Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Frequently Asked Questions/Help
As seen at: http://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/
- What is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)?
An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).
- Is a UAS the same as a model aircraft?
Congress defined a “model aircraft” as a UAS that meets all of the following:
- Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
- Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
- Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes
- Who do I contact if my question isn’t answered on the UAS website?
We encourage you to first read all of the information on the website and browse our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions or concerns, you may contact the FAA’s UAS Integration Office via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 844-FLY-MY-UAS.
- When is the effective date of the Small UAS Rule?
The Small UAS Rule will be in effect August 29, 2016.
Flying for Work or Business (non-recreational)
- How do I fly a UAS for work or business purposes?
There are three ways to fly a UAS for work, business, or non-recreational reasons:
- Following the requirements in the Small UAS rule (Part 107)
- Following the rules in your Section 333 grant of exemption
- Obtain an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft
- I am part of a Federal/State/local government office – how can I fly a UAS to support a specific mission e.g. search and rescue?
You may either operate under the Part 107 rule, or you may be eligible to conduct public aircraft operations for which you would need to apply for a public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for certain operations.
- Can news media fly a UAS to shoot stories or cover breaking news?
Media companies may use a UAS, but must adhere to the requirements of their Section 333 grant of exemption or the Small UAS Rule (Part 107). Organizations may request a waiver under Part 107 to fly over people, and will need to provide sufficient mitigations to ensure public safety.
- What options do I have if my operation is not permitted under these rules (Part 107)?
If you are operating an unmanned aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds, generally you may apply for a Part 107 waiver (special permission) to conduct your operation. Your waiver application must outline how you intend to safely conduct your proposed operation, including any additional risk mitigation strategies you may use. An online portal will be available through www.faa.gov/uas for UAS operators to apply for waivers to applicable parts of the rule. Get more information in the FAQ section on Permissions, Authorizations, Waivers, and Exemptions.
- Is package delivery allowed under the small UAS rule (Part 107)? Part 107 permits the transportation of property for compensation or hire, provided the operator complies with all the provisions of the rule, including that the operator must keep the UAS within his/her sight, the flight is conducted within visual line-of-sight and not from a moving vehicle, external loads must be securely attached and cannot adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft, and the aircraft with payload must weigh less than 55 lbs. at takeoff. The transportation must also occur wholly within the bounds of a state and may not involve transportation of property between: (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside of Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.
Flying for Fun (recreational or hobby)
- What is the definition of recreational or hobby use of a UAS?
Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire. In the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, the FAA relied on the ordinary, dictionary definition of these terms. UAS use for hobby is a “pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” UAS use for recreation is “refreshment of strength and sprits after work; a means of refreshment or division.”
- Do I need permission from the FAA to fly a UAS for recreation or as a hobby?
There are two ways for recreational or hobby UAS fliers to operate in the national airspace system in accordance with the law and/or FAA regulations. Each of the two options has specific requirements that the UAS operator must follow. The decision as to which option to follow is up to the individual operator.Option #1. Fly in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95 Section 336). Under this rule, operators must:
- Fly for hobby or recreational purposes only
- Follow a community-based set of safety guidelines
- Fly the UAS within visual line-of-sight
- Give way to manned aircraft
- Provide prior notification to the airport and air traffic control tower, if one is present, when flying within 5 miles of an airport
- Fly UAS that weigh no more than 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization
- Register the aircraft (UAS over 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs. can be registered online at registermyuas.faa.gov; UAS 55 lbs. or greater must be registered through the FAA’s paper-based process)
Option #2. Fly in accordance with the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107). This requires operators to:
- Obtain a remote pilot certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone who holds such a certificate.
- Register the aircraft as a non-modeler at registermyuas.faa.gov
- Follow all the operating rules in accordance with the regulation
- Does the new Small UAS Rule (part 107) apply to recreational UAS operations?
Part 107 does not apply to UAS flown strictly for fun (hobby or recreational purposes) as long as these unmanned aircraft are flown in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of P.L. 112-95). Visit our “Fly for Fun” webpage for safety rules and guidelines that apply to recreational UAS operations. The small UAS rule codifies the provisions of section 336 in part 101 of the FAA’s regulations, which will prohibit operating a UAS in manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.
- How do I know where it is OK to fly and where it is not OK to fly?
