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Part 107 or COA/333

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Can anyone one shed some light on this?  As a commercial licensed business and drone pilot do I need a COA or waiver if I'm flying under Part 107?  The below statement was copied directly from the FAA web site.  

Section 333 vs. Part 107: What Works for You?The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) new small drone rule – formally known as Part 107 – is effective on August 29. You may also be wondering what happens to your Section 333 exemption grant or petition for exemption. View the video here.

The biggest question is whether you are better off flying under the provisions of Part 107, or should continue using your existing exemption?

Your exemption is valid until it expires – usually two years after it was issued. Even after Part 107 becomes effective, you may choose to fly following the conditions and limitations in your exemption.

However, if you want to operate under the new Part 107 regulations, you’ll have to obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow all of the rule’s operating provisions. You must apply for a waiver if some parts of your operation don’t meet the rule’s requirements.

If you already have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization under your Section 333 exemption – a “COA” – you can continue to fly under the COA limitations until it expires. If you don't already have a COA, you probably won't need one when the new drone rules go into effect.

However, if you want to fly in controlled airspace, you will need permission from FAA air traffic control. Details about obtaining that permission will be online at www.faa.gov/uas when the small drone rule is effective on August 29, 2016.

If you applied for a Section 333 exemption but haven’t received it yet, you should have received a letter from the FAA with specific information about the status of your petition.  Generally, if your petition is pending and falls within the provisions of the rule, you should follow the steps outlined in the rule.

Whether you choose to fly under your exemption or under the new small drone rule is your choice, depending on how you want to operate your aircraft. You’ll have to compare the conditions and limitations in your exemption to the operating requirements in the rule to determine which one best addresses your needs.

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On 7/14/2017 at 10:38 PM, AIFrank said:

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Can anyone one shed some light on this?  As a commercial licensed business and drone pilot do I need a COA or waiver if I'm flying under Part 107?  The below statement was copied directly from the FAA web site.  

If you are flying in controlled airspace, yes. If you are flying in Class G airspace, no.

"However, if you want to fly in controlled airspace, you will need permission from FAA air traffic control. Details about obtaining that permission will be online at www.faa.gov/uas when the small drone rule is effective on August 29, 2016."

The above quote tells me that the article is dated. Part 107 has been effective for almost a year now and things change. As a pilot, you also need to stay current. This includes the rules and regulations. But you know this already...

Edited by R Martin

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As I interpret it, no you don't need a COA as a P107 pilot. You either fly under the rules of your 333 exemption and use the COA with the 333 OR you fly under P107 rules. P107 rules state that for flight in certain airspace (B, C, D, Surface E), you need to obtain prior approval from FAA using the web portal to request airspace authorization.

P.S. - please note I merged the duplicate thread you posted in the DJI forum into this one.

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Hi All,

A little background:

I received a 333 exemption all on my own in February 2016. We have had two successful summers of flying here in the mountains near Vail, CO. Flights near our local airport KEGE have been no problem in the past as I've been able to contact the control tower, receive permission, and fly legally. All other provisions of my 333 were adhered to as well.

A few weeks ago, a request for flight within the 5 mile radius of KEGE was run up the flagpole to the local Air Traffic Control supervisor. We spoke about four times on the phone, and even discussed the six specific locations we hoped fly, offering to adhere to whatever ceiling AGL he was willing to grant. Eventually, he called me back to say that "people higher than him" in the ATC world suggested he not approve my flight under my 333 (though it has prescriptions for granting such approvals) because sUAS commercial operations are "going the way of the Part 107."

Fair enough, I thought. I want to be on good terms with this controller and all controlling authorities at my local airport. And, as a Part 61 Private Pilot all I had to do was take an online test and pass  (https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_content.aspx?pf=1&preview=true&cID=451) - not the full Part 107 knowledge test at a testing center... so easy enough, I'll get my 107. That is all done, and I now have my Part 107.

---

The regs (specifically §107.43   Operation in the vicinity of airports) seem very clear to me. They stipulate that:

"No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC)."

