The rules for flying a drone (or UAS — unmanned aircraft system — as the FAA calls them) have recently changed, and there is some confusion about what is and what isn’t allowed. So let me clear it up here.
The FAA distinguishes between flying for fun, and flying for work or business. We’ll focus on the latter. Flying a drone for work or business is perfectly legal, subject to these rules:
- The pilot must have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, must be at least 16 years old and must pass TSA vetting.
- The drone must be less than 55 lbs. and must be registered if over 0.55 lbs. It must undergo a pre-flight check to ensure the UAS is in safe operating condition.
- It must operate in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
In flight, these rules apply:
- Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)
- Must fly under 400 feet
- Must fly during the day
- Must fly at or below 100 mph
- Must yield right of way to manned aircraft
- Must NOT fly over people
- Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle
In practice, this allows for quite a bit of latitude, as long as you play by the rules. At Allied Pixel, we fly a DJI Inspire, which is a two-operator drone. A pilot flies the aircraft, while a camera operator controls the camera.
Our drone pilot, Frank Speeder, is indeed properly licensed. He’s an FAA licensed drone pilot and has worked as a drone flight instructor. He is an FAA licensed Commercial Pilot (Single, Multi-Engine, Instrument ratings) and a former US Navy Pilot and Navy Flight Instructor with over 2,000 hours of military flight time.
Drones can make for some really cool shots. There are some neat ones in these videos:
Please contact me if you’d like to talk about using a drone in your next video project.