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Do I Need a Pilot’s License to Fly a Drone?

BY Alan Perlman
6 January 2015

Long story short, it’s still up in the air, but for U.S. citizens, whether or not you need a pilot’s license to fly a drone is a contentious issue.

“I feel like there’s a colossal mess coming,” said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, an advocacy group for innovators and drone makers.

pilot license to fly drone

Yes, there may be a chance that as commercial UAV operators, like real estate aerial videographers or aerial land surveyors, will be required to have a special license.

For now, the FAA states that professional pilots need a 333 exemption grant to fly commercially in the U.S. – check out our step-by-step guide to drone certification here.

There’s also a chance that the terms of the license, however strict, may trickle down to recreational drone hobbyists. Would someone who buys their first DJI Phantom quadcopter need to go through the FAA and obtain a pilot’s license, one that includes dozens of hours of flying manned aircraft?

While asinine for many folks in the UAV community, it’s certainly possible.

Either way, the FAA is already under pressure. They manage one of the busiest and most intricate airspaces in the world. And new UAV technology is moving at an incredibly fast clip. Most of the developments we’ve seen in weren’t even available before 2010.

We’ll have to keep our eyes and ears peeled this year. It’ll be interesting one.

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