Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs regarding UAS for critical infrastructure owners and operators.

Do I need to register my unmanned aircraft system?

All unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that weigh more than 0.55 lbs (250 grams) must be registered. However, UAS that are operated exclusively in compliance with Public Law 112-95 Section 336 (Special rule for model aircraft) , are not required to register at this time. More information is available on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS Registration webpage.

What types of organizations are commonly approved for Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) that restrict only UAS?

TFRs can be requested by national defense, national security, and federal intelligence departments and agencies, and can be sponsored by one of the above three federal department agency authorities in the interest of national security at the behest of other government or private sector entities. Also, a law enforcement agency may request a TFR under 14 CFR 91.137(a)  where they would have authority to allow certain aircraft into the TFR. Additional details can be found on the FAA Airspace Restrictions webpage.

The FAA also has a list of all TRFs.

What is required to fly a UAS for work or business purposes (non-recreational)?

To operate a UAS for business purposes, reference the regulatory framework for flying non-certificated UAS under the Small UAS rule (Part 107)  which outlines requirements for obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate, Operational Waiver, or Airspace Authorization issued by the FAA. There is also an opportunity via Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) exemption for aircraft 55 lbs or more, or by obtaining appropriate airworthiness certification.

How can you find out where it is acceptable to fly a UAS and where it is not?

B4UFLY is a free mobile app to help UAS operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly. The app is free to download, provides a “status” indicator to inform the operator of restrictions, and offers informed future flight planning aids.  FAA also provides an ArcGIS site for advanced facility mapping and flight restriction visualization.

Do you need to obtain a remote pilot certificate to fly a UAS under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107) if you have a pilot certificate issued under Part 61?

Yes. Under Part 107, a pilot in command must have a Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating. However, Part 61 pilot certificate holders  who have completed a flight review within the past 24 months may elect to qualify for the Remote Pilot Certificate by taking an online training course focusing on UAS knowledge instead of the aeronautical knowledge test.  

What rules apply to federal, state, and local governments who have mission-specific UAS needs, such as search and rescue?

Public agencies can elect to operate under Small UAS rule Part 107 and may apply for waivers and authorizations necessary to meet mission-specific needs. Alternatively, eligible public aircraft operators can apply for a public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization that may provide a set of operational provisions tailored to their specific needs.

What types of UAS airspace awareness technologies are legal for critical infrastructure locations?

UAS can be identified by audio signature, but the technology does not currently indicate if the UAS is carrying a payload—visual identification would be needed. Other UAS sensor detection systems are currently being evaluated. Additional details can be found on the FAA Pathfinder Initiative webpages.

Also, check local, state, and federal statutes before developing or updating your UAS business plan strategy.

What should you do if a UAS crashes, hurts someone, damages property, or is seen being flown in a reckless manner?

Flying a UAS in a manner determined to be reckless or careless may be a violation of federal FAA safety regulations that could result in civil penalties or certificate action against the operator. Violation of state and local codes may result in criminal prosecution.

Contact local law enforcement to report an incident—they will contact the FAA if the investigation requires FAA participation.

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