The FAA has developed a mobile app called B4UFLY to help recreational UAS operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly. Additional guidance is also available in the “Where to Fly” section of this website.
- Can I fly a model aircraft or UAS over a stadium or sporting events for hobby or recreation?
No. Federal law restricts UAS from flying at or below 3,000 AGL within a 3 nautical mile radius of any stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people during a Major League Baseball (MLB), regular or post-season National Football League (NFL), or NCAA Division I football game, or major motor speedway event. This temporary flight restriction applies to the entire U.S. domestic national airspace system, and takes effect starting one hour before the scheduled event time until one hour after the event concludes. The FAA gives further detail in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM.)
- Do I have to notify all airports within five miles of where I want to fly recreationally?
Yes, you must contact any airports (including heliports and sea-based airports) and air traffic control towers within five miles of your proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 336).
- Can an airport operator object to model aircraft flights near an airport?
Yes, an airport operator can object to the proposed use of a model aircraft within five miles of an airport if the proposed activity would endanger the safety of the airspace. However, the airport operator cannot prohibit or prevent the model aircraft operator from operating within five miles of the airport. Unsafe flying in spite of the objection of an airport operator may be evidence that the operator was endangering the safety of the National Airspace System. Additionally, the UAS operator must comply with any applicable airspace requirements.
Aeronautical Knowledge Testing/Remote Pilot Certification
- I already have a pilot certificate issued under part 61. Do I need to obtain a remote pilot certificate to fly a UAS under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107)?
Yes. To act as a remote pilot in command under Part 107, a person must have a remote pilot certificate. However, part 61 pilot certificate holders who have completed a flight review within the past 24 months may elect to take an online training course focusing on UAS-specific areas of knowledge instead of the aeronautical knowledge test. All other members of the public must take and pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test to obtain a remote pilot certificate.
- When will the aeronautical knowledge test at testing centers be available?
Members of the public will be able to take the aeronautical knowledge test at testing centers on the effective date of the Small UAS Rule, August 29, 2016.
- When will the online training be available for current pilot certificate holders?
Online training for current pilot certificate holders is currently available at www.faasafety.gov. Upon completion of the course, airmen must wait until Part 107 is effective (August 29, 2016) to complete the necessary form in IACRA.
- How can I find the closest FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center to me?
A list of Knowledge Testing Centers (PDF) is available.
- Where can I find study materials for the aeronautical knowledge test?
There are four resources available: 1) the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PDF); 2) online sample questions (PDF); 3) the Part 107 online training course available at faasafety.gov; and 4) the Part 107 Advisory Circular (PDF).
- How much does it cost to get a remote pilot certificate?
We anticipate that Knowledge Testing Centers will charge approximately $150 to people seeking to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test.
- Will the FAA recognize any previous UAS training I’ve taken?
No. However, prior military or civil aviation-related training may be helpful to new applicants preparing for the aeronautical knowledge test. There is no required practical training to fly under the Part 107 rule or to get a remote pilot certificate.
- Once I complete the aeronautical knowledge test at one of the approved centers, what is the process for obtaining my pilot certificate from the FAA?
After you have passed the initial aeronautical knowledge test, you will then complete the FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (known as IACRA) to receive a remote pilot certificate. IACRA is a web-based certification/rating application that ensures you meet the requirements and electronically submits the application to the FAA’s Airman Registry. Applications should be validated within 10 days. Applicants will then receive instructions for printing their temporary airman certificate, which is good for 120 days. The FAA will then mail you your permanent Remote Pilot Certificate within that 120 days.
- What happens if I fail the aeronautical knowledge test? How soon can I retake the test?
You may retake the test after 14 days.
- What do I need to bring with me to take the aeronautical knowledge test?
All applicants must bring a valid and current form of identification that includes their photo, date of birth, signature, and physical residential address. Acceptable forms of identification include:
|U.S. Citizen and Resident Aliens||Non-U.S. Citizens|
Permissions, Authorizations, Waivers, and Exemptions
- Do I need a Section 333 exemption, or any other kind of special permission, to fly once the Part 107 rule becomes effective?
