On August 29th, 2016 the commercial drone industry changed forever. That’s the day the new Small UAS Rule, aka Part 107, went into effect. Although the details around Part 107 were announced back in June, August 29th represents a critical moment for the industry as a whole since it’s the first day people could legally operate under Part 107.
Of course, anyone who is unfamiliar with Part 107 or had been waiting specifically for this moment to investigate how drones could or would be a fit for their business might not know how this actually changes things. What exactly do people need to do in order to legally fly under Part 107? How difficult of a process is it? Does Part 107 cover everything?
Up until this point, the only way to legally operate a drone for commercial purposes was to file for and receive a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA. How does Part 107 impact anyone who already has a 333? Will you be able to do the same things under Part 107 that you were cleared for with a 333? What are the similarities and differences between Part 107 and Section 333? Asking these questions about Part 107 is something that everyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial purposes needs to do. The answers for individuals and organizations as a whole will vary, but it’s essential for operators of all types and sizes to understand the impact of Part 107.
The new rules for non-hobbyist small unmanned aircraft (UAS) operations, aka Part 107, establish various stipulations for anyone who wants to operate a drone for commercial purposes. Those conditions have details associated with operating requirements, pilot certification, UAS certification, privacy and responsibilities as a pilot in command.
While there are critical stipulations for each set of requirements, what’s important to note is how those details define what it means to legally fly a drone. Meeting these requirements will be all some people need to do to fly the way they want for their business. It’s something Greg S. Walden, a senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, DC, noted. “It really depends on where you sit,” said Walden. “If you happen to be a real estate professional and all you want to do is fly your drone above houses, then you can look at Part 107 and realize you can do everything. You don’t need anything else.”
That distinction means that Part 107 doesn’t inherently cover all of the things a user might want to do. Part 107 opens up the sky for the commercial operation of a drone in a powerful way, but it is still limited in scope and specifically prohibits certain types of operation.
Additionally, the options for government agencies are somewhat more nuanced with Part 107 as a viable option. Nonetheless, simply having Part 107 as a starting place is especially powerful for anyone taking a serious look at the technology. While Part 107 is not all-encompassing, many operators will find they can do everything they want and need simply by flying under and complying with the new rule.
Filed Under: O&M