Are you ready for the new small drone rule?

August 26, 2016  - By
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FAA clarifies changes before small drone rule takes effect

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new small drone rule — formally known as Part 107 — is effective on Monday, Aug. 29. The FAA has released information to help drone users understand the new requirements.

Below is information on Part 107’s effect on Section 333 waivers, along with how to obtain a Part 107 waiver.

Section 333 vs. Part 107: What works for you?

The biggest question is whether you are better off flying under the provisions of Part 107, or should continue using your existing exemption? The video below explains what happens to your Section 333 exemption grant or petition for exemption.

Your exemption is valid until it expires — usually two years after it was issued. Even after Part 107 becomes effective, you may choose to fly following the conditions and limitations in your exemption.

However, if you want to operate under the new Part 107 regulations, you’ll have to obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow all of the rule’s operating provisions. You must apply for a waiver if some parts of your operation don’t meet the rule’s requirements.

If you already have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) under your Section 333 exemption, you can continue to fly under the COA limitations until it expires. If you don’t already have a COA, you probably won’t need one when the new drone rules go into effect.

However, if you want to fly in controlled airspace, you will need permission from FAA air traffic control. Details about obtaining that permission will be online at when the small drone rule is effective on Aug. 29.

If you applied for a Section 333 exemption but haven’t received it yet, you should have received a letter from the FAA with specific information about the status of your petition. Generally, if your petition is pending and falls within the provisions of the rule, you should follow the steps outlined in the rule.

Whether you choose to fly under your exemption or under the new small drone rule is your choice, depending on how you want to operate your aircraft. You’ll have to compare the conditions and limitations in your exemption to the operating requirements in the rule to determine which one best addresses your needs.

Applying for a waiver under the new drone rules

Part 107 allows for some expanded operations based on technology mitigations if you can make the safety case for a waiver of some provisions. Operators can apply for waivers to operate at night, beyond line of sight, above 400 feet and other specific types of operation.

Here’s what you need to know about the waiver process:

  • Under Part 107, you may request a waiver of certain provisions starting Aug. 29 if your operations don’t quite fit under the rule’s provisions. On Aug. 29, the FAA will have an online portal you can use to request waivers of applicable Part 107 regulations at
  • The FAA won’t grant waivers automatically, and processing your waiver request may take time. The exact length of time will depend on the volume of requests the agency receives and the complexity of the waiver application. You should submit your waiver requests to the FAA as early as possible, at least 90 days before you plan to fly.
  • If you have a Section 333 exemption grant, and we previously said you could operate under Part 107 with a waiver, you will receive a letter notifying you that we have granted you a 0waiver or that we need additional information for you to make your safety case. (See above section.)

Information on the regulations potentially eligible for a waiver is here. Below is a short video on the waiver process.

This is posted in GIS News, UAS/UAV

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.