FAA Part 107 Waiver (COW)– What Drone Pilots Need to Know (2018)



Are you interested in learning more about the FAA Part 107 waiver?

This article will talk about (1) why FAA Part 107 waivers were created, (2) what regulations can be waived, and (3) what to do when you can’t obtain a waiver regulation.


The FAA understands that not everything will fall neatly into the set of the FAA Part 107 regulations which is why they created the FAA Part 107 waiver. Sometimes things fall outside of the “box,” but still need to be made safe and legal. The FAA builds into the regulations what is called “regulatory flexibility” which can be understood as legal “wiggle room.”


There are multiple ways that regulatory flexibility can happen in the regulations: FAA Part 107 waivers, authorizations, deviations, and exemptions. If the particular regulation you are interested in cannot be resolved by an FAA Part 107 waiver, authorization, or deviation, then the exemption process is all that is left.


The FAA has wisely built into Part 107 a specific section that lists out what regulations can be waived under an FAA Part 107 waiver. An individual applies to the FAA for a certificate of waiver (COW) asking for certain regulations to be waived during the proposed operations. If the FAA believes the applicant has shown the operations are safe enough, the applicant will be given an FAA Part 107 waiver from a particular regulation and the applicant now operates under the certificate of waiver’s restrictions in addition to the regulation waived.


One thing that confuses people is the whole authorization and FAA Part 107 waiver situation. Some regulations are authorizable, such as 107.41, while others are waivable. Keep in mind that a regulation might be both authorizable and waivable just like with 107.41. You might have heard of airspace COAs or airspace COWs which functionally do the same thing and allow you to fly in a place you could not fly before.


The only regulation authorizable in Part 107 is 107.41.  Section 107.205 lists out specifically what regulations are waivable. Below are the waivable regulations and examples of operations that would need this type of FAA Part 107 waiver. If you are interested in any type of operation in either list below, please contact me to help you obtain an FAA Part 107 waiver.


FAA Part 107 Waivers (Sorted by Regulation and Operations that Might Need One)

  • 107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle, boat, or aircraft. Here are operations that will need a waiver from this regulation: 
    • Operating a drone from a moving aircraft.
    • Powerline inspection in populated areas.
    • Pipeline inspection in populated areas.
    • Cinematography or car commercials for TV in populated areas.
  • 107.29 – Daylight only operations. (Article on How to Fly Your Drone at Night or Civil Twilight). Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Search and rescue at night
    • Inspecting roofs using a FLIR camera to spot water damage.
    • Firefighting or law enforcement at night.
  • 107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Beyond visual line of sight operations for mapping, agriculture, search and rescue (but none of these are package delivery of another person’s property.)
    • FPV racing commercially WITHOUT a visual observer.
  • 107.33 – Visual observer.
  • 107.35 – Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • The pilot in command wants to fly two or more drones at the same time.
    • Swarming drones for entertainment like Intel and Disney are interested in.
  • 107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.
  • 107.39 – Operation over people. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • News over crowds
    • Law enforcement monitoring large crowds.
    • Filming concerts or demonstrations.
  • 107.41 – Operation in certain airspace. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Flying in Class B, C, D, or E airspace which is almost always near an airport. Yes, you have to have a COW to operate in these airspaces. I explain this in my FAA Part 107 FAQ page.
  • 107.51 – Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft. Here are operations that will need this waiver:
    • Flying higher than 400ft.
    • Faster than 100MPH
    • Flying in less than 3 statute miles of visibility
    • Flying within 500 ft. below or 2,000 ft. horizontally of clouds.

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Not All Of The Part 107 Regulations Can Be Waived by an FAA Part 107 Waiver.

Here is a list of things that CANNOT be waived under 107:

  • Operations from a moving aircraft, vehicle, or boat while carrying property of another on the drone for compensation or hire.
    • Amazon and Google package delivery
  • Beyond visual line of sight aircraft operations carrying property of another on the drone for compensation or hire.
    • Amazon and Google package delivery
  • 55 pounds and heavier operations
    • Crop dusting with the Yamaha R-Max
    • Closed-set cinematography using large cameras or dual cameras for stereo filming.
  • Carrying hazardous material.
    • Carrying spare LIPO batteries to other operators. LIPOs NOT in the drone are considered hazardous material.
    • Fireworks
    • Crop dusting
  • Autonomous Operations– No Part 107 remote pilot in the loop.


