• Tom

DRONING ON AND ON…


DRONING ON AND ON…

DEFINITIONS:

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or “drone” is defined as an aircraft without any human pilot, crew or passengers on board. UAVs or Drones may also be referred to as “unmanned aircraft system” (UAS)” or “unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVS).”

FEDERAL VS STATE LAWS

Federal airspace laws (FAA Regulations) take precedence over state drone laws. If a state or local law directly conflicts with FAA regulations, the state or local law is likely to be invalidated. Make sure you are familiar and in compliance with all local, state and federal laws when flying in Oregon.

FEDERAL DRONE LAWS IN OREGON

Drone operation in the State of Oregon is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. In addition, the Oregon legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Oregon drone operation. Specifically, Chapter 738 on the Oregon Department of Aviation website. Make sure you are familiar with the latest FAA guidelines before you fly drones in Oregon as a recreational or commercial pilot.

There are no federal laws against flying a drone over private property as the FAA only regulates airspace above 400 feet. However, some areas have passed local or state laws to prohibit drones over private properties. Before flying a drone over a residence, pilots should check local laws and regulations.

OREGON DRONE REGULATIONS

Drones can be dangerous. Accordingly, in Oregon, both state and federal laws regulate their operation. Violation of these rules, knowingly or unknowingly, can be subject to arrest, fines and even imprisonment. It is your responsibility to make sure you are up to date with local, state, and federal aviation laws and guidelines.

OREGON STATE PRE-FLIGHT PLANNING

Pre-Flight planning is the responsibility of all drone pilots in Oregon. It’s vital to know of any state of Oregon and Local laws or policies in advance. Consider using these apps to plan your routes:

  • B4UFLY (FAA’s app)

  • Kittyhawk

  • Litchi

These apps can provide you with the latest Oregon airspace information, legal flight zones and any temporary flight restrictions in the area.

To operate a drone as a commercial pilot in the state of Oregon (i.e. for work or business purposes) you are required to follow the requirements of the FAA’s Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule (Part 107). Part 107 includes passing the initial aeronautical knowledge test: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)" to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.

OREGON LICENSING

Flying a drone in Oregon for commercial use requires a license. Under Part 107, you must have a license when flying a drone for commercial/work purposes. However, as a recreational pilot, you do not need a license. Keep in mind, a commercial operator can still fly for recreation, but recreational pilots may not conduct commercial drone flights.

CERTIFIED RECREATIONAL PILOTS

To become a certified recreational pilot in Oregon, you must be at least 16 years old, and you are required to take an educational course on drones and pass the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) to receive your Certificate of Completion. On top of passing the test, you are also required to follow the FAA’s recreational model aircraft rules. The course and the test can be done online, and neither is very overly difficult or time-consuming.

One rule to highlight is if your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs/250g (This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera), you’ll need to pay $5 to get it registered (and renew it every 3 years). Additional rules regarding airspace and altitude, keeping your drone in sight while flying, and specific operating instructions are also included in this section.


While there is no age requirement to fly a drone recreationally (uncertified), to own/register a drone in Oregon you must be at least 13 years old.

COMMERCIAL LICENSE

Flying a commercial drone without a license is illegal. Violations of this law can result in a fine of up to $250,000 (plus civil fines of up to $32,666 per incident) and a prison sentence of up to three years. Please make sure you are aware of all laws and regulations before flying for any purpose.

COMMERCIAL USERS

To fly your drone under the FAA's Small UAS Rule (Part 107), you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate demonstrates that you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones. In order to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old

  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English

  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a drone

  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)"

  1. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile prior to registering for a knowledge test.

  2. Schedule an appointment with an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center. Be sure to bring a government-issued photo ID to your test.

  3. Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test: "Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)"

  4. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)

  5. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.

  6. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

  7. Have your Remote Pilot Certificate available whenever you fly your UAS.


All information can be found on the FAA’s website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/become_a_drone_pilot/


COMMON REGULATIONS, INFRACTIONS AND PENALTIES

Below are some of the most common ways drone operators violate state or federal criminal statutes while operating a drone.

REGISTRATION

Failure to register your drone when registration is required (over 0.55 lbs/250g) or failure to renew the registration (every 3 years) can lead to up to $250,000 in fines and three years of imprisonment, plus civil penalties of up to $27,500 per incident.

DRONE SAFETY MEASURES

Violation of safety rules found in FAA Part 107, such as flying recklessly (with or without intent to cause an accident), flying over restricted airspace (or violating local air traffic laws/regulations), or flying without a line of sight, can be charged and fined.

Flying over restricted airspace can lead to a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to 3 years. Violation of other federal and state laws can lead to a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 3 years of imprisonment. You can be charged for multiple offenses for a single flight.

