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Senior Advisor

FAA Streamlines UAS Authorization

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a procedure for obtaining permision for commercial operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) under 55 pounds.


"Under the new policy, the FAA will grant a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:
5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
2 NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure

The “blanket” 200-foot COA allows flights anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations. Previously, an operator had to apply for and receive a COA for a particular block of airspace, a process that can take 60 days. The agency expects the new policy will allow companies and individuals who want to use UAS within these limitations to start flying much more quickly than before."


Here is the process for applying for permission to use your unmanned aircraft (UA) commercially.  This is required if you are a farmer who intends to use the UAS to gather information you will use to make decisions about your farming operation.


Here is an example of an approved petition for a precision agriculture application.  Yes, it is pretty legalistic.



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