FAA 333 Exemption and its Effect on Cincinnati Aerial Services

Cincinnati Flight Coordination Map

The FAA requires anybody in the United States that is providing aerial services via drone (UAV) to operate under what it calls a 333 exemption. What this means is that it is treating drones like aircraft and require anyone operating them commercially to do so within a specific set of rules. LostPeak Media has a 333 exemption and is legally compliant for all aerial services. With that said, let’s take a look at the requirements under an FAA 333 exemption.

The FAA currently requires all drone operations (commercial and hobbyists) to take place in visual line of sight of the pilot. This basically means that the drone cannot physically fly anywhere that the pilot cannot see it with their own eyes. In addition to this, an 333 exemption also requires commercial drone operators to abide by the following rules:

  • Pilot of the drone must hold a current pilot’s license
  • Drone flights must take place within the line of sight of both a pilot and a second person (the visual observer)
  • Drone flights are not to exceed 100 mph
  • All drones must weigh less than 55 pounds  (this requirement can be exceeded with prior authorization)
  • Drone flights cannot exceed 200 feet above ground level without prior authorization
  • Drone flights cannot exceed 400 feet above ground level at any point
  • Drone flights cannot be within 5 nautical miles of a tower controlled airport without prior authorization (similar rules exist for smaller, uncontrolled airports)
  • Pilot must follow all visual flight rules as though flying in a typical aircraft
  • Pilot must be aware of and abide by any temporary flight restrictions, restricted airspace, etc.
  • Drone flights must take place during daylight hours
  • Drone must have a GPS enabled return-to-home feature in the event of a lost GPS signal
  • Commercial drones must be registered similar to a typical aircraft and are issued a tail number (Yes, our drones actually have a physical tail number on them. Yes, it’s pretty sweet.)
  • Pilot must conduct a pre-flight inspection of the drone
  • Drone flights for closed-set movie or television filming require additional authorization

What does the FAA 333 exemption mean for someone hiring an aerial services company in Cincinnati?

First, its important to note that these rules are in place to help keep everyone in the air and on the ground safe, so it’s important to hire someone that has a 333 exemption and follows the rules outlined above. Did I mention that LostPeak holds a 333 exemption? Seriously though, no matter who you are working with, it is important that the aerial service provider you choose holds a 333 exemption.

In Cincinnati, we typically have to consider these rules in a couple of situations.

  • The property where a client would like to shoot is within five nautical miles of either Cincinnati international airport (CVG) or Lunken airport (LUK). In this case we are required to notify the airport manager a few days before our flight time and get a written letter from them agreeing to our flight.
  • Reds/Bengals games trigger what the FAA calls a Temporary Flight Restriction (TRF) and we are unable to fly at all within several miles of the Reds/Bengals stadium. This basically blocks out all of downtown and the surrounding areas for any drone flights. The good news is that these TFRs only last a few hours.

As one of the only aerial services companies with an FAA 333 Exemption that also uses some of the most advanced drone technology, we would love to work with your company to provide stellar aerial photography, video or mapping services. Please get in touch with us on our contact page or call to speak with us.