If you are operating a small UAS, once you have obtained your remote pilot certificate, and registered your aircraft, you can fly in Class G airspace as long as you follow all the operating requirements in the small UAS Rule (Part 107).However, you will need special permission if you want to fly in any controlled airspace (PDF) (Classes B, C, D, or E), or if you want to deviate from any of the operational requirements contained in the Small UAS Rule (Part 107), including flying at night, or over people). Additionally, Part 107 does not apply to operations using UAS that weigh 55 lbs. or more these operations will still require authorization through the Section 333 exemption process.
- What happens to my Section 333 exemption when the Part 107 rule becomes effective in August?
Your Section 333 exemption remains valid until it expires. You may continue to fly following the conditions and limitations in your exemption. If your operation can be conducted under the requirements in the Part 107, you may elect to operate under Part 107. However, if you wish to operate under part 107, you must obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow all the operating rules of Part 107.
- Can my blanket Section 333 Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) transfer to my UAS operation under part 107?
No. If you fly following the requirements of Part 107, you must comply with the operating provisions specified in part 107. Part 107 limits your altitude to 400 feet unless your unmanned aircraft is flying within 400 feet of a structure (in which case you may not fly higher than 400 feet above the top of that structure). Part 107 also limits your operation to Class G airspace unless you obtain FAA permission prior to the operation to fly in controlled airspace. The blanket COA issued with your Section 333 exemption is only valid if you continue flying using the conditions and limitations in your exemption.
- Am I better off flying under the Part 107 rule or my Section 333 exemption?
It depends on what you want to do. UAS operators need to compare the conditions and limitations in their individual Section 333 exemption to the operating requirements in the Part 107 rule to determine which operating rules best address their needs.
- Can I use the new airmen certification to fulfill the pilot-in-command requirement of my Section 333 exemption?
No. You cannot “mix and match” the conditions and limitations in your Section 333 exemption with the Part 107 rule operating requirements. Section 333 exemption holders have two choices:
- Continue to fly using their Section 333 exemption, following the conditions and limitations in the exemption
- Get a remote pilot certificate and start flying under the Part 107 rule, following all operating rules and requirements.
- Is the new Small UAS Rule retroactively applied to 333 exemption holders?
No. Current Section 333 exemption holders have two choices:
- Continue to fly using their Section 333 exemption, following the conditions and limitations in the exemption
- Get a remote pilot certificate and start flying under the Part 107 rule, following all operating rules and requirements of Part 107.
- I already applied for a Section 333 exemption. What do I do?
In the coming weeks, the FAA will contact you with specific information about the status of your Section 333 petition.
- What about all the pending requests for amendments to existing Section 333 exemptions?
In the coming weeks, the FAA will contact you with specific information about the status of your Section 333 petition.
- Will the FAA be issuing renewals for current Section 333 exemptions?
For the most part, no. If your operation can be flown under the Part 107 rule, the FAA will not renew your exemption once it expires. If you cannot operate under the requirements of the Small UAS Rule, you will need to renew your Section 333 petition once it expires.
- How do I apply for a waiver to the requirements of the Part 107 rule?
Waivers are special permissions the FAA issues to authorize certain types of UAS operations not covered under the Part 107 rule. An online portal will be available through www.faa.gov/uas for people to apply for these waivers.
- Once I submit my waiver request, how long before the FAA makes a decision? And how will I be notified?
Waiver processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the request. We encourage applicants to submit waiver requests well in advance of when they need a waiver – 90 days is strongly encouraged. Applicants will be notified via email about the outcome of their waiver processing.
- Will I still need a COA to fly under the Part 107 rule?
If you already have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), you can continue to fly under those COA requirements until it expires. Section 333 exemption holders may operate under the terms of their exemptions and COAs until they expire. Public aircraft operators such as law enforcement agencies, state or local governments, or public universities may continue to operate under the terms of their COAs.If you don’t already have a Section 333 exemption and associated COA, and you are not conducting a public aircraft operation, you probably don’t need one now that Part 107 is out. Starting in August 2016, civil UAS operations flown under the new rules will not require the UAS operator to get a COA.Please contact the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization for more information.
- Why do I need to register my UAS?
Federal law requires that all aircraft (which includes UAS and radio/remote controlled aircraft) flown outdoors must be registered with the FAA and marked with a registration number. UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds may register online at https://registermyuas.faa.gov/ or by using the legacy paper based registration process. The weight limit includes everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff.
