In recent years, the popularity of drones has skyrocketed, with more and more people turning to unmanned aircraft for both personal and professional purposes. However, many drone pilots may not be fully aware of the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when it comes to flying drones recreationally. All drone pilots must be FAA-compliant to ensure the safety of our airspace and prevent accidents.
In this scenario, John is an avid drone enthusiast who enjoys flying his drone as a hobby. He is currently visiting a city that is home to a professional sports team and sees this as an opportunity to capture some amazing footage of the occasion. John plans to post these videos online, hoping to gain a significant number of views and increase his online following. However, while filming some footage one afternoon, John is approached by law enforcement officers who issue him a citation for violating an active Temporary Flight Restriction, operating an unregistered drone without an FAA drone certificate, and endangering the public by flying his drone too close to people. This situation could have been avoided if John had followed the FAA rules for recreational drone pilots.
So, let’s dive into the rules and regulations for recreational flyers. As per the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, those flying drones for recreational purposes are required to comply with all rules for recreational flyers. Here are some of the most important rules and regulations to keep in mind:
* Fly only for recreational purposes (i.e., personal enjoyment, not for compensation or hire).
* Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized community-based organization (CBO). For more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, please read Advisory Circular 91-57C.
* Keep your drone within the visual line of sight, or use a visual observer who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
* Give way to, and do not interfere with, other aircraft.
* Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and surface Class E designated for an airport) only with prior FAA authorization by using LAANC or the DroneZone.
* Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
* Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
* Have a current FAA drone registration, mark your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you when flying.
It’s important to note that beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone requires an FAA registration number, it will also be required to broadcast Remote ID information. For more information on drone registration, visit How to Register Your Drone on the FAA’s official website.
Tracking the drone’s location and knowing the different types of airspace is vitally important to operating drones safely. When it comes to drone flying, it’s important to be aware of airspace restrictions and regulations. Abiding by airspace rules and regulations helps ensure the safety of our airspace and prevents potential hazards.
According to Section 44809(a)(6) of the FAA guidelines for limited recreational operations, a drone must be flown at or below 400 feet above ground level in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace and must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions. It’s important to note that “ground level” begins at the Earth’s surface and does not include man-made structures, trees, or any obstacle. Therefore, for example, a drone engaged in recreational operations under 49 U.S.C. § 44809(a) may not be launched from a 10-story rooftop and fly up an additional 400 feet.
Remember, flying drones in restricted airspace is not allowed. Restricted airspace refers to areas where flights are restricted due to national security, public safety, or other reasons. Drone pilots should always check for airspace restrictions prior to flight on the B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage. These platforms provide critical airspace information, including the locations of airports, national parks, stadiums, special use airspace (including restricted and prohibited airspace), TFRs, other special flight rules, and more. This helps ensure that drone pilots stay out of restricted airspace and fly safely.
Individuals who operate their drones in a dangerous manner or violate any of the rules, including airspace, may face FAA enforcement action. This includes operating drones for commercial purposes but flying under recreational rules. It’s important to understand the potential consequences of violating FAA regulations. This may include fines or other penalties, depending on the severity of the violation. Additionally, if you fly without registering your drone or fail to follow the required rules and regulations, you may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Always remember, it’s important for all drone pilots to understand and follow FAA rules and regulations to keep our airspace safe and prevent potential hazards. For those interested in learning more about becoming a drone pilot, Gleim offers comprehensive training programs that can help you prepare for the FAA’s Remote Pilot Certificate exam. Go to https://www.gleimaviation.com/drone/ to learn more.