In the last year, the federal government has responded to the emerging commercial industry of Unmanned Aviation by issuing new regulations. A drone is operated for commercial purposes whenever the operator is being paid to utilize the drone or it is used in furtherance of a business. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sought to address the widespread use of this technology by creating a path for commercial drone operators to obtain certification under a process known as the Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rule or (Part 107). On Aug. 29, 2016, the FAA implemented Part 107. The rule created a regulatory framework for the civil and commercial operations of small UAS, weighing 55 pounds or less. Generally, Part 107 requires operators to fly under 400 feet, within visual line of sight and only during daylight hours. Under this process, drone pilots are issued a Remote Pilot Certification and each drone is registered with the FAA. One of the requirements of Part 107 is that the drone pilot completes an online knowledge course and passes an exam. Part 107 also created a process for operators to obtain exemptions to its rules if the operator can prove mitigating factors to support the exemption. To date, more than 900 of these exemptions have been granted, with the vast majority permitting night time operations of drones.
The FAA has a separate set of regulations for hobbyist drone operators. On May 19, it was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals that hobbyist operators are not required to be registered. This decision, however, does not affect commercial drone operators.
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