Release Date: April 19, 2021
What is a Waiver?
A waiver is an official document issued by the FAA which approves certain operations of aircraft outside the limitations of regulation. You may request to fly specific drone operations not allowed under Part 107 by requesting an operational waiver. These waivers allow drone pilots to deviate from certain rules under Part 107 by demonstrating they can still fly safely using alternative methods.
Drone Operations that Require Waivers
You do NOT need a waiver to fly a drone following Part 107 rules. You DO need a waiver when you want to operate a drone contrary to the rules in Part 107 under the waivable operations listed in the chart below:
|Drone Operations That Require Waivers|
|You want to…||Part 107 regulation you need a waiver from…|
|Fly a small UAS from a moving aircraft or a vehicle in populated areas||§ 107.25 – Operation from a Moving Vehicle or Aircraft|
|Fly a small UAS at night without anti-collision lighting||§ 107.29(a)(2) – Operation at Night|
|Fly a small UAS during periods of civil twilight without anti-collision lighting||§ 107.29(b) – Operation at Night|
|Fly a small UAS beyond your ability to clearly determine its orientation without unaided vision||§ 107.31 – Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation|
|Use a visual observer without following all visual observer requirements||§ 107.33 – Visual Observer|
|Fly multiple small UAS with only one remote pilot||§ 107.35 – Operation of Multiple Small UAS|
|Fly over a person with a small UAS which does not meet operational categories 1,2,3, or 4||§ 107.39 – Operation Over Human Beings|
|Fly a small UAS:
||§ 107.51 – Operating limitations for Small Unmanned Aircraft|
|Fly over moving vehicles with a small UAS that does not meet operational categories 1,2,3, or 4 or other conditions||§ 107.145 – Operations over Moving Vehicles|
Operations Over Human Beings: What does “over” mean?
The term “over” refers to the flight of the small unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person. For example, a small UAS that hovers directly over a person’s head, shoulders, or extended arms or legs would be an operation over people. Similarly, if a person is lying down, for example at a beach, an operation over that person’s torso or toes would also constitute an operation over people. A flight where a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of how long the flight is over the person, would be considered an operation over people.
Operations Over Human Beings (Open-Air Assemblies): What does “sustained flight” mean?
Sustained flight over an open-air assembly includes hovering above the heads of persons gathered in an open-air assembly, flying back and forth over an open-air assembly, or circling above the assembly in such a way that the small unmanned aircraft remains above some part the assembly. Sustained flight over an open-air assembly of people does not include a brief, one-time transiting over a portion of the assembled gathering, where the flight is unrelated to the assembly.
Operations Over Human Beings: What is an “open-air assembly”?
The FAA employs a case-by-case approach in determining how to apply the term “open-air assembly.” Potential examples of open-air assemblies may include sporting events, concerts, parades, protests, political rallies, community festivals, or parks and beaches during certain events. Some potential examples that might not be considered open-air assemblies include individual persons or families exiting a shopping center, athletes participating in friendly sports in an open area without spectators, individuals or small groups taking leisure in a park or on a beach, or individuals walking or riding a bike along a bike path. Whether an open-air assembly exists depends on a case-by-case determination based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
How to Apply for a Waiver
Step 1: Determine what you need.
- Waiver Approval Guidance (PDF)
Decide what kind of waiver you need. Request a waiver for only what you need to fly your mission.
These FAA documents and webinars can help you learn more about the waiver process and how to fill out the application:
- Waiver Application Instructions (PDF)
- Waiver Safety Explanation Guidelines
- Sample safety justifications for small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or drone waivers
- “Where’s My Waiver?” – a webinar about the waiver process
- “Just the Facts” – a webinar about how to fill out the waiver application form
- “Risky Business” – a webinar about how to do how to do risk assessments for successful waiver applications
Create an account, or log into your existing account. Select “Fly a sUAS under Part 107.” (Note: You do not need to register a drone to request a waiver but you must register prior to any operation. When prompted to input make/model information for your drone, simply keep selecting “next” to bypass the payment forms.)
Submit your application, including all supporting documents and attachments, through your FAA DroneZone account. Select the “Operational Waiver” option.
Note: If you intend to use your waiver at night, you must include complete details of how you will mitigate risk at night in your waiver application or you may be restricted to daylight operations only.
Step 3: The Decision.
The FAA will do their best to review and approve or disapprove waiver requests within 90 days of submission. Processing times will vary based on the complexity of your request and the completeness of your initial application.
If the FAA needs additional information to complete our review, they will contact the Responsible Person listed on your waiver application. Requests for information will be sent to you via DroneZone. If the FAA needs to send you a request for information, you will receive a DroneZone status change email and will need to log into your account to view and respond to the request. Requests will include questions to answer, instructions for responding, and a time limit for responses. If you do not respond to a request for information within the time limit, your application will be canceled and you will have to resubmit it.
Failure to adhere to the terms of the waiver may result in a violation of the regulation being waived.
Read the Paperwork Reduction Act and Privacy Statements (PDF) to learn more.
Visit the Emergency Operations page to learn more about expedited approvals for first responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations.