The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a short press release and guidance on Part 107 waivers and airspace authorizations for commercial drones. Since the final drone operations rule was issued in August 2016, the FAA has approved 81 authorizations and 36 waivers. However, the FAA has rejected 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace authorization applications due to incorrect or incomplete information.

The FAA’s press release and guidance was released to tell companies how to properly apply for these waivers and authorizations. The full set of performance based standards are available on the FAA’s website, but the FAA provides an example in its guidance –If you want to operate your drone at night (because it is one of the most common requests) here’s what you need to spell out in your application:

  • Your method for remote pilot to maintain visual line of sight;
  • Your method for remote pilot to see and avoid other aircraft, people on the ground, ground-based structures and obstacles in the darkness;
  • Your method for remote pilot to be able to continuously know and determine the position, altitude and movement of the drone;
  • Information about how each individual involved in the drone operation has the knowledge to recognize and overcome visual illusions caused by darkness, and understand physiological conditions that could degrade at night; and
  • Your method for allowing the drone to be seen at a distance of 3 statute miles (unless a system is in place on the drone that can avoid all non-participating aircraft).

Without detailed information and descriptions of how the applicant intends to meet the standards, the FAA cannot determine if a waiver or authorization is possible. The FAA says, “Applicants can speed the process by making sure they make a solid, detailed safety case for any flights not covered under the small drone rule.” Check out the FAA’s website and all of its guidance for more details and information.