waiver.
A certificate of waiver issued pursuant to § 107.200 of this subpart may authorize a deviation from the following regulations of this part:
107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
107.29 – Daylight operation.
107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
107.33 – Visual observer.
107.35 – Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.
107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.
107.39 – Operation over people.
107.41 – Operation in certain airspace.
107.51 – Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
5.19 Certificate of Waiver. Part 107 includes the option to apply for a Certificate of Waiver (CoW). This CoW will allow an sUAS operation to deviate from certain provisions of part 107 if the Administrator finds that the proposed operation can be safely conducted under the terms of that CoW. A list of the waivable sections of part 107 can be found in § 107.205 and are listed below:
• Section 107.25, Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
• Section 107.29, Daylight operation.
• Section 107.31, Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
• Section 107.33, Visual observer.
• Section 107.35, Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.
• Section 107.37(a), Yielding the right of way.
• Section 107.39, Operation over people.
• Section 107.41, Operation in certain airspace.
• Section 107.51, Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
5.19.1 Applying for a CoW. To apply for a CoW under § 107.200, an applicant must go to www.faa.gov/uas/ and follow the instructions.
5.19.2 Application Process. The application must contain a complete description of the proposed operation and a justification, including supporting data and documentation (as necessary), that establishes that the proposed operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a CoW. Although not required by part 107, the FAA encourages applicants to submit their application at least 90 days prior to the start of the proposed operation. The FAA will strive to complete review and adjudication of waivers within 90 days; however, the time required for the FAA to make a determination regarding waiver requests will vary based on the complexity of the request. The amount of data and analysis required as part of the application will be proportional to the specific relief that is requested. For example, a request to waive several sections of part 107 for an operation that takes place in a congested metropolitan area with heavy air traffic will likely require significantly more data and analysis than a request to waive a single section for an operation that takes place in a sparsely-populated area with minimal air traffic. If a CoW is granted, that certificate may include specific special provisions designed to ensure that the sUAS operation may be conducted as safely as one conducted under the provisions of part 107. A listing of standard special provisions for part 107 waivers will be available on the FAA’s Web site.
5.20 Supplemental Operational Information. Appendix B, Supplemental Operational Information, contains expanded information regarding operational topics that should be considered prior to operations.
FSIMS Section 3 Issue a Certificate of Waiver to the Provisions of Part 107
16-4-3-3 OBJECTIVE. This section’s task is to determine whether to issue a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 7711-1, Certificate of Waiver or Authorization, to an applicant for the specific regulations stated, to the degree and for the time period specified in the certificate. Completion of this task results in the issuance of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization or the disapproval of FAA Form 7711-2, Application for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.
16-4-3-5 GENERAL. The Certificate of Waiver does not constitute a waiver of any state law, local ordinance, or required permission of local authorities or property owners. It shall be the applicant’s responsibility to resolve issues with those agencies.
A. Waiver Provisions. The provisions of the waiver shall apply, regardless of the statements contained in the application for Certificate of Waiver. The waiver shall be considered void upon completion of the authorized Schedule of Events (SOE) or the latest time shown on the face of the Certificate of Waiver, whichever occurs earlier. All flight operations conducted under the waiver shall be limited to the area defined in the FAA‑approved application area of operations item referenced in item 8 on the FAA Form 7711-2.
B. Regulatory Authority. Flight Standards Service (AFS) has the authority to grant or deny waivers of the regulations listed in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107, § 107.205.
1) Scope of Waivers. Waivers of part 107 sections and the attendant special provisions may vary in scope depending on the regulations that an applicant requests to be waived.
2) Other Variances. Waivers will vary depending upon the type of operation and the location.
16-4-3-7 APPLICATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF WAIVER.
A. FAA Form 7711-2, Certificate of Waiver or Authorization Application. The application for a Certificate of Waiver can be obtained online
B. Instructions. Instructions for the completion of the application can be found online
16-4-3-9 COORDINATION. The Waiver application FAA Form 7711-2 will be submitted to and processed by the General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800).
