According to the laws of the United States of America, any aircraft operation that is carried out in the national airspace must be legal. This means that the operation must be done with an aircraft that is certified and registered. A pilot has to have a license as well as an approval to operate. The Secretary of Transport, by virtue of Section 333 of the 2012 Modernization and Reform Act of the FAA, is granted the authority to determine a certificate of airworthiness for a UAS to safely perform any operation in the National Airspace System (NAS).
The authority is also given the power to offer case-by-case authorization of commercial operations performed by certain unmanned aircraft before the Small UAS Rule will be finalized. Once the rules are done, it will be the basic process for the authorization of small UAS to operate. Currently, there is a lot of controversy related to the UAS/UAV process of certification in the United States of America. However, what the FAA is saying is that anyone who likes to fly in the United States of America and wants to make money with drones, needs to petition and get 333 exemption grants.
Should I go for a section 333 exemption?
If your plan is to fly your drone recreationally, then you do not need the section 333 exemption or any UAV certification. All that is required of you is to follow the standard safety guidelines, laid down by the FAA which includes flying the drone over your own property only.
Some of those guidelines are:
1. Fly during the day
2. Fly under 400 feet
3. Do not fly in a national park area
4. Do not fly over people directly
As of December 2015, the FAA gave directives that people, who are flying drones, weighing over 55 lbs/250g, should register it with them. This also involves those flying it for recreational purposes. If you want to use the drone for commercial purposes, the FAA requires the exemption.
Irrespective of the law, if a professional drone pilot has a section 333 exemption, it offers him or her some advantages:
1. It can serve as a credible indicator to potential prospects, especially when you are promoting your business.
2. People who already have the section 333 exemption will have priority application access if the FAA unveils their updated regulations regularly.
3. You may be provided with a more favorable rate when you file application for drone liability insurance.
Companies that applies for a section 333 exemption
There are many opportunities for commercial drone pilots. Section 333 Exemption has been awarded to a large number of companies. Some of the categories are listed below.
1. Real estate and film/cinematography applications
2. Precision agriculture as well as the inspection and monitoring of utility and energy infrastructure
Is it important to have a pilot license?
The particular company or the individual that is running the company that has a section 333 exemption is not compelled to have a pilot license. However, anyone that is flying the drone/UAV is required to possess a pilot license. The pilot in question can be anyone. He or she can be an employee of a company or just an independent contractor. The most important thing is that he or she must meet the requirement, as stipulated in the section 333 exemption guideline.
What does it mean to be a licensed pilot?
It means that the person has at least a sport or recreational pilot license. It is not compulsory for you to have a private pilot license. However, if you already have one, then you have met the requirement already. You may also possess a commercial or transport license, but for most people, this does not apply, except if such person also have a career in aviation.
The FAA has already listed on its website that under the grant of exemption a PIC should possess either a sport pilot, airline transport, private, recreational or a commercial pilot certificate. The PIC is also required to possess a current FAA Airman Medical Certificate or a driver’s license from the U.S. The PIC is also required by the FAA to meet the flight review requirements.
However, what is important here is that even if you or someone in your company does not satisfy the requirement for the pilot license currently, it is still possible for you to go ahead and apply for your exemption if you are determined to bring in UAS into your business. You can also use the driver’s license form the United States of America to substitute for a current medical certificate.
Paperwork you need to file for section 333 exemption
You can hire a company to do this for you or go ahead and do it yourself. However, a few of the steps to follow include:
· Review the guidelines as stipulated on the FAA website and find out what you need to submit
· Petition filing for exemption on the public docket
· Under your exemption, you need to apply for an N-number for each UAV you want to fly
· Find out if you are required or not to submit a separate COA application.
What is the cost of a section 333 exemption?
Actually, there are no fees attached to the petitioning for exemption. However, there is a fee applicants are required to pay when filing for a drone N-number registration. This is according to the exemption guideline. What most people do is to hire someone who already has the experience of navigating the filing process. The most important thing is to know what information the FAA is requesting for and the right format to provide them.
How you can make use of your exemption
Those who have the section 333 exemption are permitted to charge some amount of money for services that they performed with their special unmanned area vehicle. Operators of this kind, have a special opportunity in the world of Unmanned Aerial vehicle services. In addition, having a section 333 exemption, gives you the free will to operate you unmanned areal vehicle (UAV) without any fear or restrictions. In a nutshell, it gives you a complete peace of mind while flying.