So the crux of my question is three-fold:

1) Where in FAR Part 107 does it specifically say that "you need to obtain prior approval from FAA using the web portal to request airspace authorization," to quote Steve Bennett above?

**The only place I see where Part 107 mentions the word "web" is under §107.77(c)(2) - Change of name or address**

2) If §107.43 allows for ATC clearance to fly within controlled airspace, then wouldn't a waiver be granting a Part 107 operator an exemption to this requirement (i.e., they could fly without notifying the tower because they have been granted a waiver.)?

3) When people say, "my understanding is 'you' have to request authorization on the FAA web portal, my question is: From where do you derive this understanding? So, I have read through the 52-page FAA Advisory Circular (AC 107-2, link here) and sections relevant to this discussion - specifically section 5.8 - within which the regs are restated, and a sentence mentions the "current authorization process.":

"Operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from air traffic control (ATC). The link to the current authorization process can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/ .

**But, Section 1.1 of Chapter 1 of AC 107-2 specifically says "It (meaning the Advisory Circular) does not provide, nor is it intended to provide, a legal interpretation of the regulations."

Sorry for the long post, but it seems that Part 107 only really requires permission from the control tower, am I wrong?

Thanks,

Tommy (Former 333 pilot, now flying under 107).

P.S. The Controller Supervisor with whom I spoke said he would be OK if I had a handheld aviation radio so he could contact me instantly if needed... is that the (simple) answer?

Edited by Tommy Wessel

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Specifially using the web portal to request airspace waivers is not written in Part 107.  However it is in the FAQ ( https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/  )  and ATC has been notified to not give verbal approval.

**  I'm just the messenger here !

Quote
  1. How do I request permission from Air Traffic Control to operate in Class B, C, D, or E airspace? Is there a way to request permission electronically?
    You can request airspace authorization through an online web portal available at www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver.

  2. Can I contact my local air traffic control tower or facility directly to request airspace permission?
    No. All airspace permission requests must be made through the online portal.

 

Edited by Dave Pitman
  • Like 1

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13 hours ago, Tommy Wessel said:

"Operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from air traffic control (ATC). The link to the current authorization process can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/ .

P.S. The Controller Supervisor with whom I spoke said he would be OK if I had a handheld aviation radio so he could contact me instantly if needed... is that the (simple) answer?

@Dave Pitman is correct. You need either a waiver or authorization (obtained from the same form) if you are operating in anything other than Class G airspace and the only place to get it is through the online portal https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/  (also make a copy of the application because that needs to be attached in order for the authorization or waiver to be valid).

A local controller is not supposed to give authorization to operate but it happens. Count yourself lucky in that you have a controller who will work with you but on the flip side, if anything goes wrong you are doubly in deep stuff for operating in controlled airspace without FAA authorization/waiver. Make sense? Probably not but thems the cards we been dealt.

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The FAA did not explicitly say it.  But they issued an internal memorandum for their ATC facilities not to give out authorizations and that it must be coordinated by the headquarters.  

https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/FAA_JO_7200_23_2.pdf

 

Now as a pilot if they did give you an authorization verbally.  I would accept it as they are violating their own internal rules.  However, just know its not the proper procedure for the system.  The reason they did this is because they wanted to in some way, albeit not perfectly establish some sort of standardization on how sUAS would operate in controlled airspace.   I talked at length with a local TRACON specialist and they explained why they can't over the phone issue a clearance.  The big thing the FAA wanted was to prevent individual ATC facilities from making their own procedures.  Also all of the altitudes they pre-approve on those maps which end up in your COA have a precise analysis done to ensure either lateral and vertical separation criteria are met with IFR traffic.   Reason why it takes longer if you need an altitude outside those maximums , they have to come up with a procedure that headquarters approves for the sUAS to fly at those altitudes.  This usually would result in a waiver over an authorization, as more people would be involved to ensure the sUAS operation can be done safely outside the minimum established criteria.

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