Drone Regulations

Flying a drone aircraft is something that many individuals are taking part in, though few do the research to discover the rules and regulations of operating such a machine. It is extremely important to be up to date on drone laws, especially those which govern where a drone can be flown and where it must avoid. Doing your due diligence and researching the specifics to your area will prevent unnecessary complications and allow you to enjoy your drone to the max.

What are Drones?

A drone is an unmanned aircraft system without a human pilot on board that has become a popular purchase for folks looking for a unique form of entertainment. Many drones have cameras that attach to them, giving individuals a bird’s eye view of the land. Because of these features, there have been privacy concerns that have been raised, which have led to several laws dictated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) as to where and when drones can be flown.

New FAA Regulations

Beginning August 29, 2016 new FAA regulations regarding drone usage will become active for the public. Some notable features of these regulations include the fact that drones must be able to be seen with the naked eye when in the air, must operate only in the daytime, and must yield the right of way to other aircraft.


Unmanned aircraft systems must be able to be seen with the naked eye at all times while flying. This means that individuals must be able to view the drone without needing the help of devices such as binoculars or a telescope. It is permissible to use corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) when trying to view the drone.

Time of Operations

Drones may only be operated during the daylight. Though daylight hours are defined as between sunrise and sunset, it is permissible to operate a drone during civil twilight. Civil twilight is the time 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset, when the visibility is still acceptable.

Right of Way

Since drones are used mainly for business or recreational purposes, they must yield to any other aircraft that may be in the air. This means that a drone cannot invade a manned aircraft’s flying space for any reason or the individual flying the drone will be breaking the law. If a drone is on course to intersect with another aircraft, the pilot must immediately change course to avoid a potential problem.


Finally, there are many limitations on where and when you may operate a drone aircraft. You may not operate the drone from a moving vehicle, unless you happen to be over a sparsely populated area. In addition, you may not operate a drone from a moving aircraft at any time, regardless of the location or circumstance. Finally, individuals may not operate a drone carelessly or recklessly and the drone may not carry hazardous materials on board.

In conclusion, drones have become very popular in recent years as a new way to see the world. They offer unique vantage points and can be very useful for a variety of reasons. It is crucial, however, that you do thorough research about drone laws and regulations to make sure that you are in compliance. There are certain situations, for example, where flying a drone may be permissible normally but special circumstances change the rules. Two great examples of this would be both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Typically, drone operation is permitted in Philadelphia and Cleveland but it was banned during the entirety of the Conventions this summer due to security reasons. Being certain of the rules before you fly will save you time, money, and potentially legal problems that will be sure to ground you from enjoying your drone in the future. If you would like more information about the FAA law regarding small drones, you can find it here.

Yunhong Liu is the founder of We Talk UAV, a new drone community and news site launching later this year.  

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