Quadcopter Laws and regulations
There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the legality of drones in the US.
Can you operate one for business or not? The short answer: The FAA grants permission on a case-by-case basis.
Here’s some information that will help you get up to date, and find out what is legal, and what isn’t.
The FAA published an article on their website dated 28th January 2015 declaring NFL stadium events a “NO DRONE ZONE” This also applies to baseball, NASCAR and more – any event with attendance above 30 000.
Since February 14 2012, FAA Modernization and Reform Act has been in place to regulate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and model aircraft in general. The aim of the Act was to allow the safe and recreational use of these new types of Airspace hazards, and limit the danger and abuse.
According to this act you may not:
- Fly near manned aircraft (if you’re within 5 miles of an airport, you need to contact the control tower)
- Lose the line of sight between operator and aircraft
- Fly and aircraft weighing more than 55lbs unless special authorization is obtained
- Fly a model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes.
On June 23rd 2014 The FAA confirmed their stance on the issue, through a press release offering guidelines to model aircraft operators. This is after “recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.”
Understandably, many people, including the Academy of Model Aeronautics, are up in arms about the distinction between “recreational” and “business” use. According to an article in Bloomberg Business, the FAA actually required the use of trained airplane pilots when it granted permission to several Hollywood production companies to use aerial drones in their production.
There is currently a hot debate underway as to the differences between manned and unmanned aircraft laws, risks, and legality.
Peter Sachs runs a site called Drone Law Journal and is very vocal in his stance against current FAA legislation, and points to a legal decision by the NTSB involving the Pirker case. A $10000 fine was disputed, and the case raised the issue of the risks and dangers of operating heavy model aircraft, which are used legally for recreation, and are arguably far more dangerous than foamy Quadcopters, which are illegal (commercially).
Many interested parties are keeping an eye on changes in FAA law, due out soon.
The age of the Quadcopter has arrived, though. These versatile tools are useful in many areas, including law enforcement, land surveillance, wildlife preservation and tracking, search and rescue, and more. Along with the risks, which the FAA is focussed on, there are also fantastic benefits to being able to use this kind of technology, and no doubt we will be seeing more and more of these marvellous flying machines around, and see fantastic new technologies developing around them.
According to the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) as of 12/29/2014 20 states have enacted laws addressing the drone issue.
The latest information available by the FAA has to do with a special clause in the law, Section 333.
Know Before You Fly (knowbeforeyoufly.org) was founded by the three leading organizations with a stake in UAS safety – the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is partnering with the founding members to spread the word about safe and responsible flying.
Here you can find out even more about operating your UAS Quadcopter.
According to this site, the FAA authorizes the use of drones on a case-by-case basis. You need to apply for an exemption if you plan to use your drone for commercial use – something like:
- Real estate or wedding photography
- Cinema, film or television
- Mapping or land surveys
How do you apply for an exemption?
Follow this link. You’ll find a .pdf document to read through, giving you all the steps you need to take to submit your petition. You will also be required to submit a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), which you will also find at this site, but be sure to submit both, and include your petition docket number on your COA application.
So there you have it.
If you’re operating a Quadcopter in your business venture, it pays to stay informed.Check back in future to see the latest news, and keep up to date on the latest technology.