The FAA’s new rule, codified in 14 CFR 107, and effective August 2016, does not apply to drones flown strictly for fun (hobby or recreational purposes) as long as the drone is flown in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 336) which defines a model aircraft as “an unmanned aircraft that is (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.”
In the rule Congress also expressly limited the FAA’s authority over model aircraft (drones flown for fun and recreation) stating that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft” so long as the following conditions are met:
- the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
- the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
- the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
- the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
- when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).