Differences in Policies Affecting the Operation of Small UAS

Published: 2021-07-08
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There are several differences in policies affecting the operation of small UAS after the passing of the small UAS Part 107 rule. Some small UAS operate under the Part 107 rule for small UAS, while others can qualify to make an application for a credential of waiver under Part 107 exemption, making them exempted from complying with some specific restrictions covered under the small UAS Part 107 rule.

Commercial application of small UAS operations on Part 107

The recently added law for small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was created by adding Part 107 as an addendum to the previously existing FAA policies under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). This addition now makes it possible for civilians to operate their small UAS routinely within established safety rules to mitigate risk in the National Airspace System (NAS). Part 107 requires that small UAS as those aircraft that fly without a human pilot on board, and they should be weighing 55 pounds (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Part 107 also places a requirement for the small UAS to operate in daylight or in civil twilight operations where the aircraft is fitted with proper lighting to avoid a collision. It also limits the small UAS to operate under visibility and sight and confined areas of operation (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017).

The small UAS Part 107 rule introduces requirements for remote pilot certification, operational limits, airspace restrictions, and visual observer requirements (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). These are aimed at mitigating the risk to civil aviation safety in the National Airspace System. They also concentrate on possible concerns of a threat to national security that may be caused by the unregulated flight of the tiny UAS in the National Airspace System. Major provisions of the small UAS Part 107 rule are that small UAS need to weigh 55 Lbs/25 kg. The tiny UAS need to operation within visibility only, where the secluded operator manipulating flight controls for the aircraft maintains the sight of the plane (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). When flying the UAS, the plane must not fly under a covered structure. Neither should they fly over an individual not participating straight in the flight of the airplane. Such restrictions also prohibit flying the small UAS inside a stationary vehicle that is covered.

The small UAS can also operate in daylight-only operations- allowing the secluded pilot operating the flight controls for the aircraft to maintain sight of the aircraft. The small UAS Part 107 also requires that the small UAS must give the other aircraft the right of way (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Operators must also stay within the ceiling groundspeed limit of one hundred mph and the highest altitude of four hundred feet beyond structure, or four hundred feet over the ground level. The UAS Part 107 rule also stipulates that the operators for the small UAS may choose to use visual observers, though this is not a strict requirement. Operators can also fly small UAS starting some thirty minutes prior to the authorized sunrise in their local time or some thirty minutes after the certified sunset in their regional time (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Such operation is covered in civil twilight activities that require the small UAS to have appropriate lighting to support anti-collision. Upon ATC approval, operators can use their small UAS under operations in surface areas listed under Class E, C, D, and B. The players do not need ATC approval to conduct operations in airspace covered under Class G. The small UAS Part 107 rule also requires that small UAS should not carry hazardous materials.

The small UAS Part 107 rule also prohibits reckless and careless operations of the small UAS. Notably, the Part 107 rule does not require the small UAS to acquire air accreditation. However, it prohibits operation of the tiny UAS from a moving aircraft. Such prohibitions also apply to operations of small UAS from a vehicle in motion, except in circumstances where the maneuver of the UAS is being done in an area with a sparse population (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). There is also a requirement that the operations of small UAS should be done above the lowest weather visibility of six kilometers from the position where the operator is controlling the aircraft. In addition to these minimum visibility requirements, also maintain the small UAS must at a distance of 500 feet from clouds.

Commercial application of small UAS operations on Part 107 Waiver

In cognition of the rapid technological change that characterizes the development of the small UAS, the Part 107 rule has a section that introduces a mechanism for individuals to obtain a waiver in some of the restrictions indicated under the rule. Such different operations need to get a Certificate of Waiver from the Administrator before the small UAS can be allowed to forego some specific restrictions covered under the small UAS Part 107 rule (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Notably, the Part 107 rule does not affect the model aircraft, meaning, the operators of model aircraft should abide by the provisions of Section 336 of Public Law 112-95. If it is determined by the Federal Aviation Administration supervisor that an operation proposed by an applicant operator can be performed safely, it can resolve to waive specific sections of the small UAS Part 107 rules. These may include provisions such as the requirements for a visual observer to operate small UAS, operators wanting to use multiple small UAS, and the requirements for daylight operation (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Other provisions that may be waived include the rules on the operation of the aircraft over people and the prerequisite for UAS to give other aircraft the right of way.

107 Exemptions

Operators seeking to fly UAS that weight 55 lbs and above at takeoff need to follow an exception process defined under section 333. They would be expected to follow similar aircraft requirements for operators flying small UAS weighing below 55 lbs. A case-by-case basis would be used to evaluate pilot requirements. Section 333 creates an exemption process to grant operational approval, certify and register an aircraft, and to confirm that the pilot is licensed (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). Certificate of Authorization is used by the Secretary of Transportation to authorize the operation of small UAS, after their requests for services are evaluated and considered safe.

A Special Airworthiness Certificate may be given to approve that UAS weighing above 55 lbs are airworthy and non-risky to other pilots and civilians in the National Airspace System (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017).



Federal Aviation Administration, (2017).Section 333. Available at <https://www.faa.gov/uas/beyond_the_basics/section_333/> Viewed on 26th Jun 2017.

Federal Aviation Administration, (2017).Waivers to Certain Small UAS Operating Rules. Available at < https://www.faa.gov/uas/beyond_the_basics/#waiver>Viewed on 26th Jun 2017.

Federal Aviation Administration, (2017).FAA sUAS PART 107: THE SMALL UAS RULE. Available at <https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/faa-uas-part107-flyer.pdf>Viewed on 26th Jun 2017.


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