Understanding the regulations for piloting drones is essential to know that do you need a license to fly a drone or not.
After you finish reading this post, you will know when and where a drone pilot’s license is necessary and what are the restrictions you have even with a drone pilot’s license.
You will need a drone pilot’s license to fly drones commercially. Receiving compensation for operating drones is prohibited. However, operating drones solely for recreation doesn’t require a drone pilot license.
I will explain this further in this article. If you are a drone enthusiast or intend to purchase your first drone, then this article is right for you.
What are the regulations for flying drones in the United States?
The Federal Aviation Administration sets the regulations for flying drones in the United States.
In each country, the Civil aviation body has a different set of rules, but principally the rules are standard.
According to FAA: Who doesn’t need a drone pilot’s license?
- If someone is flying a drone indoors doesn’t require a drone pilot’s license;
- Flying drones outdoors solely for recreational purpose does not require a permit;
- If you operate a drone outdoor that is less than 55 pounds, then you don’t need a drone pilot’s license.
Who needs a drone pilot’s license?
- Individuals intend to operate drones for commercial usage need to get a drone pilot’s license;
- Receiving compensation, although you don’t operate drones for commercial use regularly, you need a drone pilot’s license. Earning money from any job using drones, the FAA requires the pilot to be certified;
- If you fly drones outdoors and your drone weighs more 55pounds; To fly heavier drones, you must have a remote pilot airman certificate.
These sets of rules are only a few of many to determine whether do you need a license to fly a drone or not.
Ask yourself even before you buy a drone: Why are you buying the drone?
Although typically drone enthusiasts buy drones for a hobby, it is common to see drone pilots eventually turning their hobby into income.
Beginner drone pilots buy drones because it is exciting in the beginning to take amazing footages of different locations. But this excitement soon fades away for many drone pilots because there is not much more to do except for flying the drone.
Therefore many drone pilots fly drones to make money.
A popular way of using drones to make money is making youtube videos for various tourist destinations.
However, do you know: Federal Aviation Administration regulation requires pilots to have a drone pilot’s license for publishing videos online?
FAA implemented this law because drone pilots utilize the drone footages on youtube or other platforms to earn money.
Like I mentioned:
Using drones to make money requires a drone pilot to be certified. Not doing so means you are breaking the law.
Regardless, I always suggest every drone pilot to get their remote pilot airman certificate.
For your information: The remote pilot airman certificate is the official name for a drone pilot’s license.
Why do I suggest getting a remote pilot airman certificate regardless of your purpose of flying drones?
- Without the decent awareness, you will risk other aerial vehicles in the area;
- Not having precise drone operational skills, you may cause danger to people in the ground;
- Lastly, the test is relatively easy, yet the exam will prepare you to be a safer drone pilot.
What are the basic rules of flying drones regardless of your location?
There are some standard practices for flying drones.
Regardless of which country you fly your drones, any drone pilot must follow these rules:
- Every country has maximum altitude for operating drones. Such as in the United States, Malaysia, and the Philippines, one must not operate a drone over 400 feet. The height may vary from country to country.
- Operating drones at night or poor weather condition requires a waiver from the local authorization body;
- Flying drones over very crowded places like concerts and market place is prohibited;
- Drones must always be in line of sight of the drone pilot;
- Flying drone near a federal building or public offices is forbidden;
- One must not operate a drone with 5 miles radius of any airport.
These are the most common acts one must follow regardless of where they operate their drone. There may be slight changes in the rules depending on the location you fly, but then these are the basic rules.
These rules are to ensure safer airspace for airplanes as well as other unmanned aerial vehicles.
Nevertheless, where you fly a drone, it is crucial to know the necessary regulation of flying drones in that location.
You will be more knowledgeable of standard safety regulations for drone operations by getting a remote pilot airman certification, aka drone pilot’s license.
Most importantly: A drone pilot certification will train you to be a safer pilot.
Wherever you intend to operate a drone, it is best to check with the local authority for the regulations first.
Supposedly you want to fly a drone in a park; then, you must ask the park management first. If you can’t reach the management simply ask a security guard there, he can surely answer you.
Flying a drone is prohibited in numerous places, and the authority can fine you for operating a drone without permission.
The park management may have its jurisdictions that prohibit people from drone operations in the area.
What about flying drones commercially outside the USA?
Let’s consider you have a drone, and you use it to make money.
Several industries have adopted drone applications to ease various tasks and often hire freelance drone pilots to do the job.
In that case, you will need a drone pilot’s license, regardless of your country of operation.
- In any country to operate a drone for commercial usage, one must-have a drone pilot’s license.
- If the civil aviation body of another country doesn’t recognize a foreign drone pilot’s certification, then you must request for an authorization. An authorization to fly drones commercially will prevent you from getting a lawsuit in another country for flying drones.
The FAA doesn’t recognize any remote pilot airman certification from another country. One must take the aeronautical knowledge exam in the USA and get their accreditation from the FAA to operate drones commercially.
Do you need to register a drone?
Not all drones need to be registered. There is a regulation for that too.
Commonly hobbyist drone pilots do not recognize the importance of registering drones. But I will explain why registering a drone is essential, too, similar to getting a drone pilot’s license.
- According to FAA regulation, one must register a drone if it weighs over 0.55lbs.
Drones these days that hobbyists use is more substantial than 0.55 lbs.
So we can say any drone you buy today with intention for commercial use will be heavier than 0.55 lbs and require registration.
FAA understands what would be the average weight of a drones used for commercial purposes.
That’s what the FAA requires, but I think a drone pilot, must register the drone for other reasons.
- Registering a drone is very cheap. The 5 USD you spend for three years validity period is negligible;
- Drone registration proves your device is airworthy and safe for aerial operation;
- Registering a drone enables you to apply for insurance for your drone.
Whether a hobbyist or commercial drone pilot, during an event where your drone causes harm to other people’s property, and cost damage over 500USD, then you must report to the FAA about the incident.
Fortunately, a drone that is registered and has insurance can claim for the protection.
How hard is it to get a drone pilot’s license?
As I suggested getting a drone pilot license is crucial to become a safer drone pilot.
To ensure the safety of airspace, a drone pilot must be aware of the regulations as well as have better skills.
A 16-year-old can apply for a drone pilot license. Typically 16-year-olds don’t have explicit aeronautical knowledge.
Not just 16 years old, any individual not related to the aviation industry in any way has minimum knowledge of safer skies and multiple other aviation subjects.
Thus anyone applying for a drone pilot license requires passing an aeronautical knowledge test.
Passing the drone license test is easy for one who studied aviation, but someone unaware of aviation matters except for flying a drone will struggle to pass the exam with a 70% score.
It will be hard for you if you do not take a drone ground school.
There are numerous online UAV training courses available to prepare you for the test.
Free resources are available online too, but online drone courses are structured for students to learn only the essential matters for flying safely and pass the exam.
Pick an online UAV training course and study at your own pace.
Most online drone courses promise that their students can pass the exam with a 90% score and at their first take.
It means the drone pilot test is not so difficult if you take a drone ground school course.
Select an online UAV training course and pass the test with ease to apply for a drone pilot’s license.
Now that you know, do you need a license to fly a drone or not, you also must learn about the obligations of flying your drone.
Having a remote pilot airman certificate, commonly known as a drone pilot license, has some restrictions too.
You must not operate drones over any populated places and never operate drones at night without a waiver.
Similarly, having a drone pilot license from the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t entitle you to fly in another country commercially.
For commercial drone operations outside the USA, you must request permission from the authorizing body there to prevent getting fined or a lawsuit.