Latest Commercial UAV Exemptions Comprise a Third of Total Granted

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now granted a total of 99 commercial exemptions for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations. Nearly one-third of these grants were announced all at once in the agency's most recent round of exemptions.

All dated on April 3, these Section 333 exemptions – 30 in total – span a number of industries: photography and cinematography, utility and pipeline inspections, precision agriculture, construction, aerial imaging, mapping and surveying, wildlife and forestry monitoring, and more.

After the FAA’s recent announcement of its blanket Certificate of Authorization or Waiver (COA) policy for Section 333 exemption holders, Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, told Unmanned Aerial Online about the coalition’s ongoing support of the FAA’s granting the approvals.

Concerning the hundreds of petitions in the FAA’s queue, Drobac and the Small UAV Coalition have commented on “as many as [they] can,’ he said. The group’s input can be found on many of the exemption documents, such as that of insurer USAA, which received an approval to help speed the review of insurance claims from its members following natural disasters.

“We have been the most active organization in this process,” Drobac said. “There’s too much potential here to have this go without our active participation.”

And, as the coalition stated in a recent release, the FAA no longer required a private pilot license and a medical certificate in a round of exemptions announced prior to these.

Greg Walden, senior counsel at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, confirmed with UAO that, going forward, the FAA will enact this change on all future exemptions. “The FAA will accept a recreational or sport pilot certificate and will no longer accept only a private pilot certificate and higher,” he said.

Sure enough, in these 30 newest exemptions, the documents state that the pilot “must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate” and “a current FAA airman medical certificate or a valid U.S. driver’s license.”

A full list can be found here.


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