Published on July 1, 2017.

The FAA Rules

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are two ways for a first responder to legally fly a drone on the job: you must be at least 16 years old and pass the Airman Knowledge Test, a two-hour, 60-question test on initial aeronautical knowledge, at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center; or you must be at least 16 years old and if you already have a Part 61 pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, you must take an online training course on small UAS use provided by the FAA and have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months.

    The small UAS operator manipulating the controls of a drone should always avoid manned aircraft and never operate in a careless or reckless manner.
    You must keep your drone within sight. Alternatively, if you use First Person View or similar technology, you must have a visual observer always keep your aircraft within unaided sight (for example, no binoculars). However, even if you use a visual observer, you must still keep your unmanned aircraft close enough to be able to see it if something unexpected happens.
    Neither you nor a visual observer can be responsible for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at a time.
    You can fly during daylight or in twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
    Minimum weather visibility is three miles from your control station.
    The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet above the ground, and higher if your drone remains within 400 feet of a structure.
    The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 knots).
    You can’t fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
    No operations from a moving vehicle are allowed unless you are flying over a sparsely populated area.
    You can carry an external load if it is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.
    You can request a waiver of most operational restrictions if you can show that your proposed operation can be conducted safely under a waiver. The FAA will make an online portal available to apply for such waivers.

For information on FAA rules on UAS and related information, visit faa.gov/uas.