FAA Rule in Effect:  Waiver and Testing Process Online at FAA Website Aug29

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FAA Rule in Effect: Waiver and Testing Process Online at FAA Website

As of August 29, 2016 the FAA’s new rule on small unmanned aircraft systems (ie drones) rule is in effect.  The specific requirements of new Part 107 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations are well known by now.  It will be interesting to see how quickly the FAA acts on its new online waiver process for those who seek to operate outside of the Part 107 framework.

Also of interest is the requirement that in order to fly a drone legally for commercial purposes, the operator must pass a test at an FAA-approved facility and pass a background check in order to get a “remote pilot airman” certificate.  This is not an easy test—I certainly would fail without considerable preparation.  A sample question is:

(Refer to FAA-CT-8080-2G, Figure 59, area 2.) 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?
A. No, all operations will be above 400 feet.
B. Yes, this is a Military Training Route from 1,500 feet AGL.
C. Yes, the defined route provides traffic separation to manned aircraft.

Already, a number of business have sprung up offering to help with the certification process—many with websites that try and look like official government websites.  Anyone wanting to (continue) to operate a drone for commercial purposes will have to pass the FAA’s test.  It is important to note that the certification is only required for commercial operation, not recreational. 

This distinction between recreational and commercial use will continue to be a murky one.  Certainly, for local government seeking to regulate drone use, it makes no difference, for instance, whether the drone interfering with firefighting  operations is being flown for commercial or recreational use.  Similarly, owners and operators or critical infrastructure do not care about the purpose for drone flight that poses a potential security and safety risk.