Drones are becoming more and more widely used and accessible. With this there has been a lot of concern over safety and privacy issues, which is completely understandable when you think about the amount of damage a powerful drone can do if it crashes. Or when you think about how easy it is to spy on someone from over a mile away. So of course there are safety regulations in place that help to protect you and others.
Chances are, when you got that new drone for your birthday, you didn’t also get a handbook of flying regulations. That’s okay, no one else did either. The regulations are mostly guidelines you would follow anyway. But you do need to realize when you start flying drones that there are regulations in place where you are flying; you can’t just fly as high and far as you wish. Each country has its own set of airspace rules, some more strict than others.
If you aren’t flying for commercial purposes and are just flying for recreation recreational, these are the regulations:
- Avoid flying near stadiums or people
- Do not fly above 400 feet
- Stay away from any surrounding obstacles
- Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport
- Do not interfere with any manned aircraft and maintain a safe distance from them
- Always keep the aircraft within your visual line of sight
- Do not be reckless or careless with your drone
- Your drone must not weight any more than 55 pounds
If you stay within these parameters while flying recreationally, you do not need permission to fly. Be aware that if you do not follow these rules, you can and probably will be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
Up until this year, drones were only approved to be used for recreational purposes in the U.S. Only just recently they have been approved for commercial uses—with specific restrictions. But the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is still figuring out the final rules. So if you’re planning on using your drone for any sort of monetary compensation, know that this means you are flying for commercial use. In order to do this, you will first need FAA approval.
To gain FAA approval, you need to either be granted the section 333 exemption or you need to get a Special Airworthiness Certificate. With the certificate, you show that you know exactly how your system works and you ensure the FAA knows where you intend to fly. The applications for both the exemption and certificate are available on the FAA official website. Any other documents or dos and don’ts can also be found on the FAA website.
Getting an exemption or certificate seems easy, but there are actually many hurdles to go through in this process, especially since the rules are currently being updated. But, for better or worse, I think the regulations will eventually catch up to the advancing technology and we may see some incredible new advancements in the coming years where unmanned aerial vehicles are concerned.
- Ashley Smith