Understanding the UAS “Drone” field.
The field of “Drone” deployment and use is rather complex and continuously changing both in the technology, flying platforms and the “sensors” used in data collection. Recent regulations have created two class or standards for operating. The original was an FAA 333 exemption, which requires a certificated pilot to have at least a Private Pilot Certificate or higher category rating and be current on flying with a “flight review” and “medical” completed within the past 24 months. This exemption required petitioners to list specifically their planned application of the Drone technology. As the back log of requested exemptions grew, pressure for change mounted to allow more entrants to this expanding field of technology.
FAA Part 107 went into effect August 29, 2016, which in the main eliminated the private pilot or above certificate requirement, replacing it with a written exam and vetting of the pilot, thus creating a new class of “UAS Operator Pilot.” The restriction as to what activities one could use Drones for was in the main lifted. Cherry picking of what provisions suited an operator under each provision is not permitted. Requirements that apply to both and not visible to clients, but are time consuming, away from in the field flying the mission include:
- Filing of written requests to ATC for permission to enter their controlled airspace and receiving an affirmative response. In some cases positive communication with the ATC during the flying of the mission maybe required.
- Accurate records on the pilot (Pilot Log).
- Detailed Maintenance records on the flight platform.
- Detailed flight records on each individual flight.
- Pre/Post Flight Check list.
- Posting of signs notifying the public of scheduled flights.
- Notifying property owners within 500’ of scheduled flight routs.
- If scheduled flights are preempted by weather or other circumstances—notices and permissions must be updated.
- The maintenance of flight records both with the UAS Operator (site of operations) and at the office.
While we have a pending petition with the FAA for a 333 Exemption we are operating under FAA Part 107 with our Director of Pilots & Flight Operations, having in excess of 9,000 manned flight hours.
We pledge to our clients that we don’t just meet, but strive to exceed standards as our platform for performing their assignments.