Drones also known as UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) can be found throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area in your local Scheels, Best Buy, and even in department stores like Kohl’s. So, it’s no surprise that more and more people in the area are becoming active in the drone industry. Whether it’s a dad and son racing a micro drone or local startups using drones to make 3D topography models, drones are everywhere.

The average person that is a newbie to the world of drones and UAS may be under the impression that all you need to do after buying your drone is charge it and begin flying. However, that may not be the case depending on how they intend to use their new drone.

Getting Started – Know Before You Fly

The first question you need to ask yourself is how do you intend to use your drone? Are you planning to just use it for recreation or will it be used to generate income for your business with commercial applications? Use this flow chart to help you decide if you will be a hobbyist or commercial use pilot.

Note: This chart is only meant to guide, please refer to the FAA website for more information on the Part 107 and Model Aircraft rules.

Do I need to register my drone?

As part of the FAA regulations on small UAS, if your drone does not operate under the, “Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” you must register your UAS and label it with your registration number. In order to fall under the model aircraft rule, here are a few guidelines set by the FAA (for a full list, review P.L. 112-95, Section 336).

Image Credit: https://registermyuas.faa.gov/

  1. Your drone must only be used for hobby or recreation purposes.
  2. Your drone may not be more than 55lbs.
  3. Must follow the FAA safety guidelines.
  4. May not be follow beyond line of sight.
  5. Must not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.

In accordance with the FAA regulations, “You need to register your aircraft if it weighs between 0.55 lbs. (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25 kg) and you are not flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” For reference, the FAA has compiled a sample list of small UAS to provide guidance on if your drone needs to be registered. Explore the sample list here.

Part 107 Rule and Training

On top of the basic regulations for small UAS that fall under the model aircraft rule, the FAA also released the Part 107 rule in June 2016. This rule and set of regulations provide guidelines for non-hobbyist small UAS operations. Any small UAS used for commercial (non-recreational) purposes under 55lbs is required to operate under the regulations of the (Small UAS) Part 107 rule.

Based on these regulations, if you want to use your drone for your business, you must Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) issued by the FAA. In order to obtain this certificate, you must pass the aeronautical knowledge test which covers topics from airspace classifications, emergency procedures, and more. Similarly, to getting your driver’s license, professional training or a course isn’t required to take the test but it may significantly help your chances of passing the first time around.

Locally, you can take Part 107 training at the Fargo Jet Center which is conveniently where the Fargo testing center is located. If you prefer a high tech or distance training course, there are numerous online courses and trainings.

Think you are ready to fly a drone? Test your knowledge with this brief quiz.

Curious on what it takes to become a remote pilot? Here’s a link to the FAA’s remote pilot test prep page.

*Information above was sourced from the Federal Aviation Administration at www.faa.gov/uas.

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Lindsay Breuler