Interesting news for those of us with Section 333 Exemptions. The FAA recently issued a blanket COA (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) for drone operators under some specific conditions:
Under the new policy, the FAA will grant a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:
- 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
- 3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
- 2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
- 2 NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure
The “blanket” 200-foot COA allows flights anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations. Previously, an operator had to apply for and receive a COA for a particular block of airspace, a process that can take 60 days. The agency expects the new policy will allow companies and individuals who want to use UAS within these limitations to start flying much more quickly than before.
If you are currently running a commercial drone operation with a Section 333 Exemption, then this COA update will simplify things greatly. If you need a Section 333 Exemption, then check out our cost-effective Section 333 Exemptions.