The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the implementation of the first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”). The regulations on June 21, 2016, officially take effect today, Aug 31st.
The provisions of the new rule – formally known as Part 107 –are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground.
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.
The FAA is issuing more than 70 waivers today, based on petitions for Section 333 exemptions. These waivers will be posted on September 1. The majority of the approved waivers were for night operations under Part 107.
The FAA will use safety data from each phase to ensure appropriate mitigations are in place as small UAS operations are integrated into controlled airspace. Testing centers nationwide can now administer the Aeronautical Knowledge Test required under Part 107.
Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft. Model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (which is now codified in part 101), including the stipulation they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.