Waivers Under Part 107: Interactive Report

On Aug, 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration implemented Part 107 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, also known as the small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rule. It created a regulatory framework that enabled civil and commercial operations of UAS weighing 55 pounds or less. Generally, Part 107 requires operators to fly under 400 feet, within visual line of sight and only during daylight hours. UAS operators who want to fly outside the requirements of Part 107, such as to conduct beyond line of sight or nighttime operations, may request a waiver from the FAA. The FAA began issuing waivers the same day Part 107 took effect. As of July 31, 2017, 1,074 waivers have been issued.

Waivers by State

California operators lead the way with 136 total waivers issued, followed by Florida with 81 and Texas with 80.

The map is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators.

 

Top States

There are three states in which no waivers have been granted: Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.

The graph is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators.

 

Operations Authorized via Waiver

The majority of waivers (89%) have authorized operations at night, followed by operations in certain airspace (9%) and the simultaneous operation of multiple UAS (<2%). The specific sections from Part 107 that correspond with the graph below are as follows:

  • Nighttime = 14 CFR § 107.29 Daylight operation
  • Operation in Certain Airspace = 14 CFR §107.41 Operation in Certain Airspace
  • Multiple UAS = 14 CFR § 107.35 Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft
  • Operating Limitations = 14 CFR §107.51(c) and (d) Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft
  • Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) = 14 CFR §107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation
  • Flights Over People = 14 CFR § 107.39 Operations over human beings
  • From a Moving Vehicle = 14 CFR § 107.25(b) Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft
  • Visual Observer Requirement = 14 CFR § 107.33 Visual observer

The graph is also sortable based on operator locations.

 

Waivers by Month

The waiver process began on Aug. 29, 2016, with 70 total waivers issued in the first month. Excluding September 2016 when only 3 waivers were issued, 97 waivers per month have been released on average. The peak month was March 2017 with 144 waivers. Of all the issued waivers, 33 received amendments. Data was collected through July 31, 2017.

The graph is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators and operator locations.

 

Business Analysis

The majority of waivers went to small businesses (85%). There are a handful of large organizations that have also received waivers, including the railroad companies BNSF and Union Pacific; technology companies Intel, Qualcomm; aerospace company Lockheed Martin; media companies NBC and HBO; and energy companies Southern Company Services, NextEra Energy and Dow Chemical Company.

The graph is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators and operator locations.

 

Operators

Some operators received multiple waivers. Thus, the 1,074 total waivers account for 1,006 operators. Of these operators, 241* (24%) registered as a responsible individual without an associated company. A total of 51 (5%) first responder organizations (fire, police, etc.) received waivers, as well as a handful of academic institutions and governmental organizations. Two UAS tests sites, New Mexico State University and the University of Maryland, were granted waivers.

The graph is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators and operator locations.

* There are 2 ‘individual’ sub-categories for operators where an associated organization was found but the organization was not specifically detailed in the waiver.

 

Applications

Companies were evaluated for the applications in which they will use UAS. Each company can be associated with more than one application. The use of UAS for aerial photography was the most popular (79% of companies offered this service) followed by real estate (56%), aerial inspection (50%), construction (47%) and infrastructure (43%).

The graph is also sortable based on operator locations.

 

Crossover from 333 Exemptions (Pre-Part 107)

Before Part 107 was implemented, operators who wanted to fly UAS for commercial or civil purposes were required to receive an exemption from Section 333 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. AUVSI collected data on over 5,500 exemptions released by the FAA, and this data set provided insight into the burgeoning UAS industry (http://www.auvsi.org/our-impact/commercial-exemptions-numbers). Operators that received exemptions paved the way for the release of Part 107 and now represent over 26% of the waiver holders that are continuing to advance the capabilities of UAS in the National Airspace System.

The graph is also sortable based on the applications offered by the operators and operator locations.

 

Research Notes:

Waiver data was collected from the FAA’s database. The applications associated with each operator were assessed based on those detailed on the company’s website as well as from the documents submitted to their FAA dockets. The provided revenue and employee ranges were identified using Hoover’s database.