by Lindsey Forson
The FAA has released its long-awaited new rules for small drone operations! These regulations apply to the use of any unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds for any reasons other than for hobby or recreational purposes. The rules, of course, apply to operating small drones as a part of your photography business.
As expected, the finalized rules are very similar to those which were proposed by the FAA in February 2015. According to these new rules, you will no longer be required to obtain an exemption from the FAA and hold a manned aircraft pilot's license to offer drone photography services. Instead, you will be able to become a certified UAS operator (or "Remote Pilot in Command") by passing a computerized knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center.
FAA certified small UAS operators will be required to meet specified criteria (age requirement, English language proficiency requirement, health requirements, etc.), follow instructions for maintaining and inspecting the aircraft, and stay within FAA-specified operational limitations (some of which are summarized below).
Operational limitations include (but are not limited to):
- Daylight-only operations
- Operations in Class G airspace only without permission from air traffic control (in Class B, C, D, or E with permission)
- Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level
- Maximum airspeed of 100 mph
- UAS may not operate directly over any person not directly involved in the operation
Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!