FAA Doubles Altitude for Drone Flights

Posted on April 5, 2016 Anthony Cordle FAA Doubles Altitude for Drone Flights

With unmanned aircraft (UAS) becoming more popular in this day in age, there has been more regulations to protect the safety of the public.

As of March 29th 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration has increased the “blanket” altitude for drones, also known as unmanned aircraft (UAS) to four hundred feet. This is according to the Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators. In the past, the Federal Aviation Administration used the nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for the unmanned aircraft to be at altitudes up to two hundred feet.

This new Certificate of Waiver or Authorization policy allows for the drones to fly at the given altitude of four hundred feet at any given location in the country aside from those areas that are off limits that are restricted airspace. These restricted airspace includes places such as big cities, where the agency does not allow for unmanned aircraft operations.

Michael Huerta, the FAA Administrator talks about this milestone to increase speed of government.

Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.

To facilitate this even more, the FAA hopes that this will decrease the amount of work for the COA application to industry leaders in the unmanned aircraft business. Ideally such a move will decrease the amount of work by over 35 percent.

To know more specifics on this blanket COA, the unmanned aircrafts need to be below four hundred feet, weight less than fifty-five pounds, and stay compliant with the Section 333 exemption. The operators will have to follow the daytime Visual Flight Rules in order to keep the unmanned aircrafts from becoming a safety hazard to aircraft centers such as heliports and airports. Here are the rules for that:

  • Five nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
  • Three NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
  • Two NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
  • Two NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.

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