Pilot’s License Required to Fly a Drone?

FAA Logo + Blue SkyNew regulations are being considered in the U.S. that would require a commercial pilot's license, among other things, in order to fly a drone!




New FAA Regulations?

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the FAA may soon be proposing new regulations restricting the ability to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle, more commonly referred to as a drone, like the newest release from DJI called the Inspire 1.

Here are the key points of the new regulations:

  • Conventional pilot licenses
  • Stay under 400 feet, always within sight of your craft
  • Daylight flying only
  • Applies to any drone 55 pounds or less

Jim has said on the podcast numerous times how much he has loved using his drone to get shots that wouldn't be possible in anything else but a rented helicopter session.  While the drone industry is growing very rapidly, and new drone models offer better control, they certainly can be dangerous.  There have been stories of the drones crashing while inside a cladera at Yellowstone and other places that have led to them being banned in many places in the U.S. already.

Still, this seems like it would almost entirely kill the use of drones in photography.  Doesn't it?  The WSJ article says that the FAA is expecting to formally propose the new regulations by the end of 2014, when the public comment phase would start.  So, if this is important to you, watch for it and make your voice heard.

2 thoughts on “Pilot’s License Required to Fly a Drone?”

  1. This is starting to be an issue in city’s with police helicopters and flight for life helos. Drone operators just want to fly and are not taking into account the air and the space. To operate a drone you need to have VFR flying. (Visual flight rules). Most owners either don’t read the manual or don’t understand this. As a fire fighter we have been getting more training of rescue helicopters becoming compromised durbtobdribes in the area of operation and the drone operator not visually in range of there drone. This is causing danger for people needing rapid transport. Rescue helicopters fly 1000ft or below. So a drone at 400 ft can pose a risk as they don’t show up on radar and they don’t communicate with air control towers/radar sites.

    I think this is where the FAA is coming from more then flying in parks.

    As a Amature photographer and a avid listener if your podcast I just wanted to give some light on the other issues with the drones.

  2. It’s important to make the distinction that the Pilot’s license requirement and the other rules are aimed at those using RC aircraft for COMMERCIAL use. So I hobby photographer who is not necessarily looking to sell the aerial images they capture will likely not need pilots training and license, although they will still need to abide by other rules to maintain safety.

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