FAA rules and regulations on drone safety

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), including “drones,” “quadcopters,” “model airplanes”, etc., can be a great source of fun if operated properly.  However, the UAS can also be very dangerous to passengers and the aircraft in which they fly if the UAS enters restricted airspace or if operated improperly. Help keep the skies safe for everyone by reading and understanding the information the FAA has posted regarding UAS. Click here for the advisory Circular that provides guidance for conducting UAS operations in the United States in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR).

For more information, please visit the FAA UAS website.

Stay safe and as always, if you have further questions, please call us at (805) 922-1726

Frequently Asked Questions

We want you to have fun flying your UAS, so here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions that can help you fly your UAS safely.

What is a UAS?

An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).

Is a UAS the same as a model aircraft?

Congress defined a “model aircraft” as a UAS that meets all of the following:

  • Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
  • Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
  • Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes\

When did the small UAS rules become effective?

The Small UAS Rule came into effect on August 29, 2016.

Do I need permission from the FAA to fly a UAS for recreation or as a hobby?

Possibly.  There are two ways for recreational or hobby UAS fliers to operate in the National Airspace System in accordance with the law and/or FAA regulations. Each of the two options has specific requirements that the UAS operator must follow. The decision as to which option to follow is up to the individual operator.

Option #1. Fly in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95 Section 336).

Under this rule, operators must:

  • Fly for hobby or recreational purposes only
  • Follow a community-based set of safety guidelines
  • Fly the UAS within visual line-of-sight
  • Fly at or below 400 feet in altitude
  • Give way to manned aircraft
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • When flying within 5 miles of an airport, provide prior notification to the air traffic control tower
  • Fly UAS that weigh no more than 55 lbs.; and
  • Register the UAS using the FAA UAS Online Registration Service

For more information, visit the FAA’s Recreational Fliers webpage for safety rules and guidelines that apply to recreational or hobby UAS operations under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

Option #2. Fly in accordance with the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107).

Under this rule, operators must:

  • Obtain a remote pilot certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone who holds such a certificate
  • Register the aircraft as a non-modeler using the FAA UAS Online Registration Service
  • Follow all the operating rules in accordance with the regulation

For more information, visit the FAA’s Recreational Fliers webpage for rules that apply to UAS operations under Part 107.

How do I know where it is and where it is not ok to fly?

The FAA has developed a mobile app called B4UFLY to help recreational UAS operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly.  More information can be found here.

Do I have to notify all airports within five miles of where I want to fly recreationally?

Yes, you must contact any airports (including heliports and sea-based airports) and air traffic control towers within five miles of your proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 336).

Can an airport operator object to model aircraft flights near an airport?

Yes, an airport operator can object to the proposed use of a model aircraft within five miles of an airport if the proposed activity would endanger the safety of the airspace.  

Do I always have to have my certificate of aircraft registration with me while flying my UAS?

Yes. You must have the FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating an unmanned aircraft. The certificate can be available either on paper or electronically.

If another person operates your UAS, they must have the UAS registration certificate in their possession. You can give them a paper copy or email a copy to them.

Federal law requires UAS operators to show the certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked. You can show it electronically or show the printed certificate.

If I’m just flying my UAS inside a building, or in my own yard, do I have to register it?

If you’re flying indoors, you do not need to register your unmanned aircraft as the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use. However, when flying in your own yard or over your own property, you will need to register your UAS.

If my UAS weighs more than 55 lbs., what are the registration requirements?

It must be registered using the FAA’s paper-based registration process.

If my UAS is destroyed or is sold, lost, or transferred, do I need to do anything?

You should cancel your registration through the FAA’s Online Registration System.

How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with my unique registration number?

When you complete the registration using the web-based process and satisfy the registration requirements, you may use a permanent marker, label, or engraving, as long as the number remains affixed to the aircraft during routine handling and all operating conditions and is readily accessible and legible upon close visual inspection. The number may also be enclosed in a compartment that is readily accessible, such as a battery compartment.

Who do I contact with registration questions or problems?

You may email registration questions to UASregistration@faa.gov.  Live phone support is also available at (877) 396-4636 or international (703) 574-6777 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

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