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K-State Agronomy eUpdates

Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

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Manhatan, KS 66506

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Extension Agronomy

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems: Regulations and safety

(Note: The following article in an excerpt from the new K-State Research and Extension publication SUAS What You Should Know About Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, MF3245, by Brian McCornack, field crop entomologist, and Kurt Carraway, UAS program manager, K-State Polytechnic Campus, Salina. The full publication is available online at: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3245.pdf
-- Steve Watson, Agronomy eUpdate Editor)

 

Know the rules for operating a small, unmanned aircraft (sUAS) in federal airspace before you fly. The rules can be found at http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/ Obtain a certificate of authorization (COA), which is required for both public and commercial entities. See table below for details. To learn how to apply, visit the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) web site at http://www.faa.gov/uas.

Guidelines for use of small UAS in federal airspace

Restrictions / Requirements

Hobbyist

Public entity

Commercial user

Section 333 Exemption

No

No

Yes

Certificate of Authorization

No

Yes

Yes

Visual Line of Sight

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pilots License

No

COA*

Yes, COA*

Altitude Limitation

400 feet above ground level

COA*

COA*

Distance from Airport

5 nautical miles unless authorized

COA*

COA*

* Flight restrictions are specified in the Certificate of Authorization (COA)8 y terms

 miles unless authorized federal airspacelinaanned aircraft.one or more ground control stations, a data link, a payloa

 

Key terms

Section 333 Exemption – A Section 333 exemption is required for commercial use. It allows an sUAS operator with an FAA airworthiness certificate and COA to fly in approved airspace. Other operators may be granted an exemption for commercial use. For application procedures, visit the FAA’s “Section 333” page.

Certificate of authorization (COA) – waiver that allows an operator of a small unmanned aerial system to fly within federal airspace. Altitude limitations and distance from nearest airport are specific to the authorization certificate.

Visual line of sight – The operator must keep the vehicle in eyesight at all times and use an observer to assist, if needed.

Altitude limitation – the maximum height (in feet or meters) above ground level that an operator can fly a small unmanned aerial system in federal airspace.

Hobbyist or recreational user – operation of a system for personal interest and enjoyment but without compensation. Selling images or videos taken from an unmanned aerial system, is considered commercial use.

Public entity – an institution or publicly funded organization (university, fire department, law enforcement) must apply for a certificate of authorization (COA) from the FAA for use in public aircraft operations or for research.

Commercial user – any person using a small unmanned aerial system for compensation or hire, for example, to capture and sell images or videos, or to provide industrial inspection, security, or telecommunication services.

The average time to process a COA is less than 60 days, but an application can be expedited in an emergency situation. Laws and regulations pertaining to public aircraft operations are referenced in 49 U.S.C. §§ 40102(a)(41), 40125, and FAA Advisory Circular 00-1.1A, Public Aircraft Operations (Feb. 12, 2014).

 

Source: SUAS What You Should Know About Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, MF3245: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3245.pdf