16-4-5-1 GENERAL APPLICABILITY AND REQUIREMENTS. This section applies to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations conducted in the National Airspace System (NAS) other than in active restricted and warning areas designated for aviation use or approved prohibited areas. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires aircraft to operate safely among all users of the NAS, including non‑cooperative aircraft (e.g., aircraft operated without a transponder), and other airborne operations not reliably identifiable by air traffic control (ATC) radar (e.g., balloons, gliders, parachutists). Unless otherwise specifically authorized, UAS operators must use observers, either airborne or ground-based, to comply with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107 and part 91 requirements.
16-4-5-3 RISK MITIGATION. While considerable work is ongoing to develop a certifiable detect, sense, and avoid system (DSA) as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) with the “see-and-avoid” aspect of part 91, § 91.113, no current solution exists. (At a high level, DSA can be defined as: Detect-is something there? Sense-is it a threat/target? Avoid-maneuver to miss.) As a result, compliance with the see-and-avoid requirement and navigational awareness (a subset of situational awareness) are primary concerns in UAS operational approvals leading to imposition of AMOC. Risk mitigation for these two issues is normally based on the use of observers or other methods of maintaining flight separation and collision avoidance or “segregation”; however, they may also include other concepts or systems that an operator/applicant may propose for FAA review. The FAA only approves UAS flight operations that can be conducted at an Acceptable Level of Safety (ALoS). Refer to the current editions of:
- Advisory Circular (AC) 120-92, Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers.
- FAA Order VS 8000.367, Aviation Safety (AVS) Safety Management System Requirements.
- FAA Order 8000.368, Flight Standards Service Oversight.
- FAA Order 8000.369, Safety Management System.
- FAA Order VS 8000.370, Aviation Safety (AVS) Safety Policy.
- FAA Order 8040.4, Safety Risk Management Policy.
NOTE: Risk mitigations that depend on the establishment of new types and categories of airspace are extremely difficult and time consuming. The NAS is established and configured through a rigorous regulatory process. Risk mitigations that result in the prohibition of the public’s right to transit airspace will require a very long lead time with no guarantee that they will be approved.
A. See-and-Avoid Strategies. It is the operator/applicant’s responsibility to mitigate risk and ensure that the remote pilot in command (PIC), person manipulating the controls, and visual observer (VO) are able to see-and-avoid other aircraft and property when operating the UA.
B. Risk Mitigation Responsibility. It is the operator/applicant’s responsibility to demonstrate that the risk of injury to persons or property along the flight path is appropriately mitigated. Aircraft with performance characteristics that impede, delay, or divert other normal air traffic operations may be restricted in their operations. It is the responsibility of the aviation safety inspector (ASI) to assess these risks and consider them when developing work programs. The Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) should create work programs based on the areas of highest risk levels consistent with the FAA guidance on risk-based decision making to control risk to the lowest acceptable levels.
16-4-5-5 SYSTEM CONSIDERATIONS FOR UAS.
A. Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS). The use of TCAS by UAS has not been validated as an acceptable alternative for see-and-avoid requirements, and is not an approved means of mitigation for UAS see-and-avoid requirements or strategies.
B. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). A precise satellite-based surveillance system. ADS-B OUT uses Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to determine an aircraft’s location, airspeed, and other data, and broadcasts that information to a network of ground stations, which relay the data to ATC displays and to nearby aircraft equipped to receive the data via ADS-B IN.
C. Onboard Cameras/Sensors. Although onboard cameras and sensors positioned to observe targets on the ground have demonstrated some capability, their use in detecting airborne operations for the purpose of segregation is still quite limited. To date, these types of systems have not been approved as a sole mitigation in the see-and-avoid risk assessment.
D. Use of Equipment in Lieu of VOs.
1) Any equipment proposed for use on UAS to accomplish the function of see-and-avoid in lieu of VOs must:
a) Be certified as an aircraft system and equipment using standards, requirements, and processes commensurate with installation of equipment in aircraft by a recognized airworthiness authority.
b) Meet the requirements of 14 CFR part 25, § 25.1309, or equivalent process, for any UAS installation, regardless of its size, performance, or maximum takeoff weight (MTOW).
