- 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 email@example.com or by calling 844-FLY-MY-UA.
- Is the Small UAS Rule effective?
Yes. The Small UAS Rule came into effect on August 29, 2016.
Flying Drone 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 throughwww.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 spirits 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)
For more information Visit our “Fly for Fun” webpage for safety rules and guidelines that apply to recreational or hobby UAS operations under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
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
For more information visit our “Fly for Work” webpage for rules that apply to UAS operations under Part 107.
- 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.