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  • Writer's pictureTyesha Ferron

What Is a Part 107 Waiver and How Can I Get One?

Photo Credit: Wix Stock Library

A lot of responsibility goes into owning and piloting a drone. One of the most important responsibilities is making sure you know where you stand with the FAA. If you’re a commercial pilot, then you should already know about Part 107 Remote Pilot certification. Certification through Part 107 allows you to fly your drone commercially, but it also comes with certain restrictions. However, select restrictions can be waived with a Part 107 operational waiver. Here's what you need to know about Part 107 waivers and how to request one.

"Waiver" - an official document issued by the FAA approves certain operations of aircraft outside the limitations of a regulation (as defined by the FAA). The FAA provides waivers to exempt pilots from specific restrictions under Part 107, so the first step in obtaining a waiver from the FAA is determine what you need the waiver for. It's imperative that you only request a waiver that’s necessary for your flight mission and demonstrate that you can still fly safely using alternative methods. Here is a list of waivable operations from the FAA website:

Photo Credit: Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA also clarifies certain terms in section 107.39 under Part 107:

§ 107.39 Operations Over Human Beings.

No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft over a human being unless that human being is:

(a) Directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft; or

(b) Located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft.

The FAA defines “over human beings” as the flight of the unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person (e.g. a small UAS that hovers directly over a person's head, shoulders, or extended arms or legs for any amount of time). The FAA defines a human being that is “directly participating” as personnel that the remote pilot in command has deemed to be involved with the flight operation of the small unmanned aircraft. This includes the remote pilot in command, anyone manipulating the controls of the small UAS if other than the remote pilot in command, and the visual observer. it also includes any person who is necessary for the safety of the small UAS flight operation (e.g. a person who stands aside to maintain a perimeter to ensure that other people do not enter the area of operation).

Photo Credit: Federal Aviation Administration

The second step in requesting a Part 107 waiver is applying through the FAA’s DroneZone, their website dedicated to drone forms. Keep in mind that you do not need to register a drone to request a waiver. Either create a DroneZone account or log into your existing account. After logging in, select “Fly A Small Unmanned Aircraft System Under Part 107”. You’ll be prompted to input information for your drone but keep clicking “Next”. Clicking “Next” will allow you to bypass the payment forms and submit your application with all supporting documents and attachments. Make sure you select the "Operational Waiver" option.

Finally, the FAA will do their best to review your waiver request and approve or disapprove it within 90 days of submission. If more information is needed, requests for more information will be sent to you via DroneZone. Unanswered requests can result in the cancellation of your application, and you’ll have to resubmit it. All operational drone waivers that are issued are published publicly.

More resources to help with the application process are also available, provided on the FAA's web page for Part 107 waivers.


I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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