New rules for recreational flyers

The FAA has announced new rules for recreational flyers, and – they’re confusing, mostly because some of the rules require things like passing a knowledge test (similar to that require of commercial flyers) which haven’t been put in place yet. The FAA assures that they will.

There’s a lot of chatter about this in the drone community – and a lot of really irked recreational flyers. But with more and more small unmanned aircraft in the skies, safety is a key concern. Commercial pilots with Part 107 authorization already fly under strict rules and regulations. It only makes sense to bring more recreational flyers into the fold of safe and legal flight.

These new rules are required by a law passed last fall. For now, they’re severely restrictive for recreational flyers because they effectively prohibit flight in controlled airspace. Here’s the FAA announcement, with links to the actual circular detailing what’s going on:

Recreational Flyers – Interim Safety Guidance Available to Explain How, When and Where You Can Fly Your Drone

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued interim safety guidance for recreational flyers that reinforces recent changes to how, when and where users can fly drones for recreational purposes.

The FAA’s Advisory Circular explains the conditions users must comply with in order to fly under the exception for recreational flyers, and simplifies information in the Federal Register Notice.

This AC outlines eight conditions:

  1. Fly strictly for recreational purposes.
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of a community based organization.
  3. Keep your drone within your line of sight, or within the visual line-of-sight of a visual observer who is co-located and in direct communication with you.
  4. Operate in a manner that does not interfere with, and gives way to, any manned aircraft.
  5. Do not fly in controlled airspace (around and above many airports) unless you are flying at a recreational flyer fixed site that has an agreement with the FAA.
    1. Flight in controlled airspace is temporarily limited to these fixed fields. The FAA is upgrading the online system, known as LAANC (the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability), so that recreational operations can get automated airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace. This system is currently only available for certified Part 107 drone pilots.
    2. Do not contact the local FAA Air Traffic facilities for airspace authorizations.
  6. Fly your drone at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace.
  7. Pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test.
  8. Register and externally mark your drone, and carry proof of registration with you.

Learn more about the rules you should follow to fly your drone safely.