The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally ruled on the use of small unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, in building construction. The FAA’s ruling, which has been termed as Part 107, is a major step in the future usage of drones in the construction industry.
As the law stated before Part 107, companies had to go through a lengthy and sometimes tedious process of using drones in their construction process. The process was called the Section 333 exemption process and imposed serious restrictions on the operations of unmanned aircraft as well as their pilots.
Part 107 will impose much fewer restrictions on companies wanting to use drones as well as the drone pilots. However, it should be noted that there will be new rules made to create a new class of pilots in which would require current drone pilots to become certified.
Part 107 will deal with three major areas, the drone itself, the pilot and operational limitations for the unmanned aircraft flights.
The Unmanned Aircraft/Drone
The drone itself must first weigh less than 55 lbs. and must be registered with the FAA for the purpose of construction use.
The pilot of the drone must also conduct a safety check before each flight and record any faults in the drone. However, Part 107 does not require the drone to have a certification of airworthiness as compared to manned aircraft.
Under the new rulings of the FAA there will be a new specification of pilots. Because of this current drone pilots will need to be recertified by the FAA and will be reclassified as Remote Pilots in Command or Remote PICs. This differs from the older Section 333 which requires the pilot to also be certified to fly manned aircraft.
Potential pilots must also be at least 16 years of age and pass an aeronautical knowledge test. Now, unlike manned aircraft tests, the FAA will no longer require flight training or a practical examination in unmanned aircraft proficiency.
The FAA has place a large amount of operational limitations on the drone usage. First, drone usage is only allowed during daylight hours and twilight on days where there is at least three miles of visibility.
Next, the drone must be in plain sight of the PIC at all times. While visual observers can be used, the PIC must maintain contact with the drone while it is in the air.
The speed of the drone has been set at 100 mph and can only be used at a distance of 400 feet above the ground or 400 feet away from the structure.
Usage near buildings is now permitted, however drone usage above anyone not partaking in the drone flight is not allowed unless proper safety gear is given to those not involved.
With new technology comes new laws that can be confusing, but the Law Offices of Edward Lai Law are willing to help. For a consultation you can contact the offices at 510-397-8287.