All inventors, developers, entrepreneurs and investors interested in the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, or more commonly referred to as “drones,” take note; this morning the FAA announced the release of the long awaited regulations governing the commercial use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems – to be promulgated in 14 C.F.R. Part 107 (the “Commercial UAS Regulations”). The new Commercial UAS Regulations make it much easier and less expensive for businesses to use drones to support their commercial operations. Highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows:

Pilot Requirements:

  • A remote pilot airman certificate with a sUAS rating or be under the supervision of a person who holds a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command)
  • To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must:
    • Pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or
  • Hold a part 61 pilot certificate, with currency, and complete a sUAS online training course provided by the FAA

Operational Limitations:

  • UAS less than 55 pounds (including payload)
  • Maximum altitude 400’ AGL
  • Maximum speed 100 mph
  • UAS must remain within visual line of sight of operator (Visual Observer is not required)
  • May not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation

The Commercial UAS Regulations will be effective sixty days from the date of their publication in the Federal Register, or by the end of August. A summary of the new Commercial UAS Regulations can be found here.

For those with Section 333 Exemptions, UAS can be operated under either the exemption or under the new Part 107. For those with pending 333 Exemption Petitions, the FAA will being send a letter shortly informing the petitioner that an exemption is no longer needed for the proposed operation. The petitioner can either proceed under Part 107 or request that the FAA continue to process the petition under Section 333.