There are other ways of getting operations in the second list legal. Just because you are in this list doesn’t mean that it is “game over.” Time until approval and associated costs with obtaining the approval are the big two concerns with obtaining approvals in the 2nd list. Some of the operations will be eligible and others not for approval under the Section 333 exemption.


The FAA wants you to apply for an FAA Part 107 waiver at least 90 days before you need one.  Don’t count on 90 days for complex operations. Apply well in advance of when you think you will need the FAA Part 107 waiver.


I hope these two lists help you differentiate between when you can operate purely under Part 107 and when you’ll need to seek a FAA Part 107 waiver.


This post is part of an overall Part 107 blog series and you may enjoy a few of these other Part 107 blog posts.

Press Release: Rupprecht Law’s Client Just Received a Part 107 Night Waiver

Part-107-night-waiverImmediate Press Release:

Rupprecht Law, P.A.’s client Red Raptor just picked up a night waiver today. Here is a picture from the first page.  The waiver is good for the entire United States in Class G airspace. It lasts until 2020. The manual used was developed by Airspace Consulting.


Why are night waivers so important?

14 CFR 107.29 requires:

(a) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft system during night.

(b) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft system during periods of civil twilight unless the small unmanned aircraft has lighted anti-collision lighting visible for at least 3 statute miles. The remote pilot in command may reduce the intensity of the anti-collision lighting if he or she determines that, because of operating conditions, it would be in the interest of safety to do so.

(c) For purposes of paragraph (b) of this section, civil twilight refers to the following:

(1) Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins 30 minutes before official sunrise and ends at official sunrise;

(2) Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins at official sunset and ends 30 minutes after official sunset; and

(3) In Alaska, the period of civil twilight as defined in the Air Almanac.

All sorts of jobs need night waivers:

  • Search and rescue at night
  • Inspecting roofs using a FLIR camera to spot water damage
  • Firefighting or law enforcement at night
  • Aerial cinematography
  • Sport or event filming
  • Security
  • Wildlife monitoring/filming


If you are needing help in obtaining a night waiver, please contact Rupprecht Law, P.A. today.

In selecting an aviation attorney to help your company, it is important to look at their background to see if they have any aviation experience. Don’t hire a poser, hire an aviation attorney who is also a commercial pilot. Jonathan is a commercial pilot and current flight instructor, has co-authored an American Bar Association legal treatise on unmanned aircraft law, co-authored a book on UAS flight instructing soon to be published by the ASA, has helped over 100 individuals or companies with drone law, and received a 100% on his Part 107 initial knowledge exam which he took to validate the principles he taught in his FREE Part 107 study guide.

Commercial Drone Law for Film & TV Production

Note: The FAA just recently changed (3/7/2016) some of the language on their exemptions so this presentation is about 95% accurate.

Are you interested in using commercial drones in TV/movie production?  This video is specifically geared to the TV/movie production industry.

You’ll learn:

  • How do people or companies commercially operate drones?
  • Why do I need a Section 333 Exemption?
  • What are some of the restrictions in a Section 333 Exemption?
  • Myths that put production companies at risk.
  • Common myths surrounding the Section 333 exemptions.
  • Things you can NOT do under a Section 333 exemption and your Blanket COA.
  • Curent federal enforcement from the FAA and other agencies as well as state and local law enforcement.
  • Tips on vetting drone companies to making sure they are in complaince with what the FAA says.
  • The FAA’s future proposed commercial drone rules.
  • Operations that will NOT be allowed under the future proposed commercial drone rules.

Aviation Insurance is a must for anyone that hires, leases or operates a drone for commercial use. Contact the HUB International to learn more about how aviation insurance can protect you.


About HUB

As a Top 10 insurance broker in the world, HUB International is a trusted provider of personal, commercial and health insurance services. HUB Entertainment specializes in providing insurance solutions to film, TV & internet production companies, touring artists & bands, concert promoters, live event producers, theatrical productions and video game publishers and developers.  Please visit us at to get a quote for aviation insurance if you are using a drone in your business.


