Recreational Use of Drones
As of now, drones and quadcopters may be flown for recreational purposes under the same safety guidelines as those for model aircrafts. To read an overview of those rules, check out this FAA hobby flying guide.
Recreational/hobby utilization of drones and quadcopters is the operation of an unmanned aircraft for personal use only. Taking photos with a quadcopter for your own enjoyment is recreational; but using the same quadcopter to take photos for payment would be viewed as a business operation.
The general guidelines for recreational flight are as follows –
- Do not fly higher than 400 feet.
- Try not to fly over any obstacles when possible.
- Keep your drone within eyesight at all times (FPV streams do not count as “in eyesight”)
- Remain a safe distance away from others property and unprotected people.
- Notify any airports ahead of time if flying within 5 miles of an airport.
- Do not fly in adverse weather conditions or under the influence of substances.
- Don’t fly near any sensitive areas (power plants, water treatment plants, prisons, major highways, etc.)
- Don’t invade other’s privacy with photos or videos.
Commercial/Business Use of Drones
The FAA has released a proposal for the use of drones and quadcopters (under 55 pounds) for non-recreational drone operations. The proposal would limit use to daylight hours, and the craft must remain in eyesight of the operator.
The individual flying the drone would need to be at least 17 years of age, complete an aeronautical learning test, and acquire a FAA UAS operator certificate. The operator would need to re-certify every 24 months.
Actual operator procedure is very similar to the recreational guidelines. The quadcopter must remain below 500 feet and no faster than 100 MPH.