Part 107 refers to the set of FAA regulations for the commercial operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), also known as drones. These regulations cover several areas, including the following:
- Pilot qualifications: The person operating a small UAV for commercial purposes must obtain a remote pilot certificate from the FAA.
- Maximum weight: The UAVs can weigh no more than 55 pounds (25 kg).
- Maximum speed: The UAV’s groundspeed can’t exceed 100 mph (87 knots).
- Maximum altitude: The UAV must fly no higher than 400 feet above ground level, or no further away than 400 feet from a structure (including above the structure).
- Limited operation in controlled airspace: The UAV can fly without getting ATC permission only in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace.
- Daytime operations: The UAV must fly during daylight hours, or within 30 minutes of sunrise and sunset.
No experience necessary to become a remote pilot
One of the most surprising realities about Part 107 is that an applicant for a remote pilot certificate is not required to have any previous aviation experience, or any formal instructions on how to fly a drone, prior to taking the test. To obtain a remote pilot certificate from the FAA, a person has to be at least 16 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test, and pass a TSA security screening. This is unlike the requirements for any other FAA pilot certificates, which all require not only experience flying an aircraft, but also requires either formal training or evaluation by a flight instructor.
Understanding the regulations is an ongoing effort
There are a number of regulations and restrictions concerning sUAS aircraft and their pilots, explained in detail by the FAA in several documents, including Advisory Circular 107-2, and the most important thing to remember, especially for those with no prior aviation or aerospace experience, is that a sUAS (drone) is an aircraft, and that all airspace is regulated by the FAA.
While those who fly drones for fun are typically unaware of FAA regulations, those who intend to fly for professional or business reasons have a responsibility to become very familiar with the regulations and to make other efforts to continuously enhance their knowledge of aviation. The technology, laws, and regulations related to drones will likely continue to evolve, and any pilot who makes the effort to pass the remote pilot test should also plan on having a long term relationship with aviation, including the relevant regulations related to drones.