- What is the difference between registering a UAS flown for fun vs. UAS flown for work or business?
If you fly your UAS for hobby or recreational purposes and you use the web-based registration process to register your aircraft, you only need to register once and then apply your registration number to as many UAS as you want. Recreational registrants only need to provide their name, address, and email address. The $5 registration fee covers all recreational UAS owned by the registrant.Unmanned aircraft flown for work or business must be registered individually by the owner, and each registration costs $5. Registrants must supply their name, address, and email address, in addition to the make, model, and serial number (if available) for each UAS they want to fly.
- Do I always have to have my Certificate of Aircraft Registration with me while flying my UAS?
Yes. You must have the FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating an unmanned aircraft. The certificate can be available either on paper or electronically.If another person operates your UAS, they must have the UAS registration certificate in their possession. You can give them a paper copy or email a copy to them.Federal law requires UAS operators to show the certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked. You can show it electronically or show the printed certificate.
- If I’m just flying my UAS inside a building, or in my own yard, do I have to register it?
If you’re flying indoors, you do not need to register your unmanned aircraft as the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use. However, when flying in your own yard or over your own property, you will need to register your UAS if the UAS weighs more than 0.55 pounds.
- If my UAS weighs more than 55 lbs., what are the registration requirements?
It must be registered using the FAA’s paper-based registration process.
- I’m a foreign national and want to fly my UAS in the U.S. on vacation. Do I have to register before flying?
If you are a foreign national and you are not eligible to register your sUAS in the United States there are two ways for you to operate. If you want to operate your UAS exclusively as model aircraft you must complete the steps in the web-based registration process and obtain a “recognition of ownership.” This recognition of ownership is required by the Department of Transportation to operate a model aircraft in the United States. Alternatively, if you want to operate your UAS as a non-model aircraft you must register your UAS in the country in which you are eligible to register and obtain operating authority from the Department of Transportation.NOTE: The FAA’s online registration website can only be accessed from a computer located in the United States or its territories or possessions.
- If my UAS is destroyed or is sold, lost, or transferred, do I need to do anything?
If you registered your UAS under the legacy paper-based registration process, you should cancel your registration.If you registered your UAS under the web-based registration process, the FAA recommends that you remove your registration number from the UAS before relinquishing it in accordance with a sale or transfer. In the future, we expect the web-based registration system to allow UAS owners to cancel a registration on-line.
- How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with my unique registration number?
If you complete registration using the web-based registration process and satisfy the registration requirements, you may use a permanent marker, label, or engraving, as long as the number remains affixed to the aircraft during routine handling and all operating conditions and is readily accessible and legible upon close visual inspection. The number may also be enclosed in a compartment that is readily accessible, such as a battery compartment.Requirements for marking unmanned aircraft registered in accordance with the legacy registration system can be found in 14 CFR Part 45, subpart C. Guidance material on aircraft marking requirements in Part 45 can be found in Advisory Circular No. 45-2E Identification and Registration Marking.
- When I provide my registration information, is it publicly available?
The web-based UAS registration database is not searchable at this time. The FAA and the FAA contractor who maintain the website and database will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data.As described in the applicable Privacy Act System of Records Notice for aircraft registration information, the public may search for aircraft information in the legacy, paper-based aircraft registration system by the aircraft registration number, aircraft owner name, and aircraft owner state/county or territory/county.
- I don’t have access to a computer to register. Is there a form?
There are two registration systems available to sUAS owners – the web-based system designed exclusively for small unmanned aircraft and the legacy paper-based registration system. If you don’t have access to a computer to register, you may use the paper registration process.
- Can I transfer my model registration to non-model registration?
Only the web-based registration system distinguishes model sUAS registration requirements from non-model sUAS registration requirements.At this time, the web-based registration system does not permit this type of transfer. You must complete registration as a non-modeler and provide specific aircraft information such as manufacturer name, model number and serial number, if applicable.
- Is there a penalty for failing to register?
Failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.There is no one-size-fits-all enforcement action for violations. All aspects of a violation will be considered, along with mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the violation. In general, the FAA will attempt to educate operators who fail to comply with registration requirements. However, fines will remain an option when egregious circumstances are present.
- Who do I contact with registration questions or problems?
You may email registration questions to UASregistration@faa.gov. Live phone support is also available at (877) 396-4636 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.