USA Simple Commercial Flight Rules land in 60 days time

Part 107 lives, the starting gun has fired.

Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

“We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world.”

According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations.

Of course we all knew this was coming today, welll sort of knew.

Views: 1332

Comment by Stephen Zidek on June 21, 2016 at 10:34am

Excellent, how do I get the certification?  Is it available yet?

Comment by Gary McCray on June 21, 2016 at 11:19am

Hi Gary,

I notice on your SUAS site you give an actual breakdown of the contents of the rule.

Overall, this is a huge breath of fresh air after the initial extremely restrictive regulations that also required the UAS pilot to be a current registered manned aircraft private pilot.

It does appear that the new regulations will permit non-manned aircraft pilots to easily also qualify, but the wording is a bit strange.

Possibly someone could clarify for me this sentence:

" To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA."

This seems to say you can either pass a simple aeronautical knowledge test or be a certified current private pilot who has also taken a UAS on line training course.

Seemingly, rather like saying you can either take a one day class in Kindergarten or be a PHD graduate to qualify to fly commercial UAS.

Maybe I missed something.

Also, does or will the FAA actually have the facilities for either the Aeronautical knowledge test or the on line course?

This really seems a great thing, but that particular requirement while potentially the most important part of the whole thing is weird to say the least.

If it is a straight forward as it seems, I would really like to be the one to write the book that tells you what you need to know to pass the FAA's "initial Aeronautical Information" test.

Whoever writes that book is going to have a big audience.

Best Regards,


Comment by Harry Courter on June 21, 2016 at 11:43am

As Gary stated, its not to bad.

Questions I am left with...

It looks like the 333 exception will be no longer relevant as of September?

Commercial operations will be permitted under FAA 107, so no exception needed? 

"N" registration number not required for "compliant" UAV commercial use?

Comment by Jason Franciosa on June 21, 2016 at 12:27pm

333 Exemptions are still valid

Comment by David Boulanger on June 21, 2016 at 12:35pm

Finally!!  Wonder what the test fee will be.  Saw an estimate a while back that was in the thousand of dollars.


David R. Boulanger

Comment by Harry Courter on June 21, 2016 at 12:54pm

The FAA 107 includes the statement:

"To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or..."

Several different Aeronautical Knowledge Test seen to be available.  I would think the "Recreational and Private Pilot" knowledge test is what is needed.   Anyone actually know?

Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 21, 2016 at 1:33pm

Test fee is said to be $150, its a great move forward as all the dodgy schools that have popped up recently are now out of business.

The knowledge test is in fact portions of the basic test with some add on UA bits.

333's will run until they expire which is two years. There will be cases where a 333 holder can do stuff with a COA that a 107 holder can't.

Comment by Gary McCray on June 21, 2016 at 1:45pm

Hi Gary,

I was wondering test fee cost also, really happy to know it is fixed and will be so reasonable.

And from what you are saying it will be a custom UAS test and actually cover the right stuff.

Really didn't need to know runway and tower communication protocol and winds aloft probably not so much use either.

I take it from what I have read N Numbers will not be required, although will probably have same requirement for pilot registration number to be on all UAS as hobby use now has.

If anyone has a different take on this please speak up.

Actually looks like the FAA might finally be getting it right, it is definitely renewing my interest in this.

Best Regards,


Comment by David Boulanger on June 21, 2016 at 1:52pm

I thought I saw something a few months ago in the proposed rule 107 notification that was published by the FAA with a break down of the costs involved.  It included education, test fees, drive time, lose of wages to be there, etc.  It was north of $5000.  I hope it was all a bad dream.  Not sure what a initial aeronautical test means to the FAA.  At any rate, this is a move in the proper direction.


David R. Boulanger

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on June 21, 2016 at 3:38pm

This all looks really good to me.  Bravo to the FAA.  A lot of hints that they really 'get it'.  Such as:

"...FAA anticipates that this final rule will provide an opportunity to substitute small UAS operations for some risky manned flights, such as inspection of houses, towers, bridges, or parks, thereby averting potential fatalities and injuries."


"To address the concerns expressed by commenters requesting higher operating altitudes in proximity to buildings, towers, power lines, and other tall structures for the purposes of inspections and repair, the FAA is establishing new provisions in the final rule that will enable those operations in a way that does not compromise aviation safety. Specifically, the FAA notes that 14 CFR 91.119 generally prohibits manned aircraft from operating in close proximity to structures. Section 91.119 requires manned aircraft to stay 500 to 1,000 feet away from the structure, depending on whether the area is congested. Because manned aircraft are not permitted to operate in close proximity to structures, this rule will allow a small unmanned aircraft to fly higher than 400 feet AGL as long as that aircraft remains within a 400-foot radius of a structure up to an altitude of 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. Allowing higher-altitude small UAS operations within a 400-foot lateral limit of a structure will enable additional operations (such as tower inspection and repair) while maintaining separation between small unmanned aircraft and most manned aircraft operations."

IMO, it would be more than fine even if the licensing requirements were $5000. It's worth it to get rules like this, compared to the nightmare scenario currently transpiring in Canada.


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