NOTE: For other equipment that is not proposed for use in meeting see-and-avoid requirements, 14 CFR part 23, § 23.1309, or an equivalent process, should be used. (Note: that Part 23 does not contain 23.1309 currently)
2) It is the responsibility of the operator/applicant to show that the contemplated standards, requirements, and processes meet an ALoS.
E. Radar and Other Sensors. If the operator/applicant utilizes special types of radar systems or other sensors to mitigate risk, they must provide supporting data which demonstrates the following can be accomplished safely:
1) Both cooperative and non-cooperative traffic can be detected and tracked to ensure appropriate separation and collision avoidance.
2) The proposed system can effectively mitigate a potential collision.
3) Operators are suitably trained and equipped to use them effectively.
4) Procedures are in place for the PIC to effectively use the data.
F. Lost Link Points (LLP).
1) LLPs are defined as a point, or sequence of points, where the aircraft will proceed and hold at a specified altitude, for a specified period of time, in the event the command-and-control link to the aircraft is lost. The aircraft utilize high levels of automation to hold, or loiter, at the LLP until the control link with the aircraft is restored or the specified time elapses. If the time period elapses, the aircraft may autoland, proceed to another LLP in an attempt to regain the control link, or proceed to a Flight Termination Point (FTP) for flight termination. LLPs may be used as FTPs. In this case, the aircraft may loiter at the LLP/FTP until link is reestablished or fuel exhaustion occurs.
2) For areas where multiple or concurrent UAS operations are authorized in the same operational area, a segregation plan must be in place in the event of a simultaneous lost link scenario. The deconfliction plan may include altitude offsets and horizontal separation by using independent LLPs whenever possible.
G. Flight Termination System (FTS). It is highly desirable that all UAS have system redundancies and independent functionality to ensure the overall safety and predictability of the system. UAS that lack these characteristics may be required to have an FTS whose architecture and activation are independent of the UAS system and can be activated automatically or manually by the UAS PIC to safeguard the public.
H. Spectrum Authorization.
1) Every UAS operator must have the appropriate National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) or Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorization/approval to transmit on the radio frequencies (RF) used for UAS uplink and downlink of control, telemetry, and payload information.
2) Non-Federal public agencies, such as universities and state/local law enforcement, and all civil UAS operators generally require a license from the FCC as authorization to transmit on frequencies other than those in the unlicensed bands (900 megahertz (MHz), 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), and 5.8 GHz). This generally will be in the form of an experimental radio license or a special temporary authority (STA) issued by the FCC. Non‑Federal public agencies and civil UAS operators that operate systems using frequencies assigned to the Federal government (e.g., the Department of Defense (DOD)) must demonstrate they have the proper authorization through FCC-issued documentation.
3) DOD agencies will typically demonstrate UAS spectrum authorization through an STA issued by the NTIA or a frequency assignment in the NTIA-administered Government Master File (GMF). Authorizations issued under Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (47 CFR) part 300, in the NTIA Manual, Chapter 7, paragraph 7.11, Use of Frequencies by Certain Experimental Stations, are not appropriate for UAS operations.
4) Federal public agencies other than the DOD, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), also need an STA issued by NTIA or a frequency assignment in the NTIA-administered GMF. This is especially important for systems designed to operate on frequencies assigned to the DOD.
16-4-5-7 OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR UAS. Unless operating in an active restricted or warning area designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited areas, UAS operations must adhere to the following requirements.
A. Observer Requirement. Model aircraft and part 107 operations do not normally require the use of VOs. If the UAS operation authorization requires a VO, visual flight rules (VFR) operations may be authorized utilizing either ground-based or airborne VOs on board a dedicated chase aircraft. A VO must be positioned to assist the PIC to exercise the see-and-avoid responsibilities required by §§ 91.111 and 91.113, by scanning the area around the aircraft for potentially conflicting traffic and assisting the PIC with navigational awareness.
1) VOs must:
a) Assist the PIC in not allowing the aircraft to operate beyond the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) limit.
b) Be able to see the aircraft and the surrounding airspace sufficiently to assist the PIC with:
- Determining the unmanned aircraft’s (UA) proximity to all aviation activities and other hazards (e.g., terrain, weather, and structures);
- Exercising effective control of the UA;
- Preventing the UA from creating a collision hazard.
c) Inform the PIC before losing sufficient visual contact with the UA or previously
sighted collision hazard. This distance is predicated on the observer’s normal
NOTE: Normal vision may include use of corrective lenses, spectacles, and
contact lenses as necessary.
