On June 21, 2016, FAA released the much anticipated new Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drone regulations, also referred to as Part 107. These rules go in effect Aug. 29, 2016, and cover a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds (take‐off weight), writes Michigan State University Extension’s George Silva.
One of the most significant changes is that commercial operations that fit within the framework of Part 107 will no longer require Federal Aviation Administration approval by exemption, which has typically taken months to secure. Previously, commercial operators needed a “Section 333 exemption,” which allowed an operator with a Federal Aviation Administration-approved certificate of authorization to fly in the National Airspace. Needless to say, these certification rules restricted and discouraged the potential use of drones for agriculture and many other commercial purposes.
The new Part 107 regulations seek to ease some of these restrictions by establishing a new certified “Remote Pilot in Command” (R-PIC) position and a remote pilot certification process. The person operating the small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot airman certificate.
To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, you will have to be at least 16 years old and pass an initial in-person aeronautical knowledge test at a Federal Aviation Administration‐approved testing center. If you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate other than a student pilot certificate, then the requirements are to complete a flight review within the previous 24 months and complete a small UAS online training course provided by the Federal Aviation Administration. Before the certificate is issued, you will be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration for background checks.