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FAA Regulations

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by nateweger, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. nateweger

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    Hello everybody,

    I will be doing research at my university using a Phantom 3 Advanced. I have three questions:

    1. Is it required to get a license from the FAA to use a drone for university research?
    2. We want to use the drone to monitor flood plains, which means every time there's a flood in the area, we would be there. Does that mean we need to register every time, or do you only have to register once and it covers everything?
    3. How long does it take to go through the application process and get a license, and do they usually say yes when people apply?

    I appreciate any help or suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Nate
     
  2. msinger

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    The FAA requires a pilot license (at least a recreational or sport license) if you're going to do commercial work with your Phantom. There are no other types of licenses needed. It does not sound like your project is commercial, so you should follow these rules. If you have any doubts though, contact the FAA directly.
     
  3. olof Ekbergh

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    At this point there is no license, just an exemption.

    This is required for commercial flying. If you are hobby flying it is not needed. I don't know it it is required for educational purposes.

    More info Here:
    Section 333
    and here:
    Section 333 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    You can call the FAA local office where you are and ask them. All this stuff is a bit unclear.

    It takes about 120 days more or less to apply and it is a very complicated procedure. Do some research and you will see there are many law firms that specialize in the process.

    Part of the 333 is you need to have a licensed airman be pilot in command when flying commercially.
     
  4. Recce2

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    Depending on what state, you may also need:
    FAA Aircraft Registration
    Proof of Insurance
    Aircraft Registration (State)
    Commercial Aircraft Registration (State)

    It took 90 days for the 333, and several weeks for the State stuff.
    Also, be aware the the Blanket COA that is issued with the 333 is very restrictive:
    200 max alt, line of site, 500ft from structures, Notam filing, monthly reports, Safety Observer etc.

    Lots of hoops to jump through, none too bad, but I would plan on a good 4-6 months before all your ducks are lined up!
     
  5. nateweger

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    Thank you all very much for your answers, very helpful. How long do the registrations and exemption last?
     
  6. ResevorDG

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    Who owns the university? Technically the FAA regulates civilians. While city and state governments do get n-numbers and hire licensed pilots for safety and insurance, they could legally do as the military does and self regulate.

    Technically a police department could hire a non certified pilot to fly an unregistered police helicopter, plane etc.

    If you are at a state university, you may be able to operate outside the preview of the FAA.

    Having said that it's still wise to comply.
    The FAA could sue, this would be a pain.
    The press hates drones and loves scandals. This has the makings for both.
     
  7. ResevorDG

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    They all expire in 2017. Hopefully real law will exist by then.
     
  8. ResevorDG

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    When applying for your COA, apply several of them at once.
    Apply for the one everyone gets. You're a shoe in.

    Also apply for one that gives you greater freedom for research. (Better altitudes, flying at night, etc) As a university you may get it. Just make your case as verbose and with as many references as you can. Demonstrate how your exceptional COA is good for society.
     
  9. nateweger

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    It's a public university, but like you said above, we will likely comply with the rules to avoid anything like that. Is the COA the same thing as the 333 exemption? What would applying for several at once help? Also, which one is the one everyone gets? And which ones would give greater freedom for research? Are these different applications, or would they just be specifications I make on just one application. As for the rest of it, I believe I will be able to do that fine, so that shouldn't be a problem. I apologize for all of the questions, this is just a confusing process to me and I'm trying to figure out exactly what's going on. I looked through the website and the exemption details and it was difficult to understand some of it. Thanks for your help.
     
  10. THG Aviation

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    One thing that may help you is to look at the exceptions that have already been granted. If you find one that is similar to what you are looking for it makes it much easier to use that exemption request as your base template for your 333 exemption request. I know there have been a number of university requests and if you scroll back several weeks you'll find a few. You can see the exemptions granted at

    Authorizations Granted Via Section 333 Exemptions

    Read the standard restrictions that come with each exemption that's granted...they are listed right after the letter of approved exemption.

