14 CFR Part 107 (UAS) – Drone Operators Are Not Pilots

Neil Ludwig

“Owning a drone does not a pilot make” (Morritt, 2017). Why does only answering a few questions give someone the ability to fly through the skies like piloted aircraft? The ability to obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot License could be made more difficult and like manned aircraft have harsher penalties for violations from individuals who are not pilots. A series of events have happened and several recommendations are shown in the attempt to change the way non-pilots have the ability to receive a “pilots” license.

Interviews with professionals agree that the Part 107 license needs to be changed.

There is a growing trend of non-pilot individuals that are able to buy Small Unmanned
Aerial System (sUAS) because the cost is fairly inexpensive, and they can be bought anywhere by anyone. These are basically toys that can cause a vast amount of damage. Because they are so readily available, an individual can open the box and fly it immediately anywhere. Because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) put out a new set of rules that are Federally enforced by 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 107, it says that pilots cannot just go fly these small aircraft anywhere or however wanted.

The word drone makes one think of robots or zombies. An object innocuously doing the
same thing over and over again with no resolute as to why it is doing it that way. Just like a warehouse worker moving from aisle to aisle filling his or her cart with products to be shipped out and his or her only concern is to do it faster so more money can be earned.

Saying an object is a drone or droning on means it is really boring. The word drone just does not sound professional. So the industry has started using acronyms or short phrases to state what these devices actually are, like unmanned aircraft or remote piloting for “pilots.” The word drone has become synonymous with death and destruction in foreign lands and in the USA with war, causing those that fly for agriculture or film to get a bad reputation. These are not drones blowing the enemy up, but they are pilots and vehicles doing a job to earn a living.

What does it mean to be a pilot. To the author, it means to be in control of a machine that moves through the air much like a car moves on the ground. To be a safe pilot, pilots must know as much information as he or she possibly can about the weather, airspaces, the aircraft, and the aerodynamic forces that are affecting him or her the entire time in the air. As a sUAS pilot, pilots still must know all of this because of operating in that same airspace as manned aircraft, as well as other unmanned aircraft, and do not want to cause an accident or possibly kill someone.

This study investigates the need to change and update Part 107, by mandating non-pilot sUAS operators have the same knowledge base as manned pilots. When stating manned aircraft, it means that a person is in the aircraft flying the machine. Unmanned means no human is in the aircraft operating it.

A pilot is one that flies an airplane or helicopter and is licensed to do so. A non-pilot is someone that is not a pilot but can be licensed to fly sUAS

It is important because these operators are in the same airspace or National Airspace System (NAS) as other aircraft that have a 180-degree field of view compared to a tiny screen to look at. It has already been shown in the news that many people fly these aircraft where they should not and get into trouble, which damages other licensed remote pilots who are doing it the right way (See the Literature Review for examples).

One day a catastrophe may happen, and this study is to discuss some possible solutions to change the Part 107 process that may help to keep the general public safe and everyone else involved around the world. Individuals who buy these sUAS aircraft need to be educated on operating them properly.

Read Neil’s paper in full AS480 Research Paper