New Small UAS Rule Effective Monday

August 26, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

During the past several years it often seemed like the day would never come. But Monday, August 29, the new FAA rule for integrating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace is effective. The rule applies to all UAS weighing less than 55 pounds (sUAS) that are flown for commercial (not hobby) purposes. Any farming use falls into the commercial-use category. Operators can continue to fly a sUAS for fun without permission from the FAA. All sUAS operators, however, must register their aircraft with FAA through a straightforward, online registration process. Registrants must be 13 years of age or older. The operator must label the aircraft with the official registration number generated during the registration process.

As we told you in June when the small UAS rule was issued, 14 CFR part 107 (Part 107) opens the skies for many new sUAS to fly commercially without lengthy or burdensome procedural barriers.

Operators must have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. But the requirements to obtain the certificate are straightforward:

  • Be at least 16 years old,
  • Speak and write English,
  • Be in physical and mental condition sufficient to safely fly a small UAS,
  • Complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting process AND
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.

The FAA provides links to study guides, sample questions, and standards for the exam. It also provides a list of FAA-approved knowledge testing centers where the exam will be given. The cost to take the exam should be around $150. Persons who currently hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61 and have successfully completed a flight review within the previous 24 months can complete a part 107 online training course at to satisfy this requirement. To retain the certificate, all remote pilots will be required to pass a test every two years.

The FAA has provided a helpful summary of the new rule, including flight and record-keeping requirements imposed upon all small UAS operators.

The new rule also provides a waiver request procedure for operators who wish to fly their sUAS outside of the bounds of the new rule. The waiver request site is here.

We'll keep you posted as activity under this new rule begins! This will no doubt prompt many new proposals for updated privacy, trespassing, or nuisance laws relating to the increase in overhead traffic.