3D Robotics

FAA officially permits drone use by farmers


Great news from the AMA: The FAA has clarified its rules (which were assumed but not confirmed) that private use of drones over their own property is allowed now:

November 25th… In an online news story by Oklahoma City Channel 9 News, FAA effectively endorsed AMA’s safety guidelines for the personal use of sUAS for agricultural applications. As reported by Justin Dougherty

“Farmers may operate an unmanned aircraft over their own property for personal use … Guidelines for the operation of model aircraft, such as those published by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may be used by farmers as reference for safe model UAS operations.”

PL 112-95 enacted by Congress as part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, provides that individuals operating small unmanned aircraft (model aircraft) for personal use may do so within the programming of a recognized community-based organization (AMA) and in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines.

Click the link below to read the Channel 9 report…

Oklahoma Farmers Use Drones To Monitor Crops, Cattle

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  • T3

    Why are you so happy? This was the status of things since I remember (2008?) in US. Still you cannot fly commercially over somebody's field.

    Now take the following chain of events:

    -It is assumed that you can fly for you but cannot commercially, yet there is hope somebody could widen the range of admissible applications

    -a new rulemaker added to the mix of vague laws, FAA, is hesitating

    Under those assumptions, it is beneficial to keep them hesitating or declare widened area of applications, because as long as they hesitate, they can narrow, hold, or enlarge the possibilities what means you can win, lose or hold and the game goes on

    Once they reiterate old limits, they can only further restrict the use (proprty regulations terrain subtypes etc) so you can only stay or loose a little.

    Therefore FAA 'confirming' what everybody knew, applied in practice and it seemed to be compatible with the laws, then, it must be strategically seen as a loss since there are regions in the world where the law is less strict.

  • I read these things and my instinct is always the same - Shut up and do it, stop looking for the government to tell you what your rights are and instead tell them you are within your rights with or without their blessing.  Trappy comes close to doing this. 

  • Moderator

    Before ARC 1 the FAA were along with DHS pushing for RC to be allowed only at AMA fields and outside of controlled airspace. That did not go down well. The FAA want all RC flying under the banner of a community based organisation. That community based organisation is the AMA. The AMA is no longer at the UAS talks table being happy with the outcome of HR 658 and having their position underlined. So UAS provision is now being handled for you by the DOD vendors. They head all the committees.

    Lets hope that the meeting before congress that Chris mentioned earlier this week actually has some useful folks at it and not some hand picked multi fyers that won't really make a decent case. Either way the FAA believe they have it in hand. First civil trial outside of Alaska pegged for 2017.

  • @Gary McCray,  I was wondering the same thing actually. 

  • Developer

    There is something askew here. The original FAA quote is as follows.

    Farmers may operate an unmanned aircraft over their own property for personal use and Guidelines for the operation of model aircraft, such as those published by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may be used by farmers as reference for safe model UAS operations.

    This is just a confirmation that lacking specific regulations, private owned UAS is still considered R/C by FAA. And as such they reefer to established AMA guidelines for how to safely operate a R/C vehicle over your private property. Nowhere in that statement do they sanction agricultural applications.

  • Moderator

    No you can't sell aerial images or data derived from aerial images yet.

  • Does this allow for the scenario where I sell aerial mapping to property (farm) owners for compensation as long as the AMA guidelines are observed. Or does the farmer have to own and operate the drone him/herself.

  • Hi Chris,

    Isn't this just a republication of this earlier Blog information by Joshua?


    Or is it the fact that the AMA has acknowledged the same TV broadcast that is new?

    And in fact the referenced PL-112-95 section 336 which is part of the definition of this law actually restricts model aircraft use as follows: 

    (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational

    The words personal use are not in the referenced legislation and any such interpretation in fact represents new policy that is separate from the referenced document.

  • The lack of attribution of this supposed quote from the FAA is really weird.  What has happened to professionalism in journalism?

    Another problem, is that the quote states that "personal use" is OK.  However, the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reauthorization Act (PL 112-95)  says nothing about "personal use" in the sections on UAS.  Rather it is "hobby and recreational use."  (2012 FMRA Section 336(a)(1)).  So a farmer can use a UAS for recreational use, but if he's flying a camera it would be hard to claim the recreational exemption.

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