Drone regulations & safety: Basics for novice flyers

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It is needless to say that the popularity of drones have skyrocketed in the recent years. According to reports, nearly 1 million drones were sold in the holiday season of 2015. It is estimated that the drone market will grow at an annual rate of 32% (compound) in the years 2015 – 2020.

With such a drastic change in the amount of these small crafts in air space, it has become crucial to immediately implement certain rules and regulations for the safety, privacy and well-being of the general public.

Who is responsible for the implementation of these rules and regulations in the USA? Answer: The FAA. The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for everything in the Aerospace world and this includes drones and model aircrafts.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the FAA regulations the safety measures you must take while flying your drone. Read on!



Guidelines on flying

How high can you fly and can you flight out of line of sight?

According to FAA advisory circular, you are to fly your craft no higher than 400 feet and keep it within eyesight. This holds true even if you are using an FPV system to fly.

Where and when are you not allowed to fly?

First of all, you must avoid interfering with regular airplanes and other aircraft and obstacles at all times. Second, you must not intentionally fly over people or moving vehicles and remain at least 25 feet away from property and individuals.

If you are planning on flying within 5 miles of an airport or heliport, you must contact the control tower. You are also not to fly your craft above power stations, heavily travelled roadways, government facilities and really crowded public places.

You are advised not to fly under difficult weather conditions such as snow fall and heavy winds. You are also to stick to daylight flying, even if your craft boasts strong LED lights for visibility.

Respect other people’s privacy. Do not head your craft over to random people and start taking videos and photographs of them.

Also, do not drink and fly! 🙂

How do you use your drone commercially?

Commercial use of drones include the selling of photos and videos taken using the UAV, providing contract services like factory inspection, agricultural inspection, wildlife survey operations and providing security and surveillance operations with the UAV.

Effective August 29, 2016: If you want to use the UAV for these commercial purposes,  according to FAA: “The person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.

Operators are responsible for ensuring a drone is safe before flying, but the FAA is not requiring small UAS to comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. Instead, the remote pilot will simply have to perform a preflight visual and operational check of the small UAS to ensure that safety-pertinent systems are functioning property.  This includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS.”

Read more here.

Where can you find more information?

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Drones may be small and come in nice boxes but they are not simple toys. They must be operated with care because misuse can be dire. The FAA’s intervention in the hobbyist’s affairs may appear too nosy, but with the alarming rate of increase of these crafts it is necessary to have regulations in place to avoid misuse and to promote safety and privacy of the general population.

We hope you took your time to read this article and will take the necessary precautions! If you have any questions or comments, please drop them below!