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Section 1  General Information

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16-1-1-1    PURPOSE. This volume provides information and policy guidance regarding how civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operators, public UAS operators, and model aircraft operators are authorized to conduct flight operations in a manner which complies with the applicable Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR).

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16-1-1-3    AUDIENCE. The primary audience for this volume is Flight Standards Service (AFS) aviation safety inspectors (ASI), their managers and supervisors, and other operational and administrative employees. The aviation industry and the general public may find this volume helpful for informational and planning purposes.

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16-1-1-5    POLICY. To operate in the National Airspace System (NAS), pilots and operators of UAS must demonstrate compliance with the applicable parts of 14 CFR, including 14 CFR part 11 grants of exemption, and/or Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA).

16-1-1-7    UAS INTEGRATION.

A.    Diverse Purposes. UAS come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. They may weigh more than 10,000 pounds or less than 1 pound. UAS weighing under 55 pounds total takeoff weight are considered by statute and regulation to be “small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).” Regardless of size, the responsibility of a pilot to fly safely and within the regulatory construct applies equally to all aircraft operations.

B.    Significant Challenges. Because they are inherently different from manned aircraft, introducing UAS operations into the National Airspace System (NAS) remains a significant challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the aviation community. As of the date of this change, UAS NAS integration has included:

1)    The issuance of COAs to public and civil aircraft operators as applicable;
2)    The issuance of special airworthiness certificates for civil UAS operations to include specific operating conditions and limitations;
3)    The issuance of part 11 grants of exemptions for sUAS (under 55 pounds) operations without an airworthiness certificate (also known as Public Law (PL) 112-95 Section 333 Exemptions) and larger UAS that include specific conditions and limitations;
4)    Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) operations conducted under 14 CFR part 107, including part 107 certificate of waivers (CoW); and
5)    Model Aircraft operations (hobby/recreation) that are conducted in accordance with 14 CFR part 101 subpart E.

16-1-1-9    APPLICABILITY AND AUTHORIZATION CRITERIA. The applicability and authorization for UAS operations are dependent on whether the operations are civil, public or model aircraft (part 101) and the UAS operation being within the territorial airspace of the United States (the airspace above the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and U.S. territorial waters). UAS operations outside the territorial airspace of the United States will be classified as either state or civil operations in accordance with international law.


A.    Civil. Civil aircraft operations must be conducted in accordance with one of the following:

1)    Part 107 sUAS (weighing less than 55 pounds), including those provisions of part 107 that are waived through a certificate of waiver.
2)    Part 11 grants of exemption.
3)    Special Airworthiness Certificate issued by the FAA Aircraft Certification Service (AIR), including operational limitations.

NOTE:  Special Airworthiness Certificates will be coordinated through the Delegation and Organizational Procedure Branch (AIR-160) staff with assistance from Air Traffic Organization (ATO) and AFS for final approval and disposition.

4)    Type certificate (TC) issued by AIR signifying the airworthiness of an aircraft manufacturing design. The certificate is issued by a regulating body and once issued, the design cannot be changed.

B.    Public. A public aircraft operation is one that is intrinsically governmental in nature usually conducted by Federal, state and local government agencies. UAS public aircraft operations must be conducted in accordance with one of the following:

1)    COA online application process (https://ioeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/, http://www.faa.gov/uas/).

NOTE:  COA online applications for UAS flight operation approvals are coordinated through the ATO in coordination with Aviation Safety (AVS).

2)    Part 107 sUAS provided that all of the provisions of part 107 are complied with, including any provisions of part 107 that are waived through a CoW.
3)    Part 11 grants of exemption.

C.    Model Aircraft. UAS operated for hobby or recreation must be conducted in accordance with one of the following:

1)    Part 101 subpart E Model Aircraft.
2)    Part 107 sUAS, including any provisions of part 107 that are waived through a CoW.
3)    Part 11 grants of exemption.

16-1-1-13    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. You may find additional information regarding UAS regulations and policies at http://www.faa.gov/uas/.

16-1-1-15 through 16-1-1-29 RESERVED.