Fly Your Own Drone (Without Getting in Trouble)Posted: March 26, 2014
I’m interested in building a backyard drone, but I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. What FAA regulations and privacy laws should I be aware of before I jump in?
Davey Alba writes: If you intend to build and fly a drone recreationally, you face only a few restrictions, which come to you courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration. Just make sure your unmanned aerial vehicle flies within your line of sight, less than 400 feet above the ground, during the day, and more than 3 miles from any airport. (You’ll be in even better shape, according to the FAA’s recommendations, if you choose an operating site far from noise-sensitive and densely populated areas such as parks, schools, and hospitals.) These rules, detailed in FAA Advisory Circular 91-57 and published in 1981, were written for model aircraft, but for now the FAA is applying the same rules to UAVs.
It gets more complicated when individuals or companies want to fly UAVs for commercial purposes. One example would be Amazon’s proposed drone delivery service, but more here-and-now ideas include shooting advertising videos or conducting real estate surveys. There’s currently no legal way to operate drones for profit. Under FAA rules, the only way for a company to fly drones is to apply for an experimental airworthiness certificate, which the agency hands out to groups with research-and-development goals….
Changes are on the way, however. Congress has directed the FAA to devise rules by late 2015 in order to integrate UAVs into the nation’s airspace, with an earlier deadline of August 2014 to formulate regulations for small, recreational UAVs weighing less than 55 pounds…Read more…