UNWANTED DRONE SURVEILLANCE

Oregon state law prohibits using a drone to perform unwanted surveillance. Violations of this law include flying over private property multiple times (after being asked not to by the owner of said property) or to spy on the business operations of a competitor. Using a drone to infringe on another’s reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. “Peeping”) is also prohibited.

If caught using your drone for unwanted surveillance, fines of up to $32,666 may be imposed for each violation (even within the same flight) and potential imprisonment.

OTHER LAWS

Use of a drone to violate laws not specifically designed for drones (e.g., intentionally violating traffic laws/causing car accidents or violating someone’s privacy) you could face several different charges ranging from local to federal charges, as well. The most severe violations could potentially result in imprisonment for decades and fines in the hundreds of thousands.

Thus far, both state and federal authorities have been lax in their enforcement of drone regulations against individuals. However, this is very likely to change soon with the federal government creating and enforcing new laws and imposing large civil penalties against companies and drone pilots that violate drone laws.


To avoid penalties and imprisonment, it is important that you are aware and in compliance with basic drone laws and regulations (Local, State and Federal). Do note, drone laws are changing constantly and quickly, and that federal laws will always prevail over contrary state laws. Please check the FAA’s and local websites (or apps) regularly for any updates.

REGISTERING IN OREGON

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) owners follow strict regulations and laws. You will need to file your name, home/physical address, email address, phone number, make/model of your drone, Specific Remote ID serial number (provided by the manufacturer), and credit/debit.


Part 107 registration costs $5/drone and is valid for three (3) years. The “Exception for Recreational Flyers” registration costs $5/drone and is valid for three (3) years.

Once you register your drone, you will receive an FAA registration certificate. You must have your registration certificate (either a paper copy or digital copy) in your possession when you fly.

All aircraft that weigh more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams, must be registered. This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera.

The FAA requires that you mark all drones with your registration number in a legible fashion before you fly them. You must also show your registration to any state or local law enforcement official upon request, either in digital or print form. You must be at least 16 years old to register. If your drone is new, you must register it before its first flight.

STANDARD RULES OF DRONE OPERATION

The FAA has enacted general rules governing the operations of drones. The following is a small, incomplete list of restrictions:

  • You cannot fly over restricted airspace (military bases, airports, etc.). The FAA has created an app (B4UFLY) that you can use to help you determine where drones are permitted and other laws.

  • You cannot fly higher than 400 feet above the ground.

  • May not operate from a moving vehicle (land or water) or aircraft.

  • You must keep your drone in eyesight during the entire flight.

  • The speed limit for a drone is 100mph.

  • You cannot fly unless your visibility is at least three statute miles.

  • You must yield the right of way to other aircraft.

  • You cannot fly more than a single (1) drone at a time.

  • You cannot fly over people or moving vehicles.

For complete information, please refer to the FAA’s website.

VIOLATING OREGON LAWS OF GENERAL APPLICATION

If you wondered, “Can I be arrested for flying a drone in Oregon?” The simple answer is “yes.” However, any arrest over drone usage in Oregon is likely to stem from an offense not directly related to drones. Some examples of these offenses are:

  • Interfering with the operation of an aircraft (potentially a federal crime). This law is not necessarily aimed at drones, since using a laser pointer can result in the same charge.

  • Flying your drone low over a highway. Any fatalities resulting from collision stemming from this may be charged as negligent homicide.

  • Using a drone as an accomplice or “lookout” to assist in a crime such as robbery or drug trafficking.

  • Using a drone to assault or batter someone.

There are countless ways drones can be used to break the law or commit crimes. Please be responsible when operating your drone.

STATE OF OREGON DRONE LAWS

Per the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Legislative Assembly the State of Oregon has enacted four (4) state-wide laws concerning the use of drones in the State:


HB 3047 // 2017: Involves weaponizing drones, law enforcement usage, and private property

HB 4066 // 2016: Involves weaponizing drones and drone use near critical infrastructure

HB 5702 // 2016: Involves registration fees for drones

HB 2710 // 2013: Involves law enforcement uses and penalties for registration and usage.

All drone pilots operating commercially in the state of Oregon are subject to the FAA’s Part 107 rules. To learn more about and obtain a commercial drone license in the State of Oregon learn more about the FAA’s certification process here.


At the end of the day, the UAS/drone industry is evolving quickly, and local governments are responding as such. Drone regulations in Oregon can and do change throughout the year and should be tracked accordingly to ensure your own and other’s safety.

WHERE CAN YOU FLY A DRONE?

The FAA has general rules and regulations in place for flying drones anywhere in the U.S.:

  • Drones must fly below 400 feet above the ground.

  • Drones cannot fly over moving vehicles.

  • Your drone must always be in your line of sight.

  • You may not fly your drone at night or when you cannot see three (3) statute miles.

LOCAL DRONE LAWS IN OREGON

These are drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of Oregon, and were created by various authorities within the state. Please contact your local authorities to learn more.

Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel. Please check local, state, and federal ordinances before flying your drone.


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