2) Because of field of view (FOV) and distortion issues with aids to vision such as binoculars, field glasses, night-vision devices, or telephoto lenses, these are allowed only for augmentation of the observer’s visual capability; they cannot be used as the primary means of visual contact. When using other aids to vision, VOs must use caution to ensure the aircraft remains within normal VLOS of the observer. These aids to vision are not to be confused with corrective lenses or contact lenses, which do not alter the FOV or distort vision.
3) The responsibility of ensuring the safety of flight and adequate visual range coverage to avoid any potential collisions remains with the PIC. The PIC for each UAS operation must identify a location from which the observer will perform his/her duties. This location will be selected to afford the best available view of the entire area within which the operation is to be conducted.
4) Daisy-chaining of observers to increase operational distance is not normally approved; however, an operator or applicant may provide a safety case for daisy-chaining in accordance with Volume 16, Chapter 4, Section 3, by demonstrating an acceptable level of risk to the NAS.
5) A good practice for observer(s) is to be in place 30 minutes prior to night operations to ensure dark adaptation.
B. ATC Communications Requirements.
1) Model aircraft and part 107 operations do not normally require radio equipage. If the UAS operation authorization requires radio equipage the UAS pilot must establish and maintain direct two-way radio communication with appropriate ATC facilities anytime:
a) The aircraft is being operated in Class A or D airspace (under § 91.135 or 91.129) or, when required, in Class E and G airspace (under § 91.127 or 91.126).
b) The aircraft is being operated under instrument flight rules (IFR).
c) It is stipulated under the requirements of any issued FAA waiver or authorizations.
2) It is preferred that communications between the UAS pilot and ATC be established through onboard radio equipment to provide a voice relay; however, for IFR flight this method of transmission is required.
C. Intercommunications Requirements. Any VO, sensor operator, or other person charged with providing see-and-avoid assistance must have immediate communication with the UAS PIC. If a chase aircraft is being utilized, immediate communication between the chase aircraft and the UAS PIC is required at all times. If the UAS PIC is in communication with ATC, monitoring of the ATC frequency by all UAS crewmembers (pilots, observers, and chase pilots) is recommended for shared situational and navigational awareness. However, unless it is approved for others to do so, the UAS PIC is the only crewmember that will communicate with ATC.
D. Electronic Devices. The use of electronic devices (including cell phones) is not permitted other than for mission-required usage. Use of electronic devices must not interfere with the UAS systems. The use of electronic devices (including cell phones) is not authorized for primary communication with ATC unless authorized by a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), or Special Airworthiness Certificate operating limitations.
E. Dropping Objects/Expendable Stores or Hazardous Materials (hazmat). Carriage of hazmat is prohibited under part 107. Objects may be dropped from UAs operating in accordance with part 107, § 107.23 if they do not create an undue hazard to persons or property. For operations other than part 107, if the intended UAS operation includes the carriage, dropping, or spraying of aircraft stores outside of active restricted or warning area airspace designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited areas, the operator/applicant must ensure that specific approval is listed in the COA (or Special Airworthiness Certificate operating limitations), all operational risks have been sufficiently mitigated as required by part 91 or part 107, and the hazmat requirements in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) have been met, if hazmat will be carried. The operator/applicant must provide to the FAA acceptable procedures for hung stores and loss of control link while carrying stores. A similar case must be made for hazmat carried aboard the aircraft and, if approved, will be listed in the special provision section of the COA, or Special Airworthiness Certificate operating limitations.
F. Flight Over Congested Areas. Part 107 prohibits operations over non-participants. UAS operations over non-participants may be approved under the terms of a waiver, conditions of an exemption, where the level of airworthiness allows, or in emergency or national disaster relief situations if the proposed mitigation strategies are found to be acceptable.
G. Aviation Event/Air Show. An operator is required to provide a safety case in accordance with Volume 16, Chapter 4 that demonstrates an ALoS and must receive a separate aviation event/air show waiver in accordance with this order.
