Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)/Drones

As of February 19, 2016, owners of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), commonly referred to as drones, must register them with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before operating them in the National Airspace System. Previously, there was an exception to this requirement for operations that fell under the guidelines of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, section 336; however, H.R. 2810 section 1092 (signed into law December 12, 2017) requires ALL sUAS to be registered with the FAA.

The cost to register your aircraft is $5, and registration is valid for 5 years. To register your aircraft, visit the FAA UAS Registration website.

As of August 29, 2016, all commercial operators of sUAS must follow all rules set forth by the FAA in 14 C.F.R. Part 107. These regulations put rules in place that govern all aspects of commercial sUAS operations, including operating rules, pilot certification, and the requirement to obtain waivers for certain operations.

There are currently no additional requirements by the state of Tennessee to operate a sUAS within the boundaries of the state; however, TDOT would like to remind owners and operators to fly sUAS safely and follow the basic guidelines provided below, whether operating commercially or recreationally.

  • Always fly below 400 feet above ground level (AGL).
  • Always keep the aircraft in visual line of sight (VLOS), unless you have a waiver.
  • Always give way to manned aircraft.
  • Know the airspace you are flying in and any FAA restrictions that pertain to it..
  • Do not fly in controlled airspace (B,C,D or E) without FAA ATC approval.
  • Do not fly over people or large crowds of people without a waiver.
  • Do not fly at night without a waiver.
  • Never fly a sUAS while impaired.

If you feel someone is operating a sUAS in an unsafe or illegal manner, please notify your local law enforcement.      

For more UAS information and resources, please visit www.faa.gov/uas.