“…I’m flying a drone as a volunteer to take pictures for a non-profit.”
“…I’m flying a drone in an outdoor racing competition, and there are prizes involved.”
“…I’m flying a drone to take pictures of my friend’s house, which I’m giving to her for free, but she is going to use them in the marketing materials to sell her house.”
“Do I need a license?”
So you’re flying a drone, and aren’t sure if it’s a hobby or commercial use case. And, if the latter, you’re not sure if you need a license?
I get a LOT of questions from people who walk the “grey area” line about whether they need a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, under Part 107.
The FAA clearly states that anyone who is flying a drone for business purposes needs to have a license, which requires passing a test.
The thing that is less clear? What really dictates a “business purpose.” Many drone flights, such as those done as a volunteer or for compensation that isn’t in the form of money, fall into a grey area, and many wonder if they really need to have a license.
“Using a sUAS to take photographs for your own personal use would be considered recreational,” according to the FAA’s website. “Using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a commercial operation.”
But is receiving a trophy or free drone for winning an FPV race considered compensation? Is a non-profit using photos that were donated to them still considered commercial? There are lots of grey areas here.
Let me preface this by saying the information below is NOT legal advice. Please contact an attorney to get legal advice — but I can weigh in.
First, you should get a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate anyway. Passing this test is your first entry into U.S. airspace — the safest airspace in the world. Plus, many insurance providers require a Part 107 license, and often companies won’t hire you to do a drone job for them if you are unlicensed. Continue reading I’m flying a drone for “X” reason, but I’m not getting paid! Do I still need a license?