On September 4th, Nolan passed his FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) knowledge test for sUAG (small Unmanned Aircraft – General), making him a Licensed commercial operator! This certification is the first step in the advancement of his career in photo and video.
What does Part 107 mean?
In the last ten years, the availability of drones has risen from building them yourself from specialty parts ordered online, to having their own shelf at your local Wal-Mart. Its no doubt that drones are a fun hobby and many people have picked one up to try their hands at the excitement of flight! Most affordable drones are simple quadcopters that fly for 5-10 minutes and have a very limited range, similar to a model airplane. More recently companies like DJI and Parrot have mastered the meaning of the word drone, making a craft that uses GPS and high-frequency controls to fly for long distances and high altitudes. We have all heard stories of drones flying where they weren’t supposed to, risking life and property to try and get a cool shot. The FAA has taken note of these occurrences and really cracked down on people flying in unsafe manners.
The FAA has created an entire set of rules devoted to keeping drones from being a hazard to ground and air traffic. This set of rules can be met with serious penalties if broken, including up to 10 years in prison or a fine of $250,000 dollars. For the basic drone enthusiast you are required to follow these rules:
- All persons wanting to fly a drone must register it with the FAA and mark the drone with an ID number
- You must be able to watch your drone at all times, FPV cameras don’t count.
- You cannot fly over 400 feet.
- You cannot fly over people, moving vehicles, or populated places like Stadiums or events.
- You cannot fly at night or in inclement weather.
- You cannot fly within 5 miles of airports.
- There are certain areas that will be no-fly zones at different times, it is up to you to know them.
- You cannot use the drone in any way for the furtherance of a business.
Part 107 is a set of rules and knowledge you must know in order to fly your drone in a commercial manner. Passing your Part 107 test means you know how to operate your drone in a manner that is in line with the FAA’s rules for manned aircraft and you should not pose a danger to others.
Why do you need a Part 107 Certification?
The FAA restricts the use of drones for commercial purposes to those who have passed their knowledge test and can operate in a safe manner. The penalties for flying without your Part 107 sUAS rating can be pretty severe. The FAA can fine you up to $32,000 for each incidence. This fine can be compounded on a per-day basis, and if ignored can be increased to a criminal offense with punishments up to $250,000 and 3 years in jail.
Another reason your certification is important is the liability aspect. Insurance will not cover incidents involving a drone if you are not approved and licensed to fly one. Inversely, There are special insurance underwriters for commercial drone use only, offering per job and blanket coverage.
Possessing the skills to fly safely and professionally is only half the battle, you must also know the specific rules of airspace and air traffic to ensure that the project requested can be completed in a safe manner or without the FAA fining you and the company requesting your services.