There are some important things you should know before you fly a drone!

If you are going to pilot a drone for personal use, commercial or public works lets begin with the regulations by the FAA, because if you live in the United States it does not matter in what state you reside in, you have to adhere to these rules.

You will also find a quick reference Infographic on the 3 different classifications you might fall into according to the FAA.

Drone Regulations

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The FAA is the leading government agency setting the nation wide regulations for UAS/Drone use. Visit the regulations page on their official site for more information

Knowbeforeyoufly.org is the public site the FAA uses to inform the general public in an easy to understand manner. Below are the standard rules for the different type of uses.

Recreation Use

What is recreational use of sUAS?

 The recreational use of sUAS is the operation of an unmanned aircraft for personal interests and enjoyment. For example, using a sUAS to take photographs for your own personal use would be considered recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a commercial operation. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes commercial or other non-hobby, non-recreational sUAS operations.

What are the safety guidelines for sUAS recreational users?
  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Business Use

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 a professional services, such as security or telecommunications
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

If you want to use UAS for a commercial purpose, you have a few options. You can apply for an exemption from the FAA to operate commercially. You can use UAS with an FAA airworthiness certificate and operate pursuant to FAA rules. In both cases you would also need an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA). For more information about how to apply for an exemption, visit the FAA’s “Section 333″ page.

For more safety information, please download the Know Before You Fly brochure here.

Public Entities

Public entities, which include publically funded universities, law enforcement, fire departments and other government agencies, may currently apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA in order to use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in public aircraft operations.

Who can obtain a COA to operate public aircraft?
  • Only government entities—such as federal and state government agencies, law enforcement agencies and public colleges and universities—can receive a COA for public UAS aircraft operations.
  • Public aircraft operations must be conducted for a governmental function.
  • COAs are most commonly issued to public (government) entities, but are also required for civil (private) operations.
  • The FAA thoroughly evaluates each COA application to determine the safety of the proposal.
  • COAs are issued for a specific period of time, usually two years, and include special provisions unique to each proposal, such as a defined block of airspace and time of day sUAS can be used.
How can I apply for a COA?
  • Visit the FAA website for information on how to apply for a COA online.
  • A sample application can be viewed here.
  • Since 2009, the FAA has taken steps to streamline the application process by transitioning online.
  • The average COA processing time is less than 60 days.
  • Expedited authorization is available in emergency and life-threatening situations.

FAA Drone Photography Video, Even for Toy Drones!

You bought a drone and now you want to just own the skies, hold on there cowboy, there are a few things you need to know first. This is a quick crash course with two industry standard videos about safety and what you need to know before you take to the skies. We have a list of complete laws on drone, drone photography and drone video to check out here.

For now watch these videos as a great start to your new career as a pilot.

The Federal Aviation Administration is partnering with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Small UAV Coalition to make sure everyone who flies an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) during the holidays and afterward is familiar with the “rules of the air.” As part of the effort, the FAA created a short safety video, Know Before You Fly, to educate model UAS users on the Do’s and Don’ts of their hobby. If flying a regular drone, or for drone photography or drone video the rules are the same!

The bottom line? Have fun, but always fly safely!

Official press release  for the “Know Before You Fly” Campaign

AUVSI, AMA, Small UAV Coalition and FAA Launch “Know Before You Fly” Campaign

Leading UAS organizations seek to promote safe and responsible flying in partnership with the FAA

WASHINGTON – Leading unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry and hobbyist groups, along with the federal government, today launched a new education campaign titled “Know Before You Fly,” which provides prospective operators with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly. The effort is being spearheaded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The ease of acquiring UAS technology has led to a proliferation of unmanned flights, some of which are authorized and some of which are not. When it comes to unauthorized flights, many well-meaning individuals and prospective business operators want to fly and fly safely, but they don’t realize that, just because you can buy a UAS, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose.

“There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around UAS, and the technology is becoming the must-have holiday gift,” said Michael Toscano, President and CEO of AUVSI. “The ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign fills a critical education gap just in time for the holiday season. We want to ensure that all prospective operators have the tools they need to fly safely and responsibly.”

“AMA’s members have been flying model aircraft safely for nearly 80 years, and we want to take this opportunity to share our expertise with people who are new to the technology,” said Bob Brown, President of AMA. “Our 175,000 members are intimately familiar with our safety code, which we take very seriously, but not everyone who buys an unmanned aircraft knows what he or she should and should not do. Flying model aircraft is a fun and educational experience. We want to ensure it’s done as safely as possible.”

“Often people who purchase UAS for recreational use in stores or online are unaware of the existing safety guidelines,” said Michael Drobac of the Small UAV Coalition. “Our hope is that this campaign will make that information more accessible to the legions of flyers taking to the skies, ensuring safety for all aircraft, both manned and unmanned.”

The campaign plans to team up with manufacturers and distributors to inform consumers and businesses about what they need to know before taking to the skies. The campaign includes a website, educational video, point-of-sale materials and a digital and social media campaign to ensure that prospective operators have the information and guidance on what they need to know before they fly a UAS.

“We are proud to be partnering with AUVSI, AMA and the Small UAV Coalition in spreading the word about ways to fly safely and responsibly,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We often say that safety is a shared responsibility. The ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign allows us to harness the resources and expertise of industry as we strive to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.”

For more information, visit www.knowbeforeyoufly.org or follow the trend online with #KnowB4UFly.

For media inquiries, please contact media@knowbeforeyoufly.org.

What you should know about drone photogrpahy Infographic

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