Drone pilots all over the country are rejoicing — the Part 107 rule is finally here.
The rule, which make it easier for drone pilots to fly commercially, went into effect Monday, more than two months after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was implementing Part 107. Prior to Part 107, a pilot’s license — a costly and time-consuming roadblock for many — was required to obtain the FAA’s Section 333 exemption in order to fly commercially.
“This rule now sets forth the rules of engagement and enables commercial users to commence operation as long as they follow the rules,” Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said in a press conference.
Check out the video below that explains all you need to know about the Part 107 rule:
Simply passing the Part 107 test is just the beginning for pilots who now hope to profit from flying their drones. There are several rules pilots with the Part 107 certificate must follow. Among them, the drone in use must not weigh more than 55 pounds. Drones are also not allowed to fly over people not involved in the operation.
Pilots are limited to the time of day they can fly. Drones must be flown during daylight, or no more than 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset if lights are used. There is also an altitude limit of 400 feet above ground level.
Flights in any class of airspace besides Class G require the pilot to contact air traffic control from any nearby airport. Pilots must also maintain visual line-of-sight of the aircraft during the flight.
With the barrier for entry now lowered for commercial drone pilots, many expect the drone industry to boom.
“The FAA forecasts there could be as many as 600,000 aircraft used commercially during the first year after this rule is in place,” said FAA administrator Michael Huerta. “Drones are helping to create a whole new means of realizing the American dream.”
Pilots interested in obtaining the Part 107 certification can take the test at a number of testing centers throughout the country. Information on the 60-question test ranges from airspace information to weather data to operational questions.
The FAA’s website offers information to prepare for the exam, including a collection of sample test questions. Other drone experts have also attempted to capitalize on the influx of drone pilots wanting to study for the test and have created Part 107 test prep courses.
While the current Part 107 rule prohibits flights over people not involved in the production, the FAA did say on Monday that it is working on a rule to allow for such flights. No timeline has been announced for when that rule might take effect.
According to the FAA’s website, a total of 5,552 Section 333 exemptions were granted to drone pilots. By the FAA’s own estimation, the number of pilots operating with the Part 107 certification will be more than 100 times more than the number flying with a 333 exemption.
The FAA previously had threatened fines for pilots who operated commercially without a 333 exemption. However, according to a story in June by Motherboard, the FAA had yet to institute any fines of that nature. Most fines levied by the FAA involved “careless or reckless” flying, the Motherboard study found.
Just because Part 107 is now in effect does not mean a prior Section 333 exemption is worthless. Pilots who had their 333 exemption can still fly under those guidelines until the exemption expires.
To find out more about how the Part 107 rule is affecting drone pilots throughout the United States, be sure to check out www.airvuz.com. Article by Tyler Mason.