A Forum for Part 107 - Commercial sUAS Pilots


Frequenly Asked Questions
Why do we use the term "Drone"?
For the same reason that any facial tissue is a Kleenex®, any sticky-backed cellophane tape is Scotch Tape®, and any copy machine is a Xerox®.  It’s called a drone. The term is in legislation and court decisions, and its here to stay.  Ultimately, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) doesn’t have quite the same ring about it when it comes to headlines and sound bites and so the tag will surely persist and become increasingly commonplace as the aircraft owners and operators find new uses.
What is a Section 333 exemption?
In General - a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) is used to coordinate non-standard operations with Air Traffic Control facilities and issue Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) to notify manned aircraft in the area of the activity.  Traditionally a COA is issued for activities such as Airshows, Balloon Races, Aerobatic Practice Areas, Banner Tows - basically aeronautical stuff you don't see every day.

As of March 23, 2015, the FAA will automatically grant a "blanket" COA for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption, provided the aircraft weighs less than 55 pounds, operations are conducted during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions and within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports.

AFTER receiving a grant of exemption, petitioners who want to fly outside these blanket parameters will be eligible to apply for a separate COA specific to the airspace required for their operation. COA Applications MUST be submitted through the UAS Civil COA Portal. The FAA will ONLY accept and process complete COA applications.

COA applications MUST include:
An exemption number from your Exemption Letter and;
An aircraft registration number - all aircraft must be registered with the FAA to be issued a COA

The COA application process is separate from the petition for exemption process. The COA process makes applicable FAA Air Traffic Control facilities aware of proposed UAS operations, and provides the FAA the ability to consider airspace issues unique to UAS operations. Both the COA application and the petition for exemption should be submitted under the same name/company name.
What is a COA?
Before the Part 107 rules became effective on August 29, 2016, a pilot needed to obtain an Exemption Grant Letter from the FAA.  The letter enumerated the FAA rules that the pilot could ignore and the conditions that applied to the grant of exemption.  Part 107 rules introduced a new pilot certificate called the Remote Pilot Certificate and a set of rules in 14 CFR §107 that regulate the use of small UAS aircraft.  The new rules practically eliminates the need for a Part 61 pilot from petitioning for rules exemptions for drone flight.
Last Update, September 8, 2016