FAA Section 333 Update: Delays, Part 107 and Micro-Drone Proposal.

In Drone Law Blog, Our attorneys handle all FAA Part 107 Issues, Section 333 Petitions by Enrico Schaefer1 Comment

Section 333 petitioners always wonder how it could take so long for the FAA to approve Section 333 exemptions.

How long does it take to obtain a FAA Section 333 Exemption?

The FAA does not make any commitments on processing time. They have taken as little as two months and over 6 months during various phases of 333 review. Here is what the FAA posted last week for people looking to fly a drone for business through the Section 333 process:

“Due to the high volume of Section 333 petitions received, we are experiencing delays in processing petitions. We will do our best to process petitions being posted to the docket as soon as possible, and in the order they were received. We appreciate your patience as we work diligently to process your request.”

Will I get my Section 333 exemption before the FAA implements part 107?

No one knows for sure when the FAA will come out with its implementation plan for part 107, what impact Part 107 will have on commercial operators already flying under Section 333 or whether 333 owners will be ‘grandfathered’ into Part 107 implementation. The FAA has said publicly that it will be done with its implementation plan by late June, 2016. Whether this means they will issue their implementation plan, and then take months or linger to execute those plans remains to be seen. Since the FAA has been unable to meet any of its imposed, and self-imposed deadlines in drone and UAV integration, many people in the industry think we will be lucky to see full implementation anytime in 2016. Until then, the only effective pathway to fly a drone for business legally, is the Section 333 process.

What if Congress or the FAA pass a Micro-Drone rule?

Everyone has been taking about a possible micro-drone rule for a long time. DJI has been pushing the FAA and Congress to implement a rule which exempts drones under 4.4 lbs from most regulations, including the pilot license requirement, the 500 foot rule, Part 107 and Section 333, for a while. Congressional committees have looked at a possible micro-drone rule as well. Currenlty, there does not appear to be any path by which such a rule will be implemented anytime soon.


  1. Bill Biglin

    Alright, I’m about as confused as I can get. So is the law stating that the operator of the UAV must have a pilots license or that the company must have a certified pilot to oversee all the operations of the flights and the training? I do not have my pilots license, but I have someone who does.
    My wife and I have been operating a photography business for the past 5 years, using UAV’s for the past 2 years. I do not have my 333 and I am trying to play catch-up on it now. I had take the advise from the guys at Drone U and never filed for it, but now I am seeing that they were wrong.
    Thanks for any advise you can give me.

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