Refresher Guide 2020: Recreational Drone Rules and Important Information

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic cannot stop the rising popularity of consumer or recreational drones. One factor for the continuing popularity is the growing interest in aerial photography, as one marketing forecast says:

The rising popularity of aerial photography is driving the consumer (recreational) drones’ market. The global consumer drones’ market was valued at about $2.09 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to $4.05 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.0% through 2022. Read the forecast in full here.

If you are flying or buying a recreational drone to start a new hobby, or you have been flying one for quite some time, here is a refresher guide for 2020, which covers the recreational drone rules implemented as of May 2019, and other important information.

First, the most basic requirements you should follow, according to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), are as follows:

  • Register your drone, stamp the registration number on the outside of the drone, and always have proof of registration with you when you fly.
  • Fly only for fun or recreation.
  • Fly your drone at or below 400 feet above the ground in uncontrolled airspace (Class G).
  • Secure an authorization to fly in controlled spaces (Class B, C, D, and E).
  • Fly your drone within your visual line of sight, or within the visual line of sight of a visual observer who is next to you and in direct communication with you.
  • Read more of these rules here.

What about these current recreational drone rules? Read this article by a drone law expert for a history, brief summary, as well as a comparison between the old recreational rules and that which was implemented in 2019. Here’s an excerpt:

On May 17, 2019, the FAA started implementing Section 349 and 350 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. On May 31, 2019, the FAA published Advisory Circular 91-57B which cancelled AC 91-57A and brought everything up-to-date. […]Because of of the changes from the 2018 FAA Reauthorization, Part 101’s Subpart E model aircraft regulations have been superseded. A giant reset button has been pressed for model aircraft flyers laws.

Now, for some interesting drone facts and figures, follow this article here. A few facts the article mentions:

  • At the end of 2019, there were 990,000 recreational operators registered and an estimated 1.32 million recreational drones in the United States (FAA)
  • The number of recreational drones in the US is forecasted to peak at around 1.5 million drones (FAA)
  • As of July 21, 2020, there were 1,662,819 drones registered in the United States by the FAA. 71% of drone registrations (1,181,269) were for recreational purposes, while 27% (477,969) were for commercial operation. The FAA has awarded 184,450 remote pilot certificates. (FAA).
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