Flying a small unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes in the United States is governed under the FAA’s set of operational rules known as 14CFR Part 107. The pilot in command must have a *Remote Pilot certificate with sUAS rating and abide by the laws in part 107. Virginia UAS specializes in helping companys, organizations and individuals prepare for the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft.
*requires the proponent to pass a 60 questions aeronautical knowledge test
It’s of most importance for sUAS pilots to understand that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating in close proximity to the ground. Pilots of sUAS should maintain good situational awareness, give way to and remain well clear of any and all manned airplanes and helicopters.
Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.
What is a commercial use of sUAS?
Any use of sUAS in connection with a business or the furtherance of commerce. Some examples of commercial operation as noted by the FAA are:
- Selling photos or videos taken from a UAS
- Using UAS to provide contract services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
- Using UAS to provide professional services, such as security or telecommunications
- Using UAS to monitor the progress of work your company is performing
- Professional real estate or wedding photography
- Professional cinema photography for a film or television production
- Providing contract services for mapping or land surveys
What requirements are there to fly commercially?
- Remote Pilot must be at least 16 years of age
- Must hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of someone holding a remote pilot airman certificate
- Must pass the applicable Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting
- sUAS must weigh less than 55lbs (total weight of aircraft and payload at takeoff)
Operating rules for those meeting the requirements
(For a more detailed summary, click here.)
- Must not operate in Class B, C, D or lateral bounds of Class E to the surface airspace without first obtaining required Air Traffic Control (ATC) permission*. Operation in Class G airspace is permitted without ATC permission.
- Must fly under 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if flying at an altitude higher than 400 feet AGL, stay within 400 feet of a structure
- Must keep the sUAS in visual line of sight, either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer*
- Must fly during daylight hours* or with appropriate anti-collision lighting, civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time)
- Must fly at or below 100 mph ground speed*
- Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
- Must NOT fly over people*
- Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle unless you are in a sparsely populated area*
*Commercial operation of sUAS outside the limits of these rules will require you to apply for a Certificate of Waiver (CoW) with the FAA. If the operation can be performed safely, but is otherwise not allowed under Part 107, the FAA may grant a waiver from which to operate.
The voluntary guidelines for “neighborly” drone use serve to provide guidance to UAS operators on ways to balance their rights as drone users and other people’s rights to privacy.