If you want to fly your UAS for commercial use, you must follow the FAA’s set of operational rules (known as “Part 107”). These rules went into effect on August 29, 2016.
What is a commercial use of UAS?
Any commercial use in connection with a business, including:
- 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
What are some examples of commercial uses of UAS?
- 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 do I need to meet to fly commercially?
Remote Pilot requirements:
- 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
- Must weigh less than 55 lbs.*
- Must undergo pre-flight check by remote pilot in command (a.k.a. you or the person supervising the operation)
Location requirements (click here for more details on these airspace classes):
- Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required Air Traffic Controller (ATC) permission
- Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
If I meet all the requirements to fly commercially, what are the operating rules?
(For a more detailed summary, click here.)
- 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 UAS in sight (i.e. visual line of sight), either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer*
- Must fly during daylight hours* or civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
- 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 unless you are in a sparsely populated area*
*If you want to operate UAS for commercial purposes outside of these rules, you may apply for a certificate of waiver. The FAA will grant waivers if operation can be performed safely but may otherwise not be allowed under Part 107.
How do I become a certified commercial UAS pilot?
The AUVSI Trusted Operator Program™ (TOP) is a professional unmanned systems community initiative aimed at supporting industry accepted remote pilot standards and protocols, which will result in the safe and sustainable advancement of the industry. TOP fills the gap between the Part 107 operating regulation and a higher level of demonstrated knowledge, flight proficiency, safety and risk management practices that is expected to be valued by employers and customers of commercial UAS operators. Learn more about AUVSI TOP Certification and set your career apart from others in the remote pilot industry.
What else do I need to know?
Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. 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.
Also, please read the voluntary guidelines for “neighborly” drone use, which serve to provide guidance to UAS operators on ways to balance their rights as drone users and other people’s rights to privacy.