FAA Drone Registration and Air Traffic Changes

July 7, 2017

The FAA has published a change to its operations and registration procedures. June 29, FAA order JO 7200.23A published updated information regarding the Small UAS Registration and Marking interim final. This update follows a result of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the small UAS registration program.

Specifically, the update affects the continued implementation of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 101, Special Rule for Model Aircraft, and 14 CFR, Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). The order makes special emphasis that from August 1 on it is the single source document for Air Traffic Organization (ATO) personnel, in any class of airspace.

The court's decision invalidated the registration requirement as it applies to certain model aircraft that meet the definitional and operational requirements provided in section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Changes:

  • Hobby owners of model aircraft which are operated in compliance with section 336 are not required to register.
  • Business and commercial use owners of all other small unmanned aircraft, including newly-purchased unmanned aircraft not operated exclusively in compliance with section 336, remain subject to the registration requirement.

Air traffic policy order

According to Commercial UAV News, automation being develop to process the large number of requests for authorization under 14 CFR Part 107 is not expected to be operational until 2018. In order to mitigate the impact of processing numerous requests on individual Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities, the FAA has developed a new procedure to authorize Part 107 operations.

Using parameters provided by the ATC facilities, the FAA is approving authorization on the facilities’ behalf. Because there are no control towers at full-time Class E airports, a safety panel was established to determine the criteria to be used by the FAA to approve operations.

Any operations that cannot be authorized within these parameters will be coordinated directly with the facility. This order adds procedures for authorizations in Class E surface areas and extensions.

Additionally, a new chapter was created dedicated to Special Governmental Interest (SGI) incorporating content originally found at FAA Order JO 7200.23.

The FAA continues to encourage voluntary registration for all owners of small unmanned aircraft.

The FAA is working on a final rule with respect to registration and marking that will implement the court's decision.

In the meantime, if you are an owner operating exclusively in compliance with section 336 and you wish to delete your registration and receive a refund of your registration fee, you may do so by accessing a registration deletion and self-certification form and mailing it to the FAA at the address designated on the form. Owners who already received a refund during the initial grace period are not eligible to receive a refund. This form has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for approval of the information collection.

Flying for Work/Business

As a refresher, here are the basic things an operator must know for flying under the small UAS rule (14 CFR part 107):

Pilot Requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center+
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

+A person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61 and has successfully completed a flight review within the previous 24 months can complete a part 107 online training course at www.faasafety.gov to satisfy this requirement.

Aircraft Requirements:

  • Less than 55 lbs.
  • Must be registered

Operating Rules:

  • Class G airspace*
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)*
  • Must fly under 400 feet*
  • Must fly during the day*
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must NOT fly over people*
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle*

*All rules are subject to waiver