In this article we will review the different steps a commercial drone pilot must take in order to acquire an FAA Daylight Operation Waiver (107.29 Daylight Waiver). If you are wondering what some of the use cases might be for an FAA Daylight Operation Waiver to fly your sUAS at night, I’ve outlined a few below…
At this point, I’m sure you’re referencing this article to gain insight into obtaining an FAA Daylight Operation Waiver for your current operation - so let’s dive right into it.
Let’s quickly review what the FAA’s Part 107 Rule states for pilots looking to fly during the day, before/after Civil Twilight, and Flying at Night.
To mitigate risk, the FAA’s Part 107 Rule limits sUAS use to daylight and civil twilight with the use of proper anti-collision lights. Remote Pilot’s should not operate their sUAS during the period of civil twilight unless the aircraft has lighted anti-collision lights visible for at least 3 statute miles. So, if you are thinking about operating your drone during the 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise, then you will not need a Daylight Operation waiver to proceed ONLY if you are using anti-collision lights.
When filling out the Waiver Safety Explanation field in the operational waiver application, applicants must 1. Describe their proposed operation, and 2. The Possible Risk Associated With The Operation, As Well As The Methods You Will Use To Mitigate The Risks.
Note: Use the following questions as a guide to address both sets of information. Answers to these questions may be entered into the Waiver Safety Explanation field on the waiver form (5,000 character limit), or submitted as attachments after receiving a waiver tracking number (see Step 4 – Submitting Additional Information).
Important: If hazard identification and risk mitigation strategies are not included in your application, the FAA will be unable to make a complete safety analysis and will disapprove your application based on insufficient information.
Provide a description of your proposed operation without the technical details, but with sufficient information for the FAA to understand it quickly and easily. This is the who, what, when, where, and how of your proposed operation, and is commonly called a Concept of Operations (CONOPS). All questions below relate to the operation(s) to be conducted under your requested waiver.
Provide, to the greatest extent possible, how you propose to address or lessen the possible risks of your proposed operation. This could include using operating limitations, technology, additional training, equipment, personnel, restricted access areas, etc. When reviewing the questions for each section below, the FAA's primary concerns are:
Before we dive into the 5 Specific Guidelines, it’s important for applicants to understand the information needed to make a successful safety case for granting a waiver.
The Part 107 regulation provides a flexible framework for unmanned aircraft operations. Waivers and airspace authorizations are an important part of making the new rule work as intended. Applicants can help speed the process by making sure they make a solid, detailed safety case for any flights not covered under the small drone rule.
Below are a few of the most missed objectives that will result in your application being denied by the FAA during the application process.
IMPORTANT: Make sure that you justify somewhere, that the operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver.
Describe how the Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) will maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) during darkness.
Example Response Ideas: This is where you will want to explain in detail how the Pilot in Command will maintain visual line of sight with the sUAS at all times. Keep in mind, you will be flying at night so it would be beneficial to include that you will be flying with the assistance of anti-collision lights attached to your sUAS. Also, will you be flying with the help of a Visual Observer (VO)? Describe what procedures you have determined to be the most effective when communication with everyone involved in the safety of the mission.
Describe how the RPIC will see and avoid other aircraft, people on the ground, and ground-based structures and obstacles during darkness.
Example Response Ideas: The great thing about this application, is it gives you time to scout the mission site before submitting it. Explain the controlled operating space, and the details of the location that would assist in keeping the mission confined to the point of interest. If the point of interest is located in the center of the site, it would be great to describe the launch area and the conditions surrounding it. Also, describe the actions you will take to ensure you are on the same page with your visual observer that will clarify your attempt to avoid collisions at all cost. You might want to sit down with your Visual Observer during this section of the application to detail the methods used to scan the sky for potential hazards or obstructions.
Describe how the RPIC will be able to continuously know and determine the position, altitude, attitude, and movement of the sUA.
Example Response Ideas: This is a section where you will want to include your unique safety measurements used when your sUAS begins to lose signal, or completely loses signal. If your Visual Observer loses Visual Line of Sight with the aircraft, it would be in your best interest to describe how you will immediately put the sUAS in hover mode until Visual Line of Sight has been restored. It is very helpful to add an additional Visual Observer to the operation incase something unexpected occurs. Emphasize communication between all parties associated with the mission.
What procedures will be followed to ensure all the required persons participating in the operation have the knowledge to recognize and overcome visual illusions caused by darkness and understand physiological conditions which may degrade night vision?
Example Response Ideas: Describe a pre-flight meeting that will discuss the following topics to reduce the risk of Visual Illusions caused by the darkness that may degrade night vision. These concepts can be found in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
Night Vision Illusions
There are many different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night. Anticipating and maintaining awareness of them is usually the best way to avoid them
Describe how the visual conspicuity of the UA will be increased to be seen at a distance of at least 3 statute miles (mi).
Example Response Ideas: You will want to include some information about the type of lights you plan on attaching to your sUAS and confirm that the light will be visible during the operation for up to 3 statute miles. As an added factor to the flight of your sUAS and the success of your mission, you will want to include information regarding the constant update of new anti-collision light technology as it comes on the market and the current condition of your lighting equipment.
The FAA states “... we will strive to review and issue decisions on waiver and authorization requests within 90 days.” Which, is why we urge you to submit your application at least 90 days prior to the mission.
You can fill out the application by logging in to your DroneZone Account: https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/part_107_waivers/
Operation Title: This will be used as a reference to the mission, for example, “Daylight Operation Waiver for Construction Surveying & Inspection”
Responsible Party: This section is to be filled out by the individual responsible for the safety of the mission.
Note: This person does not have to be the Remote Pilot in Command.
Provide a description of your proposed operation without the technical details, but with sufficient information for the FAA to understand it quickly and easily. This is the who, what, when, where, and how of your proposed operation, and is commonly called a Concept of Operations (CONOPS). Make sure you responsive is detailed and consistent with the extent of the mission.
Note: Put the start day anywhere from 30-60 days out from the day of operation.
If you have a registered UAS that does not appear below, click the Add UAS button to provide UAS information relevant to this operation.
Note: You will find the Manufacturer & Model on your sUAS
Review your application details and be sure to double-check the information provided! Once you feel confident with your application, Submit!
You did it! See… that wasn’t so bad. Now all you have to do is wait for the FAA’s Waiver Authorization team to process your request and get back to you with an answer. For more information on the FAA’s Rules & Regulations be sure to check out our community of like-minded drone enthusiasts or visit our Altitude University Resource page!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us directly at [email protected]
Until August 29, 2016 the rules and regulations in the U.S. were mostly unstructured in terms of the legality of flying UAV’s. Since then, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made many strides in making flying drones legal and far safer.
The Altitude University Online Part 107 Course is a test prep course aimed to help drone enthusiasts pass the exam and acquire their FAA Remote Pilot's Certificate (better known as Part 107 License) that will allow you to legally make money flying drones.
The program has been created by Brandon Trentalange who is one of the most popular entrepreneurs in the drone industry. He has over 6+ years of experience flying drones as a professional drone pilot, has consulted top corporations like NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Syngenta, and helped over 2,000+ drone operators start a career in the industry.