Students Flying Drones No Longer Need Section 333 Exemption

The FAA has changed its tune on students flying drones for educational purposes. FAA administrator Michael Huerta said schools and students will soon no longer need a Section 333 exemption or any other authorization prior to flying drones as part of their coursework.

Photo Caption: Third-graders at Liberty Elementary learn about drones by watching a DJI Phantom 2 drone fly around their school. (Photo Credit: Tom Stromme/Bismarck Tribune)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has changed its tune on students flying drones for educational purposes. Speaking at the annual AUVSI conference in New Orleans, FAA administrator Michael Huerta said schools and students will soon no longer need a Section 333 exemption or any other authorization prior to flying drones as part of their coursework.

However, students flying drones must comply with all other lawful drones operations of Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), including not receiving any form compensation for flying the drone.

Read the FAA’s full memorandum here (PDF).

The FAA is also allowing faculty to join in on the fun, but there’s caveats there, too, including no compensation for flying: “However, a faculty member engaging in the operation of an unmanned aircraft, as part of professional duties for which he or she is paid, would not be engaging in a hobby or recreational activity. Rather, the faculty member is being compensated for his or her teaching or research activity, including any UAS operation arising from or related to the faculty member’s teaching a course or conducting research.”

“Schools and universities are incubators for tomorrow’s great ideas, and we think this is going to be a significant shot in the arm for innovation,” Huerta said.

Here’s more gibberish from the FAA trying to set some parameters for how much involvement faculty can have.

“Nevertheless, faculty teaching a course or curricula that uses unmanned aircraft as a component of that course may provide limited assistance to students operating unmanned aircraft as part of that course without changing the character of the student’s operation as a hobby or recreational activity or requiring FAA authorization for the faculty member to operate.”

Phew.

“The FAA also says that de minimis limited instructor participation in student operation of UAS as part of coursework does not rise to the level of faculty conducting an operation outside of the hobby or recreation construct.”

I’m sure some schools and faculty have been using drones all along, but at least soon they won’t have to constantly look over their shoulders.




About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.




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Robot Fun · Drones · News · All Topics


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