H. Flight Over Heavily Trafficked Roads or Open-Air Assembly of People. UAS operations must avoid these areas, except where the level of airworthiness allows. If flight in these areas is required, the operator/applicant is required to support proposed mitigations with system safety cases that indicate the operations can be conducted safely. Additionally, it is the operator/applicant’s responsibility to demonstrate that risk of injury to persons or property along the flightpath has been mitigated to an acceptable level. UAS with performance characteristics that impede, delay, or divert other air traffic operations may be restricted in their operations. Refer to AC 120-92 and Order 8000.369.
I. Day/Night Operations.
1) Day Operations. UAS operations outside of Class A airspace, active restricted or warning areas designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited areas, will be conducted during daylight hours unless otherwise authorized.
2) Night Operations.
a) Night operations may be considered if the operator/applicant provides a safety case and sufficient mitigation to avoid collision hazards at night. Refer to § 107.29 for night operations.
b) UAS night operations are those operations that occur between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time. (This is equal to approximately 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, except in Alaska.) Remote pilots and observers should be in place 30 minutes prior to night operations to ensure dark adaptation.
J. Flights Below Class A Airspace. All UAS operations outside of active restricted/warning/Sensitive Security Information (SSI) airspace designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited areas must be conducted in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) if using ground or airborne VOs. In addition, the following weather requirements apply:
1) If on IFR flight, remain clear of clouds. This requirement does not relieve the PIC from following the ATC clearance. According to part 107, § 107.19, the PIC retains responsibility for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
2) If on a visual flight, maintain § 107.51 cloud clearances.
a) Special VFR is not permitted.
b) For chase aircraft, no less than 5 statute miles (sm) in-flight visibility.
K. Automation in UAS Operations. Although it is possible to have a completely manual (direct pilot intervention) UAS, the majority of UAS utilize high levels of automation to a certain degree. Only those UAS which have the capability of direct pilot intervention will be allowed in the NAS outside of active restricted or warning areas designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited areas. Because the pilot may be technically considered out-of-the-loop in a lost link scenario, this restriction does not apply to UAS operating under lost link.
L. Crew Resource Management (CRM). UAS crewmembers must be CRM knowledgeable. Refer to the current edition of AC 120-51, Crew Resource Management Training, for best practices in UAS operations. The PIC of a UAS must ensure no activities other than those duties required for safe flight operation are performed. No UAS crewmember may engage in any activities unrelated to those required for safe operation of the UAS during critical phases of flight such as launch/takeoff and landing/recovery.
M. Sterile Cockpit. Operators are encouraged to comply with the current edition of AC 120-71, Standard Operating Procedures for Flight Deck Crewmembers, or the FAA-recognized equivalent, for ensuring the PIC implements sterile cockpit procedures. During critical phases of flight, including all ground operations, takeoff, and landing, and all other flight operations in which safety or mission accomplishment might be compromised by distractions, no crewmember may perform any duties not required for the safe operation of the aircraft. No crewmember may engage in, nor may any PIC permit, any activity during a critical phase of flight which could distract any crewmember from the performance of his or her duties or interfere in any way with the proper conduct of those duties.
N. Operating Under IFR. (Public Aircraft Operators) Reserved.
O. Chase Aircraft Operations. The chase aircraft:
1) Must remain at a safe distance from the UA to ensure collision avoidance if a malfunction occurs.
2) Must remain close enough to the UA to provide visual detection of any conflicting aircraft and advise the PIC of the situation.
3) Must remain within radio control range of the UA to maintain appropriate signal coverage for flight control or activation of the FTS, for all operations when the UA is being flown by a pilot in the chase aircraft.
4) May be required to have communication with appropriate ATC facilities based on the operator’s application or mission profile.
5) Is not required by FAA in active restricted airspace designated for aviation use, or approved prohibited airspace.
6) Is not required for Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) if a qualified VO is on board.
7) Is not required in Class A airspace unless stipulated in the COA or Special Airworthiness Certificate operating limitations.
8) Operations must be conducted in accordance with the special provisions listed in the approved COA or Special Airworthiness Certificate operating limitations.
