FAA Rules For Commercial Drone Operations

Although the FAA Part 107 operational limitations are readily available, we still find that some UAS pilots are still sometimes unclear on the content. We thought it would be easier to understand in the operational limitations were grouped into categories. Below is our reordering of the FAA Part 107 operational limitations. In a few cases, we’ve turned sentences into bullets to make it easier to understand. Since we have manipulated the content slightly, please do not use this reference as anything but our interpretation of the rules. Read the official FAA documents, and visit their website for current, and accurate information regarding the FAA Part 107.

Airspace Safety

  1. Must yield right of way to other aircraft.
  2. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
  3. Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.
  4. Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.

Flight Safety

  1. Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons:
    • Not directly participating in the operation.
    • Not under a covered structure.
    • Not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  2. Requires preflight inspection by the remote pilot in command.

Visual Safety Measures

  1. Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only;
    • the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS.
    • Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer.
  2. Daylight-only operations.
    • Or civil twilight with appropriate anti-collision lighting.30 minutes before official sunrise local time.30 minutes after official sunset local time.
    • Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
    • At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
  3. May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
  4. No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
  5. First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.

Operating While Moving

  1. No operations from a moving aircraft.
  2. No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.

Common Sense

  1. No careless or reckless operations.
  2. A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.

Misc Rules

  1. Maximum ground speed of 100 mph (87 knots).
  2. Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
  3. Foreign-registered small unmanned aircraft are allowed to operate under part 107 if they satisfy the requirements of part 375.

Carrying Payload

External load operations are allowed if the object being carried by the unmanned aircraft is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.

No carriage of hazardous materials.

Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed provided that:

  • The aircraft, including its attached systems, payload and cargo weigh less than 55 pounds total.
  • The flight is conducted within visual line of sight.
  • The flight is not conducted  from a moving vehicle or aircraft.
  • The flight occurs wholly within the bounds of a State and does not involve transport between (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.