This Article addresses the following issues for Part 107 drone pilots and operators:
- How Do I get obtain a Part 107 waiver from the FAA?
- How do I obtain ATC airspace permissions in restricted airspace (Class B, C, D and E surface area)?
If you are a commercial drone operator, or part 107 Pilot, you will need ATC airspace permissions in restricted airspace (Class B, C, D and E surface area) and your basic Part 107 Waivers (under 14 CFR Part 107, Subpart D).
The FAA suggests you obtain ATC permission 90 days prior to the start of the proposed operation. Yes, this sucks and is totally impracticable. A 90 day ‘or os’ wait period ignores the realities of the UAV services market which rarely provide 3 months notice on operations on a ‘maybe the FAA won’t grant it’ basis.
However, it’s not all bad news. The FAA did provide a process which may allow you to obtain airspace authorization for Class B, C, D and E airspace in 3 mile radius sections, for a period of 4 years. So here is our recommendation on filing strategy. If you start the process now and file for multiple restricted airspace authorization in contiguous 3 mile radius blocks, you may be able to obtain many square miles of airspace authorizations up front. You would file for authorization in all the locations you are most likely to fly for a 4 year period. or strategically file for authorizations and then target your marketing to those areas if you offer regional or national services.
Prior to August 29, no one was sure what the process would be to obtain Part 107 waivers, or obtain airspace authorization from ATC for restricted airspace (Class B, C, D and E surface area). We were happy to see that the FAA created a relatively simple website for Part 107 waivers and ATC airspace permission. Here is the FAA web page titled “Request a Waiver/Airspace Authorization, Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS)” where you request waivers and permission to operate in restricted airspace.
The FAA provides limited instructions here.
- Waiver/Airspace Authorization instructions (PDF)
- Part 107 Waivers: Performance Based Standards (PDF)
Unfortunately, the FAA’s instruction are general and provide NO real strategy for filing, and very little instruction on how fill out your wavier requests or ATC authorization requests.
Our drone attorneys are recommending to our clients that they prepare and file these requests themselves. It is part of any drone pilot or operator’s core business. You may need to file many dozens of requests.
To help our clients get through the process, we have created free training videos on “How to file requests for airspace Authorization in restricted airspace and file your requests for Part 107 Waivers.” We are now making these training videos available to the UAV / drone community as well . If you haven’t started requesting waivers and authorizations, you should start now.
You will need permission for Class B, C, D and E airspace, as well as waivers for such things as daylight operations (§ 107.29) (flights at night).
You can obtain a password to these free training videos here.
We will better understand the process and benchmarks for FAA waivers and authorization as airspace and waiver requests are processed by the FAA and eventually granted. As we learn more, we will add videos to the series so that you can ‘self-help’ your way through the process. While there may be some more complex issues for which you need legal assistance, we are convinced that you should do most of these requests yourself.
Good luck! Fly Safe!