Gone are the days of free, unrestricted drone flying in the U.S. Since 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been rolling out regulations and restrictions that maintain safety in the airspace above us. You must adhere to these restrictions whether you fly for fun or for your livelihood.
In addition to these restrictions, you should also respect your fellow flight enthusiasts and those around you. One way to do this is to spring for a quieter drone motor. It’s also a good practice to check the skies before you fly so you’re aware of any other drones already in the airspace.
If you fly for fun
Flying for recreation has a different set of guidelines than commercial drone flying. You will need to register your drone aircraft with the FAA. Registration costs $5 and is valid for a period of three years.
In addition to registering your drone, as a hobby flyer, you’ll have to keep your drone at or below 400 feet and in your line of sight. Your drone must weigh under 55 pounds unless certified by a community-based organization.
You will also have to adhere to temporary flight restrictions that occur during hazardous conditions such as a wildfire or chemical spill.
If you fly for work
Under the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rule, you can register your drone for commercial and recreational use. If you use your drone for any commercial operations, you’ll want to choose this option. You will still have to register your drone with the FAA, and the cost to do that is still $5 per aircraft, which is valid for three years. However, unlike a hobbyist, you’ll need to label your unmanned aircraft with your registration number.
You’ll also need to acquire a remote pilot certification from the FAA, fly a drone under 55 pounds, and maintain a visual line-of-sight while flying. You also can’t fly in controlled airspace or near other aircraft or over people. Fly only during daylight at or below 400 feet.
Some of these rules, like visual line-of-sight and flying over people, can be waived by completing a special request with the FAA.
Registering your drone
In order to register, you’ll need to visit faadronezone.faa.gov, meet the following criteria, and have these materials:
- Be at least 13 years of age (if the owner is younger have an adult register)
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
- Email address
- Credit or debit card
- Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
- Make and model of your unmanned aircraft
Where you can’t fly
In addition to temporary flight restrictions, there are also restrictions that limit any flying of drones in a no drone zone, and you must never fly near any emergency response efforts. Also never fly near other aircraft. If you’re flying within 5 miles of an airport, you must notify air traffic control.
Where you shouldn’t fly
Maintain a respect for others when you fly. Don’t be a nuisance who disrupts others. Follow the FAA guidelines, and you’ll be having fun with your drone for years to come.
B4UFLY Mobile App
Utilize the B4UFLY Mobile App for the latest, real-time information concerning airspace restrictions and other flying requirements targeted for your GPS location.
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