Rules about flying quadcopters in the US

Want to fly a quadcopter but do not know the rules regarding flying these multi-rotor air vehicle? Well, in the United States, flying quadcopters is legal and may only be complicated if the user is doing it for commercial purposes.

As long as one is not flying it for business, then there is nothing to worry about. Here is some useful information that one needs to know about the rules in flying non-commercial quadcopters.

Class G

Quadcopters fall under the class G category of the Federal Aviation Administration or the FAA. The FAA has several categories for airspace regulation.

The FAA monitors closely Class A or the airspace where commercial planes fly which is 18,000 to 60,000 feet from ground. Those under class B are the airports, classes C and D are for smaller cities.
Quadcopters are under Class G which is an unregulated airspace that is 700 to 1200 feet from ground.

Commercial quadcopters

Even commercial quadcopters are legal in the United States. In fact, the FAA so far only has filed one case about the use of commercial quadcopters.

The FAA sued (later dismissed) hobbyist and photographer Raphael Pirker for flying a quadcopter at the University of Virginia to shoot a commercial. The FAA had asked Pirker to pay a fine of $10,000. Pirker’s lawyers however argued that there are no regulations about the use of quadcopters for commercial purposes.

The National Transportation Safety Board sided with Pirker and stated that the FAA “has not issued an enforceable Federal Acquisition Regulation regulatory rule governing model aircraft operation; has historically exempted model aircraft from the statutory FAR definitions of ‘aircraft’ by relegating model aircraft operations to voluntary compliance with the guidance expressed in [the 2007 policy notice].”

The present guidelines of the FAA allow private operators to fly. But operators may need to seek the approval of other agencies or units such as universities, police departments and special groups before flying.