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Asked and Answered: Obtaining an FAA exemption

Asked and Answered: Obtaining an FAA exemption

I am thinking about obtaining my exemption from the FAA. What are my
options, and what should I look out for?
Answer: Ever since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the first exemptions to six aerial cinematography production companies, many people began asking, “How do I get my exemption?” While the FAA has provided a general outline of the requirements to obtain a Section 333 exemption, the process requires knowledge of the Federal Aviation Regulations and commercial aviation operations.

With the opening of the National Airspace System (NAS) to commercial operators, many people claim to have the expertise needed to help others obtain their exemption, but do they have the legal expertise and operational experience required to help your company obtain an exemption? These are important questions that you should ask people before hiring them to assist you in filing a petition for exemption. You should also be aware that it is a complex procedure, and once you are granted approval from the FAA, there are many requirements to meet before being able to operate commercially.

Operating manuals have been developed to support the petition for exemption, and they become a legal record of the maintenance and repair records for your unmanned aircraft. Most people don’t understand that, once you receive your exemption from the FAA, you are  categorized as an “operator.” Being an operator carries a lot of responsibility as you are granted authority to commercially fly in the NAS. Keeping your maintenance manuals and logbooks current and complete is critically important, especially in the event of an incident or accident. The lack of professional documentation could be detrimental to your business.

Anyone considering entering the commercial UAS (unmanned aircraft system) industry will benefit from consulting with attorneys and consultants who have extensive aviation experience. Aviation professionals understand the importance of creating these documents and handling situations should they occur.

When interviewing attorneys and consultants with whom your company is considering hiring, ask them how many petitions they have helped their clients receive. A good attorney will review your proposed operations to see if they comply with the Section 333 restrictions. A good consultant will create the necessary operating manuals and logbooks to keep you in compliance with the FAA’s conditions and limitations for exempt companies.

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