US Drone Law
Cutting Edge Legal Analysis for
Cutting Edge Drone Technology
US Drone Law is not a law firm. The contents of this site do not represent legal advice and are for informational purposes only.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Public Drone Use
A local government may operate a drone under either the new Small UAS, Part 107 rule, or the government may apply for a public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), which permits nationwide flights in Class G airspace at or below 400 feet, self-certification of the drone pilot, and the option to obtain emergency COAs (e-COAs) under special circumstances. The FAA maintains an online portal (https://ioeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/Welcome.jsp) for processing COA applications.
If you are a local government or academic institution that is interested in obtaining a COA, you can initiate the process by reaching out to the online COA administrator (currently Dina Reyes-Garcia) via email at vog.a1500823957af@ai1500823957craG-1500823957seyeR1500823957.aniD1500823957. Send an email to the online COA administrator with the following information:
- The name of the public entity
- Small description of the drone, and
- The concept of the operation (a short paragraph should suffice)
The online COA administrator will provide you with the necessary credentials to log into the online application system. From there you can log in and begin to fill out the application.
Will I still need a Certificate or Waiver or Authorization (COA) to fly my drone under the Part 107 rule?
If your drone operations comply with the new Part 107 rule, then there is no need for you to retain your COA, whether it be Section 333 COA or a public COA. However, if your drone operations do not comply with the Part 107 rule (maybe you have not yet obtained a remote pilot certificate which is required to operate under the Part 107 rule) then you should continue to fly under those COA requirements until the COA expires. The FAA has indicated that its policy will be to not renew current Section 333 exemptions if the drone operation permitted under the exemption can be completed under the new Part 107 rule.
COAs for public aircraft operation provide significant latitude to the public entity. For this reason, it may be more advantageous for a public entity to continue operation under a COA. This will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.