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11 Things You Need To Know About The FAA's New UAS Rules

Things are about to get easier for commercial UAS operators. The FAA just released proposed rules for non-recreational operations of Small UAS, and they're less restrictive than most of us thought they would be. Here are 11 things you should know about the new rules:

1) Under 55 pounds

UAS can be operated commercially, as long as they're under 55 pounds. That qualifies a lot of platforms, including this DJI Octocopter, which carries a DSLR camera and has a max takeoff weight of 24.3 pounds.


2) Daytime only

Operations must be between sunrise and sunset.

Chris Fleming

3) Visual-line-of-sight operations

The operator (pilot) needs to have unaided visual line-of-site with the aircraft at all times.

Don McCullough

4) Right-of-way

The UAS needs to yield right-of-way to all other aircraft. That includes manned and unmanned aircraft.


5) 100 MPH

This one surprised us a little. UAS can operate up to a max airspeed of 100 MPH. (obviously this Navy drone is still a bit too fast)

US Navy

6) 500' AGL

Altitude limits are a little higher than expected as well. You can operate your UAS up to 500' above the ground.

Andrew Turner

7) 3 miles visibility

The visibility component of basic VFR weather minimums is included, with operators needing at least 3 miles visibility to operate from their control station.


8) Operation in Class B, C, D and E airspace

You can operate in Class B-E airspace, as long as you have ATC approval. Operations in Class A are prohibited, but that's not much of a problem. There are only 2 places in the entire US where you can be 500' AGL and in Class A. (Mount McKinley and Mount Saint Elias)


9) Operation in Class G airspace

You can operate in Class G without permission from ATC.


10) Operators need to pass FAA knowledge test

There will be an FAA written test that you'll need to pass, and you'll need to get an FAA UAS operator certificate as well.

Cleared as filed

11) Recurrent training

The rules will continue to evolve, and you'll need to pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months to stay up-to-date with them.


What do you think about the new rules? Too relaxed? Too restrictive?

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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