UAV legal questions

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Matthew, Jul 4, 2022.

  1. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I was talking with my neighbor a few minutes ago, he had a few questions I really wasn’t able to answer:

    1) Commercial UAS license - required for commercial operation. But, suppose a guy’s business is farming (commercial operation), but it’s a privately owned farm and the drone would only be used for that business? I’m guessing that’s “commercial use”, but it seems like a gray area.

    2) Suppose that same guy starts looking at a drone that’s > 55lb. I did some poking around and found info on how to get a waiver, but I don’t know anything about that process.

    He’s working the numbers on potentially purchasing and using something for spot spraying (especially) and spraying small fields vs damaging crops by having to drive a spray rig back over for secondary applications vs using spray planes or helicopters.
     
  2. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm wondering what you see as being grey?
     
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  3. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just seems like a private owner, on private property (although the airspace
    wouldn’t be private), and a private business but that business is in the business of making money. But this is more of an academic question.

    The biggest question is how to handle a case where the drone is > 55lb.
     
  4. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    The question is: are you spraying herbicide on crops as a purely recreational activity? Just for fun?
     
  5. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The 55 lb weight limit is statutory, not regulatory. So what your neighbor is looking for is not an FAA exemption from Part 107 but a DOT exemption/waiver. The statutory reference is 49 USC 44807. The FAA has a brief discussion of it here.

    I will make the somewhat obvious comment that your neighbor's best bet is to find someone familiar with the process. This is not something to patch together by looking at other exemptions granted.
     
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  6. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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  7. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    BTW, if it was a family plot in the back yard where all of the produce was used by the family and nothing being sole, I might be willing to accept that "commercial" is grey.
     
  8. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't believe it's a commercial application unless he's selling application services....but, Brad will know better. ;)
     
  9. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

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    What if he purchases said 55+ drone (probably expensive) and deducts it as a business expense?? More commercial use ??
     
  10. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If it were his manned airplane.....still not commercial....until you sell services.


    But....he may need an applicator's license....but, that's not with the FAA.
     
  11. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    It's in furtherance of a business so it's not recreational. Take a look at the exemption for "droneseed" to see how a >55 lb ag drone got an exemption.
     
  12. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    How is "furtherance of a business" different than "incidental to that business"? It appears furtherance is used coincident with Sport Pilot privileges and the other is used with a Private Pilot privileges. In other places used it appears that it is interchangeable.


    I see what the FAA is doing here....because the crop is being sold....the spraying becomes a "furtherance of a business". But there are other aviation things used on the farm that are not considered a "furtherance of a business". Many farmers use small aircraft to spot crops and herd animals....and those things are not considered a commercial operation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
  13. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So Amazon doesn't need a waiver since they are not selling drone services?
     
  14. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Package delivery isn't a service? o_O:eek::confused:
     
  15. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not one that requires a drone.
     
  16. tree9er

    tree9er Filing Flight Plan

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    Spraying your own crop is personal use. Spraying others is commercial. Same as transporting or spraying your own crops yourself vs hauling or spraying for hire.

    that said I don’t anticipate a drone to be a viable spraying option at this time in history, spot spraying or not.

    *Edited to add I don’t know much about Part 107 ops. Was commenting specifically on whether spraying your own crops was a commercial venture, which is probably not the object of the original question, which it is not, except that I see now FAA might characterize it as such for aircraft/drone use.

    I know you can operate a truck hauling your own crops without falling under commercial regulations, and can also aerial spray your own crops without a commercial certificate. But not sure on the aircraft quals.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
  17. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Part 107 doesn't apply to any aircraft subject to the provisions of 49 U.S.C. 44809.

    §44809. Exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in sub- section (e), and notwithstanding chapter 447 of title 49, United States Code, a person may operate a small unmanned aircraft without specific certification or operating authority from the Federal Aviation Administration if the operation adheres to all of the following limitations:
    (1) The aircraft is flown strictly for recreational purposes.
    (2) The aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.
    ...

    It's not the same standard that demarcates private from commercial ops.
     
  18. MauleSkinner

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  19. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    For manned agricultural ops under part 137, there are both private and commercial ops. For unmanned part 137 ops, there is no such thing as recreational agricultural ops, so a part 107 remote pilot certificate is required (or the appropriate exemption for ops 55lbs or greater).
     
