On May 17, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a notice implementing the statutory exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft or drones necessitated by the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, which repealed Section 336 of the prior Reauthorization that had sheltered recreational drones from regulation. Federal Aviation Administration Notice, May 17, 2019.
Under the new requirements, recreational or hobbyist drone users can still avert special certification but must adhere to safety rules, including staying under 400 feet in altitude or otherwise their usage must comply with 14 C.F.R. part 107. However, recreational users who desire to fly in controlled airspace must first obtain FAA authorization.
Also, if recreational drone users comply with the following eight conditions, they can continue to operate without obtaining a remote pilot certificate:
- Fly only for recreational purposes
- Keep unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight or within the visual line of sight of a visual observer who is co-located and in direct communication with user
- No flying above 400 feet in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace
- No flying in controlled airspace without FAA authorization
- Follow FAA airspace restrictions, including special security instructions and temporary flight restrictions
- Never fly near other aircraft
- Always give way to all other aircraft
- Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people
- Never fly near emergency response activities
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The FAA continues to update its guidance for recreational drone users which can be found here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/