Drone flying has become quite popular nowadays because of the many RC and photography enthusiasts who are taking advantage of the drone’s capabilities. For hobbyists, however, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to follow as a recreational drone pilot. Still, if you do have a Part 107 license, you have a bit more freedom in some things and more restrictions in others. So, what are the differences between Part 107 rules and recreational rules?
Having a Part 107 license allows you to fly your drone in places or situations where recreational or hobby drone pilots are not allowed to fly their drones. Having a Part 107 license also allows you to use your drone for business-related purposes, and can boost your credibility as a drone pilot.
While qualifying for a drone Part 107 license can be expensive and may end up becoming a lot of effort on your part, there are some perks that come with it in comparison to recreational or hobby flying. So, if you want to know more about both of the different rules and advantages that come with having a Part 107 license versus being a recreational drone pilot, let’s get into some details.
Part 107 Drone Rules – Everything you need to know
For drone pilots of all kinds there are some rules and regulations that govern drone flying. Because drones are considered aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA is the governing body that regulates the use of drones.
The reason why there are rules and regulations established by the FAA regarding the flying of drones is that drones can pose a danger or hazard to the general public when they are flown freely or without any restrictions. As such, there are certain rules that you need to comply with if you want to be able to pilot your drone without getting into trouble with the law.
By getting a Part 107 license, you have the ability to fly in places or situations that are restricted for recreational users, often through a process of applying for a waiver (after you’re a licensed drone pilot). Before deciding whether you need to get a license, it’s a good idea to learn what the restrictions actually are for drone use. You can find a quick summary of the rules here.
Of course, to become a drone pilot you also have to take a knowledge test regarding the different things that a commercial drone pilot should know. Registering your drone or unmanned aircraft is also a requirement. After becoming licensed, if you want to be able to perform certain actions that are not allowed for general use under Part 107, you need to secure a waiver.
Here is a quick summary of what is covered by the Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule:
- Must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA to fly commercially.
- Must register your UAV with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website.
- The UAV must weigh less than 55 lbs., including payload, at takeoff.
- Must fly in Class G airspace but this is subject to certain rules such as how you are no longer required to meet the distance requirement for Class G airspace.
- Must keep your UAV within visual line-of-sight, which means that you should be able to see your drone with your naked eyes.
- Must fly at or below 400 feet.
- Must use anti-collision lighting to fly during civil twilight or evening.
- The drone must fly at or under 100 mph.
- You have to yield right of way to manned aircraft.
- You are not allowed to fly from a moving vehicle, unless in an area that isn’t too populated.
Of course, there are also some advantages that come with having a Part 107 license issued by the FAA. This includes being able to fly in Class G airspace, which allows you to fly within five miles of a nearby airport without having to notify the air traffic controller. In that sense, you can fly your drone in any area as long as it falls within the Class G airspace as the distance from an airport or from anything similar is no longer an issue.
The fact that you can fly in certain uncontrolled airspaces can also boost your credibility as a drone pilot because you can actually go and flash your license whenever authorities ask whether or not you are allowed to fly your drone in such areas.
Perhaps more importantly, you can also use your drone for commercial purposes if you have a Part 107 license and if you have registered your drone or unmanned aerial vehicle with the FAA. This allows you to make money with your drones, for example if you are using it as a drone for hire or if you are flying your drone for any public safety or governmental purposes such as search and rescue. In other words, you can work commercially or professionally if you have a Part 107 license.
Here are some of the common commercial uses for the drones of individuals that have Part 107 licenses:
- Real estate videos and photos
- Construction site monitoring
- Crime scene mapping
- Deliveries (as long as the total weight still falls under 55 lbs.)
- Disaster response
- Infrastructure inspection
- Search and rescue
Recreational Rules – Everything you need to know
Meanwhile, if you are someone who is flying for recreational purposes and strictly for fun, you are governed by the FAA’s rules on recreational drone flying, which can be found here. Just like how the FAA regulates commercial drone flying, recreational drone flying is also strictly regulated because of how there are many safety and security risks involved when people are flying their drones for fun without any restrictions whatsoever.
For a quick overview of the things you need to know regarding recreational drone flying, here are some of the regulations that fall under the FAA’s model aircraft rules:
- Flying your drone or model aircraft should only be for recreational purposes or for hobby. You are not allowed to earn money or profit out of doing so. In other words, you can only fly a drone for fun and for hobbies such as when you are on vacation or if you are playing with it in your backyard or in a local park.
- Your drone or UAV must be registered with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website if it weighs over 0.55lbs.
- The drone must fly within visual line-of-sight such that you can actually see where it is going with your naked eyes.
- You must follow community-based safety guidelines or fly within the programming of local community-based organizations. In other words, you have to comply with the guidelines set forth by certain communities regarding recreational drone flying.
- The drone must be under 55 lbs. unless it comes with the certification of a community-based organization that allows it to fly even if it is more than 55 lbs.
- You are not allowed to fly near other aircraft
- You are only allowed to fly in Class G airspace but you are required to give notice to the airport’s air traffic control tower if you are flying within five miles from an airport
- Flying near emergency response efforts is prohibited.
As you can see from those rules, there are plenty of restrictions that govern the piloting of drones or UAVs for recreational purposes. Of course, you also have to comply with the rules and regulations of states or communities where you belong if they have certain restrictions regarding drone flying.
Differences Between Drone Part 107 and Recreational Rules
Now that you know more about the differences between the rules regarding those with Drone Part 107 licenses and those who are flying under recreational rules, you might be wondering what the major differences between the two are.
As to qualifications, you have to be able to take a knowledge test and then obtain the Part 107 license before you are able to fly under Part 107 rules. In recreational rules, the only qualification is that you register your drone with the FAA, which is, by the way, also required for Part 107 pilots. That means that recreational rules are less stringent when it comes to qualifications because the goal here is to make sure that recreational pilots are able to freely fly their drones as long as they comply with the rules and regulations of drone flying.
Meanwhile, as to the airspaces where they are allowed to fly, both Part 107 rules and recreational rules require you to fly only in Class G airspace. But the difference is that Part 107 license holders are allowed to fly in certain places such as near airports without prior notice or restrictions as long as those places still fall under Class G airspace.
Those who hold Part 107 licenses are no longer required to meet and adhere to the rules and regulations of certain communities regarding the piloting of drones. On the other hand, recreational drone pilots still need to comply with such rules on top of complying with the FAA rules and regulations regarding recreational drone piloting.
And, finally, Part 107 license holders can make a profit out of their drones or work in certain safety and government-based efforts that require their expertise in drone piloting. Meanwhile, recreational drone pilots are only allowed to fly their drones for recreational purposes and cannot fly them for profit or for commercial purposes.
|Rule Type||Part 107||Recreational|
|Requirements||Knowledge test, Part 107 license, Registration||Registration|
|Airspace||Class G without distance restrictions||Class G subject to distance restrictions and community regulations|
|Need to adhere to community rules||No||Yes|
|Purpose of flying||Recreational and commercial||Recreational only|
|Weight limit||55 lbs. or under including payload||55 lbs. or under (unless certified by a community-based organization)|