  20. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Sorry!
     
  21. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It will be cheaper to pay an aerial application company to spray his field. If he really wants to do it there are drones setup specifically for application. They see very limited use in the states but do exist.

    he will need waivers for the drone and part 137 authorization for spraying from the faa. He will also have to get aerial applicators license from the state.
     
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  22. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    The "incidental to business" standard that we know only really applies to Private Pilot operations. In the drone world, it is either operating under the recreational exemption, or it's not and is considered business use governed under Part 107.
     
  23. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    He’s done far more research on this than I have. He’s aware of the waiver but wasn’t sure what it actually waived. I wasn’t familiar with this part at all.

    He does use aerial spraying when necessary.
     
  24. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Flying for the furtherance of a business (even your own farm) requires part 107. Aerial application takes you even beyond the standard Part 107 rules.
     
  25. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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  26. Witmo

    Witmo Pattern Altitude

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    The FAA requires a Part 107 certificate for anyone flying for anything other than purely recreational purposes. They are going after drone pilots who post videos on YouTube of their vacations because posting videos for others to view regardless of whether any money is involved is not recreational in their estimation. The fines are not trivial and they progressively get greater for repeat "offenders."
     
  27. Aviatorbrew

    Aviatorbrew Pre-Flight

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    Just get the 107, it’s not that difficult, even for a non pilot,
    Then he is covered, why try to skirt the rules

    ok, what if his neighbor asks him to spray his property, then he is covered and can makes some extra bucks.
     
  28. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Again, it doesn't matter how heavy it is or whether he is doing it for himself or not, or for recreation or not. Part 107 isn't even sufficient. Any aerial application needs a specific approval from the FAA.
     
  29. Aviatorbrew

    Aviatorbrew Pre-Flight

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    Good to know, thanks
     
  30. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm surprised there wasn't more discussion about your link. It's a link to the grant of an exemption for an agricultural spraying service. I would, however link to this version because it is the original grant rather than a "short" 8-page amendment. The 24-page document gives some idea what this neighbor is facing and what the neighbor might have to put together. The point is, this is different kind of beast from a "simple" Part 107 exemption. There are companies out there which specialize in this area(just are there are companies which specialize obtaining Part 135 certificates)

    upload_2022-7-5_16-4-25.png
     
  31. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

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  32. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Thanks, I posted that from my phone. The good news is that if the subject of this thread is proposing something substantially similar, the approval is somewhat streamlined because the FAA can issue a summary grant based on similarity to a previously issued grant. Still, as you noted, there's a lot of work to this. Anyone who's going through the FAA exemption process should be hiring someone familiar with the process. It's long, involved, and complicated.
     
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  33. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    About 8 gal.

    https://www.dji.com/mobile/t30

    I don’t know how spray density or coverage is calculated. He was telling me that battery life and spray capacity are about the same - send it out, spray, recover, and then swap out the battery and spray tank, and repeat.
     
  34. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My neighbor seems to know more about this than I do. After doing some research yesterday and today on my own, some of the things he was telling me are starting to make sense. The dealer is going to have a hard time selling something like this if customers can’t get the permits to use it, so there is a support system in place to help navigate all that. He was asking me about getting the UAS certificate, but he seems to also have a pretty good handle on the rest of the things he’ll have to do.

    I don’t know if this will be practical for his operation or not, he’s still working that out. I hope it is, it would be cool to see.
     
  35. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I keep hearing that they are going after people, but precious few seem to receive any meaningful actions against them.
     
  36. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I would hope so. His business is involved. Due diligence.
     
  37. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    And people wonder why we aren’t making progress in some fields.

    How does this long and complicated process protect us from the guy flying a drone low over his own field?
     
  38. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Same way it protects us from a guy flying low over your house.
     
  39. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Well, but that's my question. The farmer isn't flying low over my house, or anyone's house, or even anyone. If the whole drone comes from together, he loses a bushel or two of crop.

    I guess the big question is where is the safety aspect of this? My thinking, the FAA's mandate is about safety, so they shouldn't be regulating just to regulate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
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  40. Checkout_my_Six

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    The waiver does take into account the geographic location....