    The correspondence and replies may also be helpful. Getting straight answers can be difficult because this is pretty new to the FAA and they are overwhelmed with requests and have limited internal guidance.

    The PIC (pilot in command) will need one of three types of pilot licence as well as a current flight review conducted within the last 24 months (formerly called a biennial flight review).

    I think that if you are an employee of the university and doing UAV work for the university it may be considered a commercial use but since you want to go by the rules that may be a moot issue.

    Andrew
     
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  11. SteveMann

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    So much misinformation, so little time.

    The FAA considers research by universities as commercial flight. There have been drone programs at some schools that had to curtail their flight operations. Nateweger's suggestion applies if the university is state owned and the state conducts civil aircraft operations under the statutory definition of "public aircraft," in Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) §§ 40102(a)(41) and 40125 (the statute), then you might be able to fly a small UAS without an airman's certificate. Advisory Circular 00-1.1A - 'Public Aircraft Operations' may help you to determine if this could apply to your intended use. The odds are not in your favor because the flights have to be for state business purposes.

    Anyone may apply for and receive an FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 Section 333 exemption which exempts an operator from some FAA regulations which would prevent using a small UAS for commercial purposes. However, the person controlling the aircraft must have a current FAA-issued airman's certificate.

    Flying under a Section 333 exemption also requires that a COA (Certificate of Authorization) be obtained for every flight. This can be as simple as an email letter of agreement or as formal as a permanent COA for a flying club. The COA is obtained from the local SDO (Flight Standards District Office) and must be requested no less than 24-hours and no more than 48-hours in advance of the flight and they generally, except for the permanent COA's, expire in 24-hours. Yes, this is dumb and nothing like it is required for manned aircraft. However, you may be able to obtain a permanent COA for your stated purpose. Fortunately, there is also a blanket COA that all Section 333 holders have that is likely to cover your planned flights.

    I would recommend that the school apply for a Section 333 as soon as possible. If you don't already have a specific drone then say in your petition that you are flying a "DJI Phantom". When you do receive your exemption, it's a relatively simple to petition for an amendment to add additional aircraft. Many petitioners have included a dozen or more sUAS models in their petition. Measure, LLC has the record with 324 sUAS aircraft models in their petition.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. SteveMann

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    The Section 333 exemptions expire 12 calendar months after they are granted. The first ones have already expired. If the Part 107 rules are finalized and effective next year (good luck with that), then Section 333 exemptions and COA's will mostly be obsolete.
     
  13. ResevorDG

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    Not mine. Mine Lats until mid 2017 or about 26 months.
     
  14. ResevorDG

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    By applying for several COAs at one time under several names you can file for one that's very conservative and likely to be granted, another that's a little bit more liberal and may or may not be granted and a third that is very liberal but is a probably a long shot. This will save you time.
     
  15. ResevorDG

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    You can also amend your COA fairly easily to add new aircraft if needed.
     
  16. ResevorDG

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    Agreed. A real FAR would be nice.
     
  17. SteveMann

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    24 Calendar months. Your exemption was granted on May 4, 2015.

    I hadn't looked at the expiration dates after the first few. Now I am curious when they went from 12 months to 24.

    Edit - I just looked back into the exemptions and it looks like only the 2014 exemptions were 12 calendar months. All 2015 exemptions are for 24 calendar months. Thanks for the data point.
     
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  18. ResevorDG

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    That sounds about right.
     
  19. pzabarko

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  20. ResevorDG

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    This mentioned the 5 mile restriction. That's 5 miles for towered airports. It's less for non towered airports (3 I think), but there is a caveat. You can still fly. You just have notify the FSDO about 48 hours prior to the flight so they can issue a NOTAM, and you must have a two way com with local air traffic.

    This is of course for part 333, for a hobby it's still open season, for now.

    Yes. This is ridiculous, but you can actually fly near or even at an airport if you just go through the major hoops.