Think your application for a Part 107 waiver is going to fly through the FAA like a drone? Think again. The FAA is throwing some cold water on these expectations. Earlier this week, the agency issued a Part 107 notice to applicants, reporting it has granted 81 ATC authorizations and issued 36 waivers, but denied 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace authorizations. The agency recommends applicants to review and understand the applicable requirements, and demonstrate solid safety mitigations.

Airspace authorizations. The FAA notice reminds applicants that:

  • Currently, ATC authorizations are only available for Class D and E airspace.
  • Requests to fly in Class C airspace will be considered after October 31, 2016, and requests to fly in Class A airspace after December 5, 2016.
  • Applicants must fully describe the intended operations, including the date and time, the proposed area of operation, the maximum altitude, and the latitude and longitude.
  • The FAA also expects applicants to respond to additional information inquiry within 30 days to move forward with the application.More detailed application instructions are available here.

Waiver applications. For waiver applications, the FAA highlighted some of the information applicants must provide when applying for nighttime operations. Specifically, applicants must explain the expected method to:

  • Maintain visual-line-of-sight during nighttime;
  • See and avoid obstacles;
  • Know the position, altitude, attitude, and movements of the sUAS; and
  • Increase conspicuity of the sUAS to be seen at a distance of 3 miles.

Applicants must also ensure that participants understand the visual illusions of darkness and the physiological conditions associated with night vision. More requirements to apply for a Part 107 waiver are listed here.

Although Part 107 waivers can provide operational flexibility, applicants must demonstrate the safety of the operation and any risk mitigations so that it can assess and timely approve applications.