On this page we provide the FAA rulings that relate to drones and boats.

FAA Decision June 21 2016

The June 2016 600+ page ruling contains the FAA's guidance on operating under Part 107.

Flights over people starts on page 247 and on page 277, FAA clearly states the flying over people at an angle is acceptable.

“In response, the FAA clarifies that this rule allows filming of non-participants at an angle as long as the small unmanned aircraft does not fly over those non-participants.

On the same page 277, FAA discusses Sparsely Populated

“With regard to sparsely populated areas, as discussed earlier, the restriction on flight over people is focused on protecting the person standing under the small unmanned aircraft, which may occur in a sparsely populated area. The FAA notes, however, that because sparsely populated areas have significantly fewer people whose presence may restrict a small UAS operation, a newsgathering organization will likely have significant flexibility to conduct small UAS operations in those areas.”

Page 135 “this rule has been changed from the NPRM to allow: (1) the flight of a small unmanned aircraft over a sparsely populated area from a moving vehicle; 

Page 211 “This rule will, however, allow operation of a small UAS from a moving land-based or water-borne vehicle if the small unmanned aircraft is flown over a sparsely populated area. The prohibition against operating a small UAS from an aircraft and the limitations on operations from moving vehicles will be waivable as long as the small unmanned aircraft is not transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire.”

FAA Federal Preemption

In this ruling the FAA provides guidance on state and local rules relating to drones.

State and Local Governments CANNOT create rules related to:

Operational UAS restrictions on flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; any regulation of the navigable airspace. For example – a city ordinance banning anyone from operating UAS within the city limits, within the airspace of the city, or within certain distances of landmarks. Federal courts strictly scrutinize state and local regulation of overflight. City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, 411 U.S. 624 (1973); Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2002); American Airlines v. Town of Hempstead, 398 F.2d 369 (2d Cir. 1968); American Airlines v. City of Audubon Park, 407 F.2d 1306 (6th Cir. 1969).

Mandating equipment or training for UAS related to aviation safety such as geo-fencing would likely be preempted. Courts have found that state regulation pertaining to mandatory training and equipment requirements related to aviation safety is not consistent with the federal regulatory framework. Med-Trans Corp. v. Benton, 581 F. Supp. 2d 721, 740 (E.D.N.C. 2008); Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. Robinson, 486 F. Supp. 2d 713, 722 (M.D. Tenn. 2007).

State and Local Governments CAN create rules:

Laws traditionally related to state and local police power – including land use, zoning, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement operations – generally are not subject to federal regulation. Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109, 1115 (9th Cir. 2002). Examples include:

Requirement for police to obtain a warrant prior to using a UAS for surveillance.

Specifying that UAS may not be used for voyeurism.

Prohibitions on using UAS for hunting or fishing, or to interfere with or harass an individual who is hunting or fishing.

Prohibitions on attaching firearms or similar weapons to UAS.