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Commercial vs Non-Commercial Ops- FAA
867 8 2017-5-29
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VictorMike
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I'm trying to get someone's take on flying your drone for recreational purposes while holding a 107 certificate. One school of thought which was presented to me was that a Part 107 certificate holder is bound to Part 107 rules all the time even operating for recreational purposes. Before I make a call to the FSDO I want to see if anyone else has some thoughts about this.
Unfortunately I have a little more to lose than just a 107 certificate being ATP rated and working for an airline.
2017-5-29
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fans0e4c7462
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The way I read the rules is that any pilot of a UAV is bound by the rules set by the FAA.  As a licensed pilot you are at risk of losing your license and ability to charge for your services if you bend the rules.
2017-5-29
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DroneFlying
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That's a good question and one I wondered about myself, since it's more than academic for me too. I'd encourage you to go ahead and make that call rather than taking the word of some stranger on the internet, but I believe what they'll tell you is that the FAA's wording should be taken very literally. In other words, when the regulations distinguish between "flying for fun" and "flying for work or business", the clear implication is that the reason you're flying determines which set of regulations apply for a given flight, and it's certainly possible for a 107 pilot to fly just for fun. In fact, it would be odd if the more restrictive regulations always applied to certified remote pilots and the less restrictive ones to non-certified pilots: if anything, it should be the reverse.
2017-5-29
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SkySailorMan
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You asked for a "take" on the subject, so I'll give you mine. I wouldn't think that holding a Part 107 cert binds ALL of your drone flying henceforth and forever more to being subject to Part 107 rules and regs. Rather, I'd think it depends on whether or not your flight is related directly (or perhaps even somewhat indirectly) to producing revenue. If it's a commercially-related flight, then you are subject to Part 107 - that much is simple.
However, if your flight is for pure fun and enjoyment with no commercial income or benefit, then I'd think you're not subject to Part 107 during that flight. To reiterate, this is only my take - I don't know what the FAA would say, but I at least have the perspective of one holding a Part 61 PPL.
2017-5-29
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VictorMike
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I want to play some FAA devils advocate. I remember a case where a private pilot went flying with his friend and his flight instructor. His flight instructor was sitting in the back seat and not acting as PIC (pilot in command). Well this particular private pilot had a runway incursion and the FAA took certificate action against the flight instructor in addition to the private pilot. The argument was he held the highest rating and as a CFI should have had control of the situation. Keep in mind this guy was in the back seat not acting as PIC. Cases like that make me doubt the "just for fun" distinction. We have many years of case studies, and certificate action history regarding Part 61 but Part 107 still almost has wet ink. I'm sure as certificate actions takes place we will get clarification for these situations but I also know the FSDO system is quite fragmented. I've witnessed things that one FSDO says is ok and another doesn't. These are all things to think about but I want to see what some friends at a few FSDO's say. I'll follow up because for those of you who hold Part 61 ratings and 107 ratings you could inadvertently put your 61 rating in jeopardy.
2017-5-29
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DroneFlying
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VictorMike Posted at 2017-5-29 19:13
I want to play some FAA devils advocate. I remember a case where a private pilot went flying with his friend and his flight instructor. His flight instructor was sitting in the back seat and not acting as PIC (pilot in command). Well this particular private pilot had a runway incursion and the FAA took certificate action against the flight instructor in addition to the private pilot. The argument was he held the highest rating and as a CFI should have had control of the situation. Keep in mind this guy was in the back seat not acting as PIC. Cases like that make me doubt the "just for fun" distinction. We have many years of case studies, and certificate action history regarding Part 61 but Part 107 still almost has wet ink. I'm sure as certificate actions takes place we will get clarification for these situations but I also know the FSDO system is quite fragmented. I've witnessed things that one FSDO says is ok and another doesn't. These are all things to think about but I want to see what some friends at a few FSDO's say. I'll follow up because for those of you who hold Part 61 ratings and 107 ratings you could inadvertently put your 61 rating in jeopardy.

the FAA took certificate action against the flight instructor in addition to the private pilot. The argument was he held the highest rating and as a CFI should have had control of the situation. Keep in mind this guy was in the back seat not acting as PIC

Of course I'm not familiar with the specifics of that case, but based on what you wrote I'm not surprised by it. If the CFI wasn't acting as PIC then why was he in the airplane at all? Normally the only reason a pilot would have -- and bring along -- a CFI is because the pilot isn't yet certified to be able to complete the flight on their own, hence the CFI. Sitting in the left seat -- or not, as was apparently the case here -- doesn't automatically quality or disqualify someone as PIC, so I'd guess the FAA was skeptical about the instructor's claims and decided that he was just saying that to get off the hook.

Having said all that, I think you have valid concerns about the 107 issue. For example, if you were investigated for flying in class G airspace within 5 miles of an airport without giving notice, you'd probably need to provide some credible evidence that you were "flying for work or business" for the FAA to buy it. And if you were caught flying beyond VLOS, it's possible you'd get penalized more severely than someone who's not a certified remote pilot.

In any case, based on how infrequent FAA action is relative to drones, you'd probably have to do something pretty outrageous -- or do it very often and publicly like Casey Neistat -- before you'd ever hear from the FAA.
2017-5-30
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VictorMike
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Verdict is in from the FAA. If you are operating commercially you're bound by 107. If you are not you're bound by hobby rules. It applies either way even if your sUAS is registered for commercial ops. This is the first instance I've ever heard of in all my dealings with the FAA that you aren't bound by the restrictive rating.
2017-6-4
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Masdog
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So here is a weird one. Say you have a part 107 and your in uncontrolled g airspace and within 5 miles of an airport but you not flying commercially and flying for fun. Do we still have to contact the tower if we plan to fly for fun?
2017-6-4
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VictorMike
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Masdog Posted at 2017-6-4 18:57
So here is a weird one. Say you have a part 107 and your in uncontrolled g airspace and within 5 miles of an airport but you not flying commercially and flying for fun. Do we still have to contact the tower if we plan to fly for fun?

        
Technically no (according to my local FSDO, some may say otherwise) as long as the ops are for recreational purposes. In the US though you won't find any towered airports operating in Class G airspace. At minimum towered airspace is Class D. All of the guidelines given from the FAA for recreational flights are just that- guidelines. But i'll tell you this as a pilot, we don't want to hit your drone guidelines or not. Think about the math for a second, a Cessna 182 cruising along at 140kts hits a Mavic flying at 30kts producing a collision of 170kts... thats devastating if it comes through the prop and windshield. If you want to fly within a few miles of an airport be cognizant of other pilots, active runways in use, the altitude at which the aircraft conduct pattern ops at, and if at all possible tell someone like the FBO manager. Also don't fly above 400ft AGL. The reason is because we fly at 500ft AGL- And those who film themselves flying off a cliff for miles but they think its ok because the app says 50ft, you're wrong and reckless- its all based on height above ground level that the thing is flying over, not where you're standing. I kind of wear both hats as an airline pilot and someone who loves flying drones in the sense that I see what could happen- that comes with years of training for things you hope to never see.
2017-6-4
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