What Are the FAA Requirements for Farmers Operating a Drone?

What Are the FAA Requirements for Farmers Operating a Drone?

We already know that drones offer numerous benefits, such as enhanced crop monitoring, precise pesticide application, and efficient land surveying. However, putting them to use is not as easy as buying one and implementing it into your farming operations.

To ensure the safe and responsible use of drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established specific requirements that all farmers must follow. This guide will demystify the FAA requirements for drone operation, providing farmers with the essential information needed to get the right licensing and start integrating these machines into their operations.

Remote Pilot Certificate

To legally operate a drone for agricultural purposes, farmers must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Applicants are required to pass the FAA's Aeronautical Knowledge Test, which covers crucial topics such as airspace classification, weather effects on drones, and emergency procedures.

The good news is that preparatory resources for this test are widely available in the form of study guides, online courses, and FAA-provided materials. Once you pass the test, you can apply for the certificate through the FAA's Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system.

Drone Registration

Farmers must register their drones through the FAA's online registration system, which requires details such as the drone's make, model, and serial number. Additionally, the owner must provide personal identification information.

Once you register your drone, you'll receive a unique registration number assigned to it, which you must visibly mark on the aircraft. However, each registration is only valid for three years.

Remote ID and Registrations

Simply put, remote IDs enhance airspace awareness and security by enabling the identification and tracking of drones in real time. This means equipping your drones with approved remote ID technology, which broadcasts crucial information, including the drone's location, altitude, and its operator's control station location. This system allows regulatory authorities and other airspace users to identify and assess the drone's flight parameters, ensuring safer and more coordinated use of the skies.

FAA Part 137

FAA Part 137 pertains specifically to the agricultural use of aircraft, including drones, for various activities, such as spraying and seeding. To legally operate a drone under Part 137, you must obtain an Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate. You'll have to submit an application to the FAA that details your operations, outlining the intended use of the drone, the types of chemicals or substances you'll apply, and the operational area. Additionally, you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re compliant with stringent safety protocols, including proper handling and storage of materials, as well as measures to prevent environmental contamination.

Once the FAA reviews and approves your application, they may conduct an on-site inspection to ensure you have met all safety and operational standards. Then, they’ll grant successful applicants the Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate, which enables them to legally perform aerial agricultural activities with drones.

Now that you know the FAA requirements for drone operation, it’s time to start seriously considering what model best suits your farm’s needs. If you’re looking for a portable, durable drone with an extended flight time, the DJI Mavic 3 thermal is your solution.

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