The FAA’s New Rules for Recreational Drones

By: Miriam McNabb

It’s time.  The FAA will now implement some of the changes in regulations for recreational drones which will follow on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act passed last year.

The FAA Reauthorization Act repealed Section 336 of the previous FAA Reauthorization, which protected recreational aircraft from new laws.  The move to repeal came in response to pressure from both national security agencies and commercial drone advocacy groups for more oversight over the hobby.

The changes in regulations now outlined by the FAA clarify where hobby drones can fly, and bring them into the some of the same regulatory processes that commercial drones currently follow.

Recreational flyers still don’t require a special certification (in future, they will need to take an online knowledge test before flying- still in development.)  They still need to follow the long-established safety rules, including staying under 400 feet in altitude.

The major changes, however, relate to flying in restricted airspace – especially the controlled space around airports.  Right now – until the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) is updated to include recreational flyers – recreational flyers can only fly at defined, fixed sites within 5 miles of airports.  (See details and links in FAA press release here.)

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