The FAA announced this week that it granted 76 Part 107 waivers on the first day that the new law came into effect (Monday, August 29.) The Part 107 waivers will allow for commercial operations outside of the restrictions of the Small UAS Rule, which include BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flight and flight at night. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that the agency is committed to processing waivers “quickly” and emphasized the flexible approach that the FAA is taking to commercial drone operations.
“We’ve found that when we are flexible, we open up greater opportunities,” Huerta said. Saying that the possibilities for commercial drone applications were “virtually limitless,” the administrator said that the FAA estimates there will be over 600,000 commercial operators during the first year that Part 107 – which allows for routine commercial operations – is active. The FAA also promised that some regulations to allow routine flight over people would be released by the end of this calendar year.
The FAA has established a waiver process that allows operators to use an online portal for requests. Waivers will be granted based on the safety case made by the business – Huerta said that most waivers granted were for flight at night. While the agency is working to process waivers efficiently, processing the waiver may take more time based upon the number of requests received and the complexity of the application.
The FAA recommends that commercial operators apply for a waiver 90 days before they plan to fly. Drone businesses with a Section 333 Exemption that require a waiver under Part 107 may have already received a letter granting the waiver or requesting more information. The FAA has provided more information about the process in this video.