Flying a drone can be fun and exciting regardless of whether you are in it for the thrill of controlling one or for the photography part of it all. However, what you should know is that, due to the security and safety risks involved with drones, all drones over 250g must be registered with the FAA. Also, there are strict rules and regulations as to where you are allowed to fly your drone. But, drones under 250g don’t need to be registered, so does that mean you can also fly a drone under 250 grams anywhere you want?
No, you still cannot fly a drone under 250g anywhere you want. The only drone rule where a sub-250g drone is exempted is registration. However, you will still need to comply with all of the other rules and regulations regarding drone flying.
There is a common misconception among beginners and experts alike that they are exempted from the rules regarding drone flying if they are flying a drone that is lighter than 250g. However, the rules regarding drone flying apply to any kind of drone regardless of whether or not it weighs less than 250g. This means that you must follow the rules and regulations regarding drone flying if you don’t want to end up in trouble with the law, no matter what kind of drone you’re flying.
The FAA registration rules for drones under 250g
Drone flying is indeed making waves as one of the best tech-related hobbies that we have in today’s modernized world. And people love it because, even though it is tech-related, it gets them outside where they can appreciate nature while flying and taking pictures with their drones. People love using drones whether they are simply quenching their thirst for flying anything related to RC or just want to take aerial photos and videos.
That said, the fact that drones can physically fly almost anywhere and are capable of taking photos from the air remotely has made it something of a security and safety risk for the common person. After all, drones can easily disrupt commercial or military-related flights and can also end up taking photos of people’s private lives. This has led the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA to strictly implement rules and regulations regarding drones to mitigate these types of risks.
It’s worth reminding you (or informing you if you aren’t aware), there are some rules and regulations regarding drones in general as long as the drone weighs under 55 pounds. Here are some of the more important rules that any drone owner should know when flying a drone:
- Always fly the drone below 400 feet
- Make sure that when you are flying your drone, it is always within your sight.
- Do not fly the drone in restricted airspace.
- Do not fly the drone near other aircraft and near airports.
- Do not fly the drone over groups of people
- It is not allowed for you to fly the drone over stadiums or sports events.
- Flying near emergency response efforts such as fires or earthquakes is strictly prohibited.
- Like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is also prohibited for you to fly under the influence of those substances.
- You need a Part 107 certification if you want to fly your drone commercially.
One of the rules for drone owners is the requirement to register their drone with the FAA. All registered drones must visibly display a registration number on the outside of the aircraft, and the reason behind this is so that the FAA can easily pinpoint any drone that carries that identification number in case something bad happens and the drone is related to the incident.
However, one of the things that drone flyers or owners should know is that, when the drone is at less than 8.8 ounces or 250 grams in weight, there is a need for them to register it with the FAA, or to display an identification number.
As long as you comply with any of those rules and regulations set by the FAA, you can safely fly your drone. However, take note that some states, counties, or cities may have their own different rules and regulations on top of the ones that the FAA has set regarding drone flying. That’s why it is also essential that you get to know the rules and regulations of your specific locality if you want to be able to safely fly your drone without getting into trouble with the law.
Does it mean I can fly drones less than 250g anywhere?
While there are no questions regarding the different rules and regulations for drones as people with drones need to follow them, some people believe that having a drone that is under 250g can allow you to bypass those rules and regulations set by the FAA. After all, the FAA only requires drones weighing over 250g to be registered with them. This has made some drone owners believe that they can do whatever they want with smaller drones.
Before we talk more about what you can and cannot do with drones that are under 250 grams, what you should know is that the FAA only required drones that are 250g or heavier to be registered because of the very fact that lighter drones are less likely to injure or cause harm to people in case they ever do fall from the sky. In that sense, all of the other dangers and risks regarding drones regardless of how heavy or light they may be still apply to drones that are below 250g.
So, if you have a drone that is below 250g in weight (such as the 250-gram DJI Mavic Mini), you might be thinking that it is alright for you to circumvent the rules and regulations set by the FAA regarding drone flying. After all, the FAA says that only drones that weigh 250g or heavier must be registered. But does the fact that you are not required to register a lighter drone mean that you can fly it anywhere?
No, the fact that sub-250g drones are not required to be registered for an identification number with the FAA is not a basis for not complying with the rules and regulations regarding drone flight and where you can fly your drone. That’s because there is nothing in the law that states that only 250-gram registered drones are the only ones that should be complying with all of the other guidelines regarding drone flying.
Again, the rule regarding drone registration is only there to make sure that your drone is identified and is not related to whether or not you are allowed to circumvent the other flight guidelines. Meanwhile, as we said, the rationale for the exemption regarding drones that are lighter than 250g is that lighter drones are less likely to harm people or property if they should happen to fall out of the sky. Aside from that, all of the other dangers surrounding drones regardless of how light they may be are still totally possible for drones that are lighter than 250g.
Take for example the fact that flying a small drone near an airport is still very much dangerous because of how the drone can easily disrupt the flight of commercial or military aircraft if it should get caught up in the engine of the plane or the rotors of a helicopter. Also, the same danger is present when you fly your drone above 400 feet because there is still a chance that it would end up disrupting commercial or military aircraft.
Of course, the dangers to other people’s safety and privacy are still very much real as much for small drones as they are for larger drones. The weight of the drone is not the only indication of how dangerous it can be for society, and that is why these drones must still comply with the rules and regulations set by the FAA regarding drone flight. The only rule that they are not required to follow is drone registration with the FAA.
So, all that said, when you own a drone that is lighter than 250g, you are not instantly allowed to fly it wherever you want to because you are still required to follow the guidelines regarding drone flight and where you can fly it. Also, this includes the rules and regulations regarding drone flight in your state, county, or city as well. As such, having a lighter drone does not excuse you from the obligation to comply with the law. For the safety and security of everyone, please do follow the FAA’s guidelines regarding drone flight, no matter the size of your drone.
As a side note, it’s going to be a totally different story if you are flying a drone that weighs over 55 pounds because there are different rules and regulations surrounding such drones. Meanwhile, there are also separate rules regarding commercial drone flight. So, the guidelines we previously mentioned are there for recreational drones that are lighter than 55 pounds. This includes 250g+ drones (which need to be registered) and sub-250g drones (which no longer need to be registered).