Aardvark Video Takes an FAA Certification Training Course:
When we learned about the new FAA regulations on flying UAS’s (drones) weighing less than 55 pounds, we were very excited. This Part 107 Regulation will finally make flying drones commercially possible without the onerous time consuming Section 333 Exemption process… or so we thought. We recently found out the process as it stands now, is not as easy as we hoped.
A certificate of successful completion of a training course is required as a prerequisite to taking the FAA test that if passed will allow you to get legally certified and get a card to display.
Last week I went to an excellent class conducted by AviSight here in Las Vegas. It involved both classroom and actual live flight-testing. What I learned from this class is significant:
The first takeaway is that for Part 107 certification the FAA requires you to know a lot of the same stuff that an actual pilot would need to know and to do a lot of the same steps in preparation for and during a flight that a pilot needs to do.
We were taught aeronautical theory such as understanding how a wing or propeller works and why it does, how to read pilot maps, the acronyms used in flying, apps to aid your flying, classes of airports, the required roles for operators flying drones, how to understand weather forecasts, risk management procedures, how a drone can and can’t be configured, record keeping, the limitations that govern what and where you can fly and much, much more.
With all this the most significant take away was that if you are flying in air space, even though less than 400 feet high that is anywhere near an airport, you have to get permission from the tower to fly in that area. There are apps that show you the restricted areas and in the case of Clark County where Las Vegas is, just about the entire county because of several airports is restricted airspace.
That means if someone calls you up and says I want you to fly over a certain house to take video of it this afternoon and if you are doing it for a business purpose, in most of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas you would need to call an airport to get permission. There is an app called “b4ufly” released by the FAA that shows the airspace anywhere in the country and how the size of airports create the different categories of airspace. It divides airspace into Class B, C, D and E dictated by airport size showing the restricted airspace at different altitudes. What makes it difficult is that even the smaller airports require you to get permission if you are within roughly 5 miles of the runways.
To me this is something that really needs to be looked at because I doubt if airport towers are prepared to react immediately to hundreds of requests every day to fly a drone that’s under 55 pounds. Our business, the video business, is not based on getting permission for something a month or so in advance. It is based on being able to react to a customers need immediately. I’m hoping there will be a FAA plan to address this. In the meantime, the panacea we had hoped part 107 would be, doesn’t appear to be there.