Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drone operators, will likely see changes in 2021. Drones have become useful tools in many industries, including real estate, insurance, and photography, to name a few. In agriculture they are a nice tool to assist with field scouting, checking conservation structures, checking buildings or irrigation equipment, marketing, and much more.
If drones are used for commercial uses — flying a drone for profit or to advance any type of business — the operator should have a part 107 license that is administered through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To get this license, you take a pretty robust exam at a proctored FAA exam administration facility. I had no pilot experience prior to taking this exam and I definitely learned a lot about aviation during this process.
Currently, drones need to be registered with FAA and get a number that you put somewhere visible on the drone. In addition to this, the FAA is adding a requirement that drones must have the capability to broadcast their remote identification to authorized public safety organizations. This will be a default feature on new drones, but for those of us with older models there will be remote ID modules available to mount on existing drones. This rule will be slowly administered, so make sure to follow the FAA guidelines on deadlines for this found online at https://www.faa.gov/uas/.
Other changes will include drone flights over people and night flying. The rules were you needed waivers or authorization from FAA to conduct such activities. These rules are being loosened slightly, but make sure you are eligible and understand all the revisions before doing so. These revisions can be found at the FAA Web site at https://tinyurl.com/FAAoperationsoverpeople. The final change is how part 107 license holders maintain their credentials. In the past, we had to take a recurrent exam at a testing site every two years and pay a fee to stay certified. Now, we need to take an online safety course that will be free.
Using drones for businesses can be advantageous to get that eye in the sky and unique aerial views that we otherwise could not get easily get before this technology. There are many safety considerations that need made prior to flying, as well as understanding the FAA rules that apply to you. If you are interested in getting a part 107 license or just want to learn more about drones there are a group of extension educators, including myself, that can offer this training. If you are interested please reach out to us and we will let you know when the next training is or collect your information and reach out once one is scheduled.