Monthly COA Reporting

COA reports

If you have a 333 with a blanket COA, you have to report your monthly activity even if you did NOT fly. Yes, I know this stinks because I myself have a 333 and have to report each month. The FAA’s COA website says, “The Monthly Operational report is expected to be submitted within 5 business days after end of the reporting month.”

Thankfully, these requirements are not in Part 107 going forward. However, there are NTSB and FAA reporting requirements if your drone happens to crash. Better to read and know them BEFORE you crash so you are not fumbling around if the situation happens.

Do we have a continuing obligation to report once we all switch over to Part 107 and stop using our 333s? Strictly speaking, yes, because the 333 and COA are still valid and the COA requires you to report even when you do not fly. I would continue to do it until the FAA tells you to stop or until the exemption expires 2 years after the grant date. You can find your expiration date by looking at the last page of your exemption.

Filing reports shouldn’t be much trouble if you set up an alert in your schedule or digital calendar to remind you at the end of each month.

SHARE! You should let your friends know about their monthly reporting requirements. Simply click one of the social media or email buttons located above or below to share with your friends.


Reporting Requirements from the Blanket COA

1. Documentation of all operations associated with UAS activities is required regardless of the airspace in which the UAS operates. NOTE: Negative (zero flights) reports are required.
2. The operator must submit the following information through mailto: [email protected] on a monthly basis:

a. Name of Operator, Exemption number and Aircraft registration number
b. UAS type and model.
c. All operating locations, to include location city/name and latitude/longitude
d. Number of flights (per location, per aircraft)
e. Total aircraft operational hours
f. Takeoff or Landing damage
g. Equipment malfunctions. Reportable malfunctions include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) On-board flight control system
(2) Navigation system
(3) Powerplant failure in flight
(4) Fuel system failure
(5) Electrical system failure
(6) Control station failure

3. The number and duration of lost link events (control, performance and health monitoring, or communications) per UA per flight.

FREE Drone Pilot License PDF Study Guide!

  • 100 + pages.
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  • 22 custom sample questions.
  • 6 "cram" pages.
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No, Part 107 Does Not Fix Everything.

The FAA released Part 107 on June 21, 2016.  This post is part of an overall series on Part 107.


Will Part 107 fix all my problems?

Many people mistakenly believe that Part 107 is the answer to all their needs. This is not true as there are certain types of operations that are not covered under Part 107 which leaves individuals, businesses, public agencies to turn to other means of getting the aircraft’s flight authorized such as a waiver, a Section 333 exemption, a Public COA, or a Special Airworthiness Certificate and COA.

Part 107 ALONE does NOT cover:

  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight
    • Power line inspections in those really remote areas
    • SAR
    • Firefighting
  • Night Operations
    • SAR at night.
    • Firefighting at night.
    • Inspections using thermal equipment in hot environments where the best use is in the evenings and night.
    • Cinematography for tv/movie scene at night.
    • Inspections on critical time/sensitive material (example: turbidity monitoring for dredging operations) that need to be monitored 24/7.
    • Sports at night.
  • 55 pounds and heavier
    • Large package delivery
    • Crop dusting
    • Firefighting retardant delivery
    • High-end LIDAR to monitor crops such as lumber. The LIDAR is used to detect the diameter of the wood so the loggers know which forest to harvest first.
    • Cinematography (Dual Red Epics for 3d filming or full Arri Alexa with lens and large stack of batteries for extra flight time.)
  • 400ft and higher, unless you stay within 400ft of the building.
  • 100 mph and faster
    • Survey large areas fast
    • Fast package/medical delivery
  • Operation Over Persons
    • Concerts
    • Live News Events
    • Sports
  • Operations from a moving vehicle over populated areas.


So if you are currently thinking these areas could be potentially beneficial, I would suggest looking into getting approvals for these types of operations because when the competition floods into the market after Part 107 becomes final, these areas will be more profitable. Contact me if you are interested in more information.

As always guys, stay safe and when choosing an attorney, don’t hire a poser – hire a pilot.

FREE Drone Pilot License PDF Study Guide!

  • 100 + pages.
  • 65 practice questions with answers and explanations.
  • 22 custom sample questions.
  • 6 "cram" pages.
Powered by ConvertKit