A Crackdown on The Drone Hobbyist - 1UP Drones

A Crackdown on The Drone Hobbyist

If you somehow navigated to our page, you are likely some sort of drone enthusiast, maybe even a drone hobbyist, as in drones for fun, recreation, and giggles. If so, we’re glad you found us, as we provide news and product information that is of interest to drone hobbyists as well as commercial drone operators. 

In fact, this article is of primary interest to drone hobbyists and contains vital information you need if you plan to continue flying your drone for kicks. In an effort to keep the national air space safe for manned and unmanned operations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided new rules for drone hobbyists. 

New Tests and Requirements for Drone Hobbyists 

Drone hobbyists are no longer exempt under Section 336, and are now required to follow these new FAA rules and regulations. Unfortunately, for the time being, this means that drone hobbyists, or recreational drone pilots, are no longer able to fly in controlled airspace at all, with the exception of these designated areas.

Commercial drone operators have used a great system to communicate UAV flight operations, and soon hobbyists will have the same access. The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system will be required to obtain approval for flights in controlled airspace. However, the FAA has not released formal guidelines on how they will interpret the reauthorization. Once they have interpreted the rule, drone hobbyists should gain access to the LAANC system.

In addition to this, the FAA will also require all drone hobbyists to pass a test similar to what commercial operators have had to pass since August, 2016. This will be a mandated electronic aeronautical knowledge and safety test. And, hobby drone users will be required to show proof of successfully passing the exam to any governmental agency (police, FAA, etc.) upon request. 

What are the Specifics of the New Rules for Drone Hobbyists?

The new rules are the result of new regulations outlined in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The act included the repeal of FAA Section 336, also known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which exempted recreational droning from the FAA rules.

On June 6th the FAA said in a statement:

“While recreational flyers may continue to fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA, they are now required to obtain prior authorization from the FAA before flying in controlled airspace around airports. Furthermore, they must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions when flying in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.”

Basically, drone hobbyists were required to notify the Air Traffic Control (ATC) before flying their drone within five miles of an airport. Now, they will have to request authorization through the LAANC system. For now, this means that recreational drone pilots can only fly in uncontrolled airspace or at any of the fixed sites like model aircraft fields, since the LAANC system is not available for hobbyists. 

Jay Merkle, FAA’s Executive Director, UAS Integration, said the following: “We view this as a very positive step forward for the safe integration of UAS. Including everyone under the same rules really does move everything forward.”

What Should Drone Hobbyists Do Now? 

1UP Drones recommends that drone hobbyists follow these guidelines to keep you, your drone, and everyone else safe. 

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What do you think about these new FAA rules for hobbyist drone pilots? Let us know in the comments below.