On Tuesday, the FAA unveiled its long awaited operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or "drones"). To take effect by the end of August, the new regulations, known as Part 107, sets height and speed restrictions, operational limits, and safety and privacy guidelines. The most significant factor is removal of the requirement for a pilots license now required to obtain an FAA 333 Exemption.
The person actually flying the drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.
Part 107, which effectively replaces FAA 333 going forward after August, also does away with the requirement for aircraft approval. Under Part 107, the aircraft needs to be registered and the operator needs to conduct a pre-flight safety check. It's not clear yet when the FAA's knowledge test centers will be ready to begin testing and what kind of study materials will be required. The FAA estimated that it will take 20 hours of study to be able to pass the test. Watch ConstructionPro Network for more analysis of the 624-page Part 107 rule document, which can be accessed by the link below.
The FAA press release
Summary of Part 107 Rule (PDF)
Part 107 Rule (PDF)