In early March, 2016, the FAA started issuing a new version of the Section 333 Exemption which provides for authorization to fly any approved aircraft/ drone/ UAV and provides more flexibility in flying near people who are part of the purpose of your flight operations. If you have an old version of the Section 333 exemption, you will need to request and amendment of your Section 333 to the new version, and purchase an operations manual that is compliant with the new 500 foot rules.
Watch the Video below to learn more about he new version of the FAA’s Section 333 Exemption and how to amend your exemption to obtain the new version.
Here is the 500 foot rule under the new 333:
28. All flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures unless when operating:
a. Over or near people directly participating in the operation of the UAS. People directly participating in the operation of the UAS include the PIC, VO, and other consenting personnel that are directly participating in the safe operation of the UA.
b. Near but not over people directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS operation. People directly participating in the intended purpose of the UAS must be briefed on the potential risks and acknowledge and consent to those risks. Operators must notify the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) with a plan of activities at least 72 hours prior to flight operations.
c. Near nonparticipating persons. Except as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, a UA may only be operated closer than 500 feet to a person when barriers or structures are present that sufficiently protect that person from the UA and/or debris or hazardous materials such as fuel or chemicals in the event of an accident. Under these conditions, the operator must ensure that the person remains under such protection for the duration of the operation. If a situation arises where the person leaves such protection and is within 500 feet of the UA, flight operations must cease immediately in a manner that does not cause undue hazard to persons.
d. Near vessels, vehicles and structures. Prior to conducting operations the operator must obtain permission from a person with the legal authority over any vessels, vehicles, or structures that will be within 500 feet of the UA during operations. The PIC must make a safety assessment of the risk of operating closer to those objects and determined that it does not present an undue hazard.
29. All operations shall be conducted over private or controlled-access property with permission from a person with the legal authority to grant access. Permission will be obtained for each flight to be conducted.
30. Any incident, accident, or flight operation that transgresses the lateral or vertical boundaries of the operational area as defined by the applicable COA must be reported to the FAA’s UAS Integration Office within 24 hours. Accidents and incidents must be reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in accordance with 49 CFR § 830.5 per instructions contained on the NTSB Web site: www.ntsb.gov.
For operations conducted closer than 500 feet to people directly participating in the intended purpose of the operation, not protected by barriers, the following additional conditions and limitations apply:
31. The operator must have an operations manual that contains at least the following items, although it is not restricted to these items.
a. Operator name, address, and telephone number.
b. Distribution and Revision. Procedures for revising and distributing the operations manual to ensure that it is kept current. Revisions must comply with the applicable conditions and limitations in this exemption.
c. Persons Authorized. Specify criteria for designating individuals as directly participating in the safe operation of the UAS. The operations manual must include procedures to ensure that all operations are conducted at distances from persons in accordance with the conditions and limitations of the exemption.
d. Plan of Activities. The operations manual must include procedures for the submission of a written plan of activities.
e. Permission to Operate. The operations manual shall specify requirements and procedures that the operator will use to obtain permission to operate over property or near vessels, vehicles, and structures in accordance with this exemption.
f. Security. The manual must specify the method of security that will be used to ensure the safety of nonparticipating persons. This should also include procedures that will be used to stop activities when unauthorized persons, vehicles, or aircraft enter the operations area, or for any other reason, in the interest of safety.
g. Briefing of persons directly participating in the intended operation. Procedures must be included to brief personnel and participating persons on the risks involved, emergency procedures, and safeguards to be followed during the operation.
h. Personnel directly participating in the safe operation of the UAS Minimum Requirements. In accordance with this exemption, the operator must specify the minimum requirements for all flight personnel in the operating manual. The PIC at a minimum will be required to meet the certification standards specified in this exemption.
i. Communications. The operations manual must contain procedures to provide communications capability with participants during the operation. The operator can use oral, visual, or radio communications as along as the participants are apprised of the current status of the operation.
j. Accident Notification. The operations manual must contain procedures for notification and reporting of accidents in accordance with this exemption.
In accordance with this exemption, the operating manual and all other operating documents must be accessible to the PIC during UAS operations.
32. At least 72 hours prior to operations, the operator must submit a written Plan of Activities to the local Flight Standards District Office having jurisdiction over the proposed operating area.
The Plan of Activities must include at least the following:
a. Dates and times for all flights. For seasonal or long-term operations, this can include the beginning and end dates of the timeframe, the approximate frequency (e.g. daily, every weekend, etc.), and what times of the day operations will occur. A new plan of activities must be submitted prior to each season or period of operations.
b. Name and phone number of the on-site person responsible for the operation.