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Today the FAA released the long-anticipated Part 107 commercial drone regulations. Previously, to fly a drone legally, the FAA required commercial drone operators to file a petition under Section 333, which required the UAV operator to be a licensed pilot and often took months to process. Over 5,000 exemptions were granted and thousands more still wait for review, with our flagship drone Solo receiving the second highest number of exemptions. This signals that the demand for commercial use of drones is high and that drones offer real value to industries like construction, conservation and architecture. Solo comes in at under 2 kg (4.4 lbs), well below the 25 kg (55 lbs) limit for the new rule.

At a high level, the loosening of the restrictions required to fly commercially shows that drones are now safer and easier to use than ever before. The launch of 3DR’s Site Scan enterprise platform in March anticipated this democratization of access to aerial data capture and analytics, and now after passing a simple FAA knowledge test anyone can survey a construction site or measure a stockpile with the push of a few buttons in Site Scan.

To summarize the new regulations:

  1. No exclusivity: The FAA is democratizing commercial drone use — no need to be a licensed pilot any longer. Take the knowledge test at a testing center and you’re good to go.
  2. No overwhelming bureaucracy: Filing Section 333 exemption requests is no longer necessary, and logging all flight data for the FAA is unnecessary.
  3. No jackassery: Yield to manned aircraft; don’t fly while under the influence; don’t fly over non-participants; keep under 400’ (although this is waivable); maintain visual line of sight at all times; and fly outside restricted areas (use Site Scan’s airspace safety map to keep clear of restricted airspace).

That’s it. Take a test, follow the rules, and you can fly commercially to provide safer, more efficient, real-time access to data. We think the new certification process will be easier than getting a driver’s license — no live flight test involved. The effective date of the new regulations is approximately 60 days from today (August), but we’ll keep you updated as the dates are finalized.

In the coming days, 3DR staff, partners and customers will pilot (pun intended) the new process for getting certified, and we’ll document along the way with training materials and helpful information to get you certified. If you’d like more information on Site Scan, click here. If you want to give your corporate lawyer the good news so you can begin flying with 3DR Site Scan, point them here.