In just past few years, the tech market is fully saturated with drones which have transformed from just an experiment to a full-on cultural phenomenon. But before setting your drones to flight, you need to be aware of certain rules and regulations that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put up for flying drones in the US.
PURPOSE OF FLYING: FOR FUN OR FOR WORK
The requirements aren’t that strict if you’re flying for fun. But if you plan on making money with your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), you’ll need to pass an FAA test and receive Part 107 certification. After getting certified you’ll be able to use your drone to capture aerial images and video to sell as stock imagery, work on film productions, grab aerial imagery at weddings or for real estate.
Recreational pilots in the US are required to spend $5 to register with the FAA before flying outdoors. You are allowed to own and fly as many drones as you wish for one price, for a period of three years. An FAA identification number will be assigned to you which should be placed on the exterior of your drone. You could either use printable stickers or just a label maker would do equally fine.
Now it is mandatory, as of February 23rd, 2019, for your sticker to be placed on the exterior of the aircraft. The old rules allowed you to place the registration number inside the battery compartment.
If your quadcopter weighs less than 8.8 ounces (250g), you won’t have to go through the registration process. Conversely, you can’t register a drone that’s heavier than 55 pounds via the online portal. Also if you’re working with an industrial aircraft you’ll need to submit a paper registration application.
RULES TO FOLLOW AFTER REGISTRATION
- Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
- Fly at or below 400 feet
- Keep your drone within sight
- Never fly over groups of people
- Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
- Never fly over stadiums or sports events
- Be aware of airspace requirements
If you’re concerned about whether you’re too close to an airport to fly, you need to be at least five miles away to operate without notifying the control tower of your activity—consider using an app. My choice is AirMap, available for smartphones and on the web, which shows you exactly where you’re allowed to fly and where you aren’t, with tools for both recreational and commercial pilots.
National Parks have banned the use of drones within their confines because some places should be free of technological distractions. The airspace around Washington DC is also restricted. Also, be aware of your rights and the rights of those around you.
- DJI Phantom 4 ($899.00)
- DJI Inspire 2 ($2,799.00)
- DJI Mavic Pro Platinum ($879.00)
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro ($1,135.00)
- DJI Mavic Air ($799.00)
- DJI Spark ($310.00)
- Parrot Bebop 2 FPV ($460.00)
- Ryze Tello ($99.00)
Flying a quadcopter is a lot of fun, and it allows you to navigate the increasingly large and everchanging landscape and capture images and video that you wouldn’t get from ground level. But ensuring that you follow the FAA rules and defusing conflict with others will go a long way toward making it a more enjoyable (and legal) experience.