New regulations for commercial small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS or “drones”) will take effect in the United States on August 27, 2016. These new rules, referred to as Part 107, contain a real gem that not many folks are discussing. In fact, I think it may be the most important rule of the entire Part 107.
First of all, a very, very big caveat!! I am not a lawyer nor a pilot so take everything in this article with a big grain of salt. I am not responsible for misinterpreting Part 107 and I won’t come visit you in jail! After all, if you have read it cover to cover (as I have) you will realize it is not the easiest document to summarize!
Our subsidiary company, AirGon LLC, has an FAA 333 exemption to commercially fly sUAS. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars on private pilot training for our field service technicians over the past year. While the requirements for piloting an sUAS are greatly simplified in Part 107, they are not quite as simple as was presented in the original FAA Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The term Pilot in Command (PIC) remains (a new classification called Remote Pilot) and the testing (for those who do not already have an FAA airman’s certificate) cannot be done online. Still, this is considerably less expensive and less nonsensical than the current 333 rules.