Written by attorney Donald A Pumphrey Jr.

Flying a Large Drone (over 55 pounds)

Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the vast majority are small quadcopters, weighing only a few pounds. Any UAS over .55 pounds is regulated by the FAA, and any of these standard drones, under 55 pounds are considered Small UASs (sUAS). A minority though are over 55 pounds and do not hold the title “small” they also require a whole separate set of rules. With an estimated 5 million UASs in the skies at the end of this year, the number that are larger is going to increase

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Note: We have been contacted by readers that this article incorrectly states the registration requirement is mandatory. The phrase has been clarified within the article, but this was not what the article was stating, nor is it entirely correct. FAA registration of a UAS IS mandatary unless you qualify as a model aircraft, the Taylor decision this summer ruled that the FAA cannot regulate model aircraft at all. If you are flying for ANY compensation, the FAA can create rules, and the registration rule is still very much in effect. The requirements to qualify as a model aircraft do require conforming with AMA rules, it is still recommended you register, even if flying for fun, as any accident could theoretically result in fines from failure to register if it’s deemed you were not following AMA guidelines.

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