9) Must maintain 5 sm in-flight visibility restrictions.
a) Will not concurrently perform either observer or UAS pilot duties along with chase pilot duties unless otherwise authorized.
b) Must maintain direct voice communication with the UAS pilot.
11) Pilots operating as a formation flight will immediately notify ATC if they are using a nonstandard formation. Nonstandard formations must be preapproved by ATC. Operators will adhere to the current edition of FAA Order JO 7610.4, Special Operations, as applicable. See Volume 16, Chapter 1, Section 2, for definitions of standard and nonstandard formations.
12) Operations will not be conducted in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
13) Operations will be thoroughly planned and briefed.
14) During a lost link situation, the pilot must be notified immediately along with ATC. The chase pilot will report to ATC that the UA is performing lost link procedures as planned or if deviations are occurring.
15) Pilot will ensure safe separation with the UA, and immediately notify ATC and the UA PIC during loss of visual contact with the UA by both the chase pilot and observer, when such contact cannot be promptly reestablished. The UA PIC will either execute lost link procedures to facilitate a rejoin, recover the UA, or terminate the flight as appropriate.
P. Airspace Considerations by Airspace Designation.
NOTE: UAS operating in airspace designated as Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) airspace must comply with § 91.180. The following guidance does not apply to part 107 operations. UAS operating under part 107 must comply with § 107.41 operation in certain airspace.
1) Class A. Observers are not normally required in Class A. All UAS must be operating under IFR and on an instrument flight plan.
2) Class B. UAS operations are currently not authorized. Class B airspace contains terminal areas with the highest density of manned aircraft in the NAS. On a case-by-case basis, the FAA may consider exceptional circumstances. For public aircraft, a letter of agreement (LOA) between the affected ATC facility and the operator describing UAS segregation procedures is required. For civil aircraft, segregation procedures should be incorporated into the operating limitations. UAS operations must not impede, delay, or divert other Class B operations.
3) Class C (and All Airspace from the Surface Upward to 10,000 Feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) Within 30 NM of an Airport Listed in Part 91 Appendix D, Section 1). UAS operations approved for Class C must comply with §§ 91.130 and 91.215. Requests for operations without this equipment will be handled on a case-by-case basis and may be approved if sufficiently mitigated and a safety case has been established. For public aircraft, an LOA between the affected ATC facility and the operator describing UAS segregation procedures may be required. For civil aircraft, segregation procedures should be incorporated into the operating limitations. UAS operations must not impede, delay, or divert other Class C operations.
4) Class D. Requests for approval will be handled on a case-by-case basis and may be approved if sufficiently mitigated. UAS operations approved for Class D must comply with § 91.129. For public aircraft, an LOA between the affected ATC facility and the operator describing UAS segregation procedures may be required. For civil aircraft, segregation procedures should be incorporated into the operating limitations. UAS operations must not impede, delay, or divert other Class D operations.
5) Class E. If there is an operating ATC tower, Class D rules may apply. UAS operations approved for Class E must comply with § 91.127. For public aircraft, an LOA between the affected ATC facility and the operator describing UAS segregation procedures may be required. For civil aircraft, segregation procedures should be incorporated into the operating limitations. UAS operations must not impede, delay, or divert other Class E operations.
6) Class G. UAS operations approved for Class G must comply with § 91.126.
Q. ATC Visual Approach Clearances. The UAS PIC must not accept a visual approach clearance, an instruction to follow another aircraft by visual means, or a clearance to maintain visual separation from another aircraft.
R. In-Flight Emergencies.
1) The PIC will notify ATC of any in-flight emergency or aircraft accident as soon as practical.
2) The PIC will notify ATC of any loss of control link as soon as practical. Loss-of-control link scenarios may be handled by ATC as a reportable incident.
An application for a Certificate of Waiver, issued in accordance with 14 CFR § 107.200, must provide justification that the operation can be safely conducted by satisfying the performance-based standards listed.
The FAA may approve your application for a waiver of provisions in part 107 only when it has been determined that the proposed operation
(14 CFR parts 101.41, 107.1, 107.200 and 107.205, AC 107, small UAS, as amended)
When requesting a waiver, the required documents should be presented to the FAA at least how many days prior to the planned operation?
