Commercial drone pilots with an sUAS Part 107 license find work in a variety of fields.
Industries around the world are adopting UAV technology for a wide range of use cases. You and your organization might already be taking advantage of drones.
If so, you may also have faced some of the frustrations inherent in the limitations of the Part 107.
While the Part 107 allows drone pilots to fly for commercial purposes, there are several rules they must follow. Pilots are not allowed to fly over people, fly at night, operate above 400 feet above ground level, and more. The limitations can be annoying at best and reduce the beneficial impact of UAV technology.
One of the more common limitations pilots face is flying at night. Several UAV applications such as search & rescue operations and some thermal inspections may need to occur after the sun has set.
Thankfully, the FAA offers the 107.29 Daylight Operations waiver – otherwise known as the drone night waiver.
What is Different at Night?
The FAA implemented the daylight operation rule for good reason.
The human eye performs differently at night than it does during the day. Cones, the part of the eye responsible for detecting color, perform poorly in low light.
Additionally, the eye sees halos around light, blind spots occur near the center point of your vision, and objects can appear blurry.
All of these factors can become dangerous when flying a drone.
Getting a 107.29 Waiver
While it is great that the FAA has a waiver process in place, the path to obtaining a waiver is not well defined.
The FAA offers a guide to completing waivers; however, it leaves much of the details for the individual to figure out. Then, you need to wait approximately 90 days to see if you are approved or not.
Given the lack of a well-defined path to waivers, the average commercial drone pilot or organization will benefit significantly from expert assistance. Seek the professional opinion of people who have already received the waiver you are applying for.
Drone consultancy firms are excellent resources for anyone looking for help in developing a solid waiver application.
When developing a waiver application for flying at night, your primary goal is to show the FAA you and your organization can fly safely after the sun has gone down.
This is especially true when you consider the difficulties our eyes have at seeing in the dark.
What Your Night Waiver Application Should Include
Your application should include your operation’s safety specifics, explain how you will conduct flying UAVs at night, and how you plan to manage and mitigate safety risks.
When discussing safety specifics, the FAA is looking for the general information that describes your operations. You should identify where you plan to operate at night, how high you plan to fly, the size of your drone, and what type of high visibility lights you are using on the drone.
Lights should be bright white or red, and be visible from at least three miles away.
It should be noted that you will also need to discuss the number of people involved in your UAV night operations. If all you have is a remote pilot in command, your application will probably be denied. Assume you will need at least one pilot and one visual observer for every night flight.
Your concept of operations should discuss the general flow of an actual night flight. Your application needs to cover everything from pre-flight to post-flight procedures.
Here, you will also want to identify the training your pilots and observers have had. Training should include both normal drone operations and specific training on flying drones at night.
The section on safety risk management should include identifying hazards and how you plan to mitigate them. Think of everything that could go wrong, from issues with the drone to human error.
Once the risks are called out, how do you plan to make them less of a risk? Will you have additional observers, more training, or only use drones with safety features like “return to home” functions?
Developing all three of these sections can be challenging. If you do not have an expert on your team, look to consultancy firms to help.
Ready to Apply For Your Night Waiver?
With an average of 90 days for the FAA to determine if your application is acceptable, make the most of your application and seek an expert’s assistance for all your Part 107 waiver needs.
You’ll need to carefully construct a thorough application, which takes time, resources, and extensive knowledge of your use-case. Want to improve your chances? We’re here to help!
At Consortiq, our drone consultant team specializes in creating the right plan for your specific situation. Whether you need to fly at night, over people, or beyond your line of sight, we’ve helped companies around the world obtain specialized waivers in order to achieve their specific goals. We’re ready to help you get your drone safely into the sky.
And, we’ll train your team of pilots to ensure that you’re always within airspace & safety guidelines.
Would you rather just hire a team to go out and do the work for you? We do that, too!
Just complete the form below to get started with your risk-free consultation today!