This year, the FAA has declared the first National Drone Safety week
November 4-10. Drones have been around many industries for several years now, and just continue to increase in numbers and uses. With drones outnumbering manned aircraft in the United States, safety has to be everyone’s responsibility. We thought it was worth covering the basics here.

The rules are pretty clear –

  • All UAVs between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs must be registered with the FAA before flight
  • Always maintain visual line of sight with your UAV
  • Never fly over people, stadiums, or sports events
  • Never fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you have authorization
  • Fly no more than 400 feet above ground level
  • Never fly around emergency response efforts
  • Yield right of way to ALL manned aircraft
  • Don’t fly at night
  • Don’t drink and fly

Most of these rules are common sense, and easy to follow. There are some additional details to the rules that can further clarify some of the blanket statements I made above, so understand that these are blanket statements, and there are some available waivers to work within these rules as needed.

Another popular question we frequently get is, do I need to have my Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate? The FAA defines “commercial” use as furtherance of a business, so if you are using it to check your crops, I would say that furthers your farming business and you likely should not rely on the recreational exemption. It isn’t a hard process to get through, and we can certainly help.

I have heard some people claim that is doesn’t matter, since they are flying over their own property and no one will catch them. This is not an acceptable thought process, as you are breaking the law. These rules are in place to make flying UAV’s safe. Failure to comply with the law has consequences, and in the case of dealing with the FAA, the fines start out very large.

There are many resources to help you get educated about the rules, and one area HTS Ag has been involved with is the CompTIA Drone Advisory Council, which has published Drone Standards and Best Practices

Let’s keep safety top of mind when flying UAV’s not only this week, but all year long. Following these basic safety rules will allow the industry to grow and new uses to emerge, continuing to drive innovation.