(AC 107, small UAS, as amended)
Air Safety Institute Interactive module: Know before you go
Aeronautical Chart User's Guide - very handy if you encounter an unfamiliar symbol on the chart
The two categories of airspace are: regulatory and nonregulatory. Within these two categories there are four types: controlled, uncontrolled, special use, and other airspace. Figure 14-1 presents a profile view of the dimensions of various classes of airspace. Also, there are excerpts from sectional charts which are discussed in Chapter 15, Navigation, that are used to illustrate how airspace is depicted.
The categories and types of airspace are dictated by the complexity or density of aircraft movements, nature of the operations conducted within the airspace, the level of safety required, and national and public interest.
Controlled airspace is a generic term that covers the different classifications of airspace and defined dimensions within which air traffic control (ATC) service is provided in accordance with the airspace classification.
Controlled airspace consists of:
Class A airspace is generally the airspace from 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) up to and including flight level (FL) 600, including the airspace overlying the waters within 12 nautical miles (NM) of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska. Unless otherwise authorized, all operation in Class A airspace is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR).
Controlled airspace that is of concern to the remote pilot is:
Class B airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 10,000 feet MSL surrounding the nation’s busiest airports in terms of airport operations or passenger enplanements. The configuration of each Class B airspace area is individually tailored, consists of a surface area and two or more layers (some Class B airspace areas resemble upside-down wedding cakes), and is designed to contain all published instrument procedures once an aircraft enters the airspace. An ATC clearance is required for all aircraft to operate in the area, and all aircraft that are so cleared receive separation services within the airspace.
A remote pilot must receive authorization from ATC before operating in the Class B airspace.
Class C airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower, are serviced by a radar approach control, and have a certain number of IFR operations or passenger enplanements. Although the configuration of each Class C area is individually tailored, the airspace usually consists of a surface area with a five NM radius, an outer circle with a ten NM radius that extends from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation, and an outer area. Each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while within the airspace.
A remote pilot must receive authorization before operating in Class C airspace.
What is the floor of the Savannah Class C airspace at the shelf area (outer circle)?
PLT040 / UA.II.A.K1b General airspace: Class C controlled airspace.
According to 14 CFR part 107 the remote pilot in command (PIC) of a small unmanned aircraft planning to operate within Class C airspace
PLT161 / UA.II.A.K1b General airspace: Class C controlled airspace.
According to 14 CFR part 107, how may a Remote PIC operate an unmanned aircraft in Class C airspace?
Class D airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 2,500 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower. The configuration of each Class D airspace area is individually tailored and when instrument procedures are published, the airspace is normally designed to contain the procedures. Arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures (IAPs) may be Class D or Class E airspace. Unless otherwise authorized, each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while in the airspace.
A remote pilot must receive ATC authorization before operating in Class D airspace.
If the airspace is not Class A, B, C, or D, and is controlled airspace, then it is Class E airspace. Class E airspace extends upward from either the surface or a designated altitude to the overlying or adjacent controlled airspace. When designated as a surface area, the airspace is configured to contain all instrument procedures. Also in this class are federal airways, airspace beginning at either 700 or 1,200 feet above ground level (AGL) used to transition to and from the terminal or en route environment, and en route domestic and offshore airspace areas designated below 18,000 feet MSL. Unless designated at a lower altitude, Class E airspace begins at 14,500 MSL over the United States, including that airspace overlying the waters within 12 NM of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska, up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL, and the airspace above FL 600.
In most cases, a remote pilot will not need ATC authorization to operate in Class E airspace.
Uncontrolled airspace or Class G airspace is the portion of the airspace that has not been designated as Class A, B, C, D, or E. It is therefore designated uncontrolled airspace. Class G airspace extends from the surface to the base of the overlying Class E airspace. Although ATC has no authority or responsibility to control air traffic, pilots should remember there are visual flight rules (VFR) minimums which apply to Class G airspace.
A remote pilot will not need ATC authorization to operate in Class G airspace.
