Section 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules. (2018)


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Section 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

(a) Each small unmanned aircraft must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the small unmanned aircraft must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(b) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.

My Commentary on Section 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

You should study 107.37 in relationship with 107.43 and 107.23 because all three govern your actions when flying near airplanes and airports.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

Unless the flight is conducted within controlled airspace, no notification or authorization is necessary to operate at or near an airport. When operating in the vicinity of an airport, the remote PIC must be aware of all traffic patterns and approach corridors to runways and landing areas. The remote PIC must avoid operating anywhere that the presence of the sUAS may interfere with operations at the airport, such as approach corridors, taxiways, runways, or helipads. Furthermore, the remote PIC must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, including aircraft operating on the surface of the airport.

Remote PICs are prohibited from operating their small UA in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at airports, heliports, and seaplane bases. While a small UA must always yield right-of-way to a manned aircraft, a manned aircraft may alter its flightpath, delay its landing, or take off in order to avoid an sUAS that may present a potential conflict or otherwise affect the safe outcome of the flight. For example, a UA hovering 200 feet above a runway may cause a manned aircraft holding short of the runway to delay takeoff, or a manned aircraft on the downwind leg of the pattern to delay landing. While the UA in this scenario would not pose an immediate traffic conflict to the aircraft on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern or to the aircraft intending to take off, nor would it violate the right-of-way provision of § 107.37(a), the small UA would have interfered with the operations of the traffic pattern at an airport.

In order to avoid interfering with operations in a traffic pattern, remote PICs should avoid operating in the traffic pattern or published approach corridors used by manned aircraft. When operational necessity requires the remote PIC to operate at an airport in uncontrolled airspace, the remote PIC should operate the small UA in such a way that the manned aircraft pilot does not need to alter his or her flightpath in the traffic pattern or on a published instrument approach in order to avoid a potential collision. Because remote PICs have an obligation to yield right-of-way to all other aircraft and avoid interfering in traffic pattern operations, the FAA expects that most remote PICs will avoid operating in the vicinity of airports because their aircraft generally do not require airport infrastructure, and the concentration of other aircraft increases in the vicinity of airports.

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

Instead of imposing a specific right-of-way requirement on conflicts between two small unmanned aircraft, this rule will require the remote pilot in command to use his or her best judgment to avoid other small unmanned aircraft in the NAS. Specifically, under § 107.37(b), each remote pilot in command will have to take whatever maneuvers are necessary to ensure that his or her small unmanned aircraft is not flying so close to other unmanned aircraft as to create a collision hazard.

……..

While a small unmanned aircraft must always yield right of way to a manned aircraft, a manned aircraft may alter its flight path or delay its landing or take off in order to avoid a small UAS that may present a potential conflict or otherwise affect the safe outcome of the flight. For example, an unmanned aircraft hovering 200 feet above a runway may cause a manned aircraft holding short of the runway to delay take off, or a manned aircraft on the downwind leg of the pattern to delay landing. While the unmanned aircraft in this scenario would not pose an immediate traffic conflict to the aircraft on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern or to the aircraft intending to takeoff, nor would it violate the right-of-way provision of § 107.37(a), the small unmanned aircraft would have interfered with operations and traffic patterns at an airport.

 

In order to avoid interfering with operations in a traffic pattern, remote pilots should avoid operating in the traffic pattern or published approach corridors used by manned aircraft. When operational necessity requires the remote pilot to operate at an airport in uncontrolled airspace, the remote pilot should operate the small unmanned aircraft in such a way that the manned-aircraft pilot does not need to alter his or her flight path in the traffic pattern or on a published instrument approach in order to avoid a potential collision. Because remote pilots have an obligation to yield right of way to all other aircraft and avoid interfering in traffic pattern operations, the FAA expects that most remote pilots will avoid operating in the vicinity of airports because their aircraft generally do not require airport infrastructure, and the concentration of other aircraft increases in the vicinity of airports

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.