The FAA issued a press release today concerning UAS operators who hold a Section 333 operating exemption. In it they say:
After a comprehensive risk analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised the unmanned aircraft (UAS) “blanket” altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators to 400 feet. Previously, the agency had put in place a nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for such flights up to 200 feet.
This COA change will allow small unmanned aircraft operated by commercial operators (not model aircraft users) to fly their licensed UAS up to the new limit in all of the area where they are currently permitted to fly.
This change does not remove the need to comply with the restrictions already in place, i.e.
Operators must fly under daytime Visual Flight Rules, keep the UAS within visual line of sight of the pilot and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:
- Five nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
- Three NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
- Two NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
- Two NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.