Special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO) is the designation for airspace in which certain activities must be confined, or where limitations may be imposed on aircraft operations that are not part of those activities. Certain special use airspace areas can create limitations on the mixed use of airspace. The special use airspace depicted on instrument charts includes the area name or number, effective altitude, time and weather conditions of operation, the controlling agency, and the chart panel location. On National Aeronautical Charting Group (NACG) en route charts, this information is available on one of the end panels.
Special use airspace usually consists of:
Prohibited areas contain airspace of defined dimensions within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited. Such areas are established for security or other reasons associated with the national welfare. These areas are published in the Federal Register and are depicted on aeronautical charts. The area is charted as a “P” followed by a number (e.g., P-49). Examples of prohibited areas include Camp David and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the White House and the Congressional buildings are located.
Restricted areas are areas where operations are hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft and contain airspace within which the flight of aircraft, while not wholly prohibited, is subject to restrictions. Activities within these areas must be confined because of their nature, or limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities, or both. Restricted areas denote the existence of unusual, often invisible, hazards to aircraft (e.g., artillery firing, aerial gunnery, or guided missiles). IFR flights may be authorized to transit the airspace and are routed accordingly. Penetration of restricted areas without authorization from the using or controlling agency may be extremely hazardous to the aircraft and its occupants. ATC facilities apply the following procedures when aircraft are operating on an IFR clearance (including those cleared by ATC to maintain VFR on top) via a route which lies within joint-use restricted airspace:
Restricted areas are charted with an “R” followed by a number (e.g., R-4401) and are depicted on the en route chart appropriate for use at the altitude or FL being flown. [Figure 14-3] Restricted area information can be obtained on the back of the chart.
Warning areas are similar in nature to restricted areas; however, the United States government does not have sole jurisdiction over the airspace. A warning area is airspace of defined dimensions, extending from 3 NM outward from the coast of the United States, containing activity that may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft. The purpose of such areas is to warn nonparticipating pilots of the potential danger. A warning area may be located over domestic or international waters or both. The airspace is designated with a “W” followed by a number (e.g. W-237) [Figure 14-4]
Military Operations Areas (MOAs) consist of airspace with defined vertical and lateral limits established for the purpose of separating certain military training activities from IFR traffic. Whenever an MOA is being used, nonparticipating IFR traffic may be cleared through an MOA if IFR separation can be provided by ATC. Otherwise, ATC reroutes or restricts nonparticipating IFR traffic. MOAs are depicted on sectional, VFR terminal area, and en route low altitude charts and are not numbered (e.g., “Camden Ridge MOA”). [Figure 14-5] However, the MOA is also further defined on the back of the sectional charts with times of operation, altitudes affected, and the controlling agency.
Alert areas are depicted on aeronautical charts with an “A” followed by a number (e.g., A-211) to inform nonparticipating pilots of areas that may contain a high volume of pilot training or an unusual type of aerial activity. Pilots should exercise caution in alert areas. All activity within an alert area shall be conducted in accordance with regulations, without waiver, and pilots of participating aircraft, as well as pilots transiting the area, shall be equally responsible for collision avoidance. [Figure 14-6]
Controlled Firing Areas (CFAs) contain activities, which, if not conducted in a controlled environment, could be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft. The difference between CFAs and other special use airspace is that activities must be suspended when a spotter aircraft, radar, or ground lookout position indicates an aircraft might be approaching the area. There is no need to chart CFAs since they do not cause a nonparticipating aircraft to change its flightpath.
The chart shows a gray line with "VR1667, VR1617, VR1638, and VR1668." Could this area present a hazard to the operations of a small UA?
PLT064 / UA.II.A.K2 Special use within airspace. (Prohibited, restricted, warning, military operations, alert, and controlled firing.)
You have been hired by a farmer to use your small UA to inspect his crops. The area that you are to survey is in the Devil`s Lake West MOA, east of area 2. How would you find out if the MOA is active?
PLT064 / UA.II.A.K2 Special use within airspace. (Prohibited, restricted, warning, military operations, alert, and controlled firing.)
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
602 561 8665
You can also fill out my online form.
The information on this website is for educational purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice. While the author of this website is an attorney, she is not your attorney, nor are you her client, until you enter into a written agreement with Nilsson Law, PLLC to provide legal services.