19 Apr Flying Your Drone Commercially: Part 107 Explanation
Let’s talk Part 107
Drones are one of the most exciting pieces of technology we have today. They can be taken for joyrides, used to capture stunning photos and videos, aid deliveries, or scan your crops — among many other things. They’re so useful that if you own one it’s not out of the ordinary to have someone ask you to shoot some video for them in exchange for a little bit of money. Right there is where, in the past, you would have technically broken the law. This Part 107 explanation will help you turn your drone into a business while giving you the rundown on everything you need to know and do to remain FAA compliant.
What’s the difference between Commercial Use and Leisure Use?
Commercial operation is defined as “an operation for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire”. So, if you are hired to take video of an event, are snapping aerial photos that you intend to sell, or are using your drone to assess the health of your crops, you would need to pass the Part 107 test. Basically, if you are making money off of the use of your drone, or are using your drone to help your business, Part 107 applies to you.
Previously, if you used your drone for commercial purposes you needed a specific exemption (the Section 333 exemption). This was a nuisance and made using your drone for any type of compensation a hassle. Luckily, on August 29th, 2016, the Part 107 rule came into effect.
*Note: if you already have a pilot certificate under Part 61, you can simply take a Part 107 training course online without needing to take the in-person test.
Part 107 Explanation
Part 107 is the first national, uniform regulations for commercial operation of remote operated aircraft under 55 pounds. There are a lot of little specifications and rules in Part 107 (which you can see below), but ultimately it just makes flying a drone for commercial benefit as easy as passing a knowledge test.
In short, Part 107 says:
- Operations must take place during daylight hours, or within the hours of civil twilight (immediately before sunrise and after sunset)
- Air Traffic Control approval is required before flying in controlled airspace
- Flight is permitted near non-participating structures
- Flight is not permitted directly over non-participating people
- Must take a knowledge test every 24 months
- Part 107 removes the requirement for commercial operators to file a Notice to Airmen
- Drone operators are not required to coordinate operations with or give notice to airports in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace
- Part 107 requires that commercial drone operations remain below 400 feet above ground level.
- A provision allows for commercial drones to operate higher than 400 feet above ground level when operating within 400 feet of a structure. This allows for the operation in areas where manned flight is risky.
- Allows drones to carry an external load and transport property for compensation
- Drones are not allowed to cross state lines. Only intra-state operation is allowed.
- An operator with the remote pilot certification can supervise an uncertified pilot, as long as the supervisor can take control of the remote aircraft immediately
What do I need to do for the test?
Requirements for the test:
- Be 16 years or older
- Ability to read, write, speak, and understand English (non-U.S. citizens can take the test)
- Have, and register, a drone that weighs less than 55 pounds
- Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
- Use this FAA list to find a testing center near you
- Sign up for the test
- The test costs $150. Third party test prep training is an additional fee.
- You are required to achieve a score of 70% or above to pass
- If you fail you must wait 14 days to retake the test, with the possibility you will have to pay the $150 fee again, in case you needed motivation to not mess around when prepping.
Things we recommend knowing and using to practice:
- Know the Part 107 regulations down to the last letter
- Learn how to read VFR (Visual Flight Rules) sectional charts, different kinds of airspaces, and basic meteorology fundamentals
- Take a practice test
- An FAA-created practice test can be found here
- Most people try to score 100% three times in a row before taking the real test. Keep that in mind as you prepare.
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