Piloting Tips: FAA Drone Guidelines Published 17-May-2019

17-May-2019 marked the most recent publication of FAA Guidelines for integrating drones into the US Airspace.

The latest release affects RECREATIONAL (aka hobbyist) drone pilots (not commercial remote pilots who fly under Part 107), and is being deployed in stages, since certain guidelines are dependent upon another.

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FAA Press Release released 16-MAY-2019

Actual Notice published to the register on 17-MAY-2019

What is a Recreational Flyer?  FAA Sourced material from FAA Site

What is a Commercial Flyer? FAA Sourced material from FAA Site

Highlights to the recent guidelines release:

  • Recreational Pilots fly without need of approvals in any CLASS G (uncontrolled) Airspace, up to 400 AGL.

For Controlled Airspace:

  • No longer call ATC Towers for permission to operate in controlled airspace. (repealed the “call for permission” 5-mile airport radius rule)
    • Hobbyists are allowed to fly in controlled airspace without FAA permission, if it is at a pre-approved location.
      • The FAA already published an initial Fixed Site listing of approved AMA Fields and other sites will be added as sites apply and are approved.
    • Hobbyists will use the LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Capability) system to gain permissions for all other controlled airspace.  The FAA added the NOTE that until the LAANC is upgraded, recreational flying in controlled airspace is limited to the Fixed Site list (linked above.)

Testing & Knowledge: 

  • Recreational Flyers will need to pass an aeronautical knowledge & safety test.
    • The notice did not state whether this test will, or will not, be the same as the UAS-G test that a pilot needs to pass for an Airman’s Certificate to fly Part 107 Commercially.  They stated it was in the development phase.

Please share some of your tips, questions, and thoughts in the comments below!

I will be more than happy to perform any due diligence and get official answers directly from the FAA. Alternatively, you can email the UASHelp@faa.gov with any drone questions! In my experience, they answer promptly, and provide links to the related documentation.

ALWAYS REGISTER YOUR DRONE THROUGH the FAA’s DRONE ZONE (if it’s above 0.55 lbs) and display your registration number on the outside of your drone!

Mine is written with a black ‘sharpie’ on a visible yet inconspicuous spot on the sides of my drones.

Fly Safe!  Cheers and Clicks,

JJ

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