Over the course of 2018, the FAA provided to the public a series of webinars called “How to Apply for an Operational Waiver”. Kevin Morris, an Aviation Safety Inspector from the FAA’s Flight Standards Division, led these webinars. Those episodes covered everything from general waiver advice to operating in the Drone Zone to specific episodes on waivers for night flights, flights over people, flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and more. Note: You can watch all of these webinars on YouTube. 

We decided to share what information we learned from the webinars and our own waiver application process. At Kittyhawk we advocate for transparency, education, and continual learning in the drone industry. With that goal in mind, we want to help our community understand the system so that they can operate with more knowledge, strategy, and efficiency. 

To that end, we want to help eliminate some of the confusion and complication involved in submitting a successful waiver application. It was surprising to discover that only 16% of all waiver applications submitted have been approved and 80% of daylight waivers (the most popular and approachable waiver) are denied. These numbers make it clear that the enterprise drone community needs additional guidance on how to submit successful waiver requests.

To fully understand the challenges our enterprise customers encounter in their day-to-day operations, we have been applying for a variety of organizational waivers for Kittyhawk, starting with the 107.29 waiver for night operations. The goal of this blog series is to show what we have learned from this process and how to avoid the common traps that lead to unsuccessful waiver applications. 

Avoiding Naming Confusion – How to Talk About Waivers

One important note is that waivers generally are referred to by the specific section of Part 107 the operator is requesting to deviate from. If you are unfamiliar with the commercial drone rules of Part 107, Part 107 includes many sections that essentially say “You cannot do this type of operation if operating commercially under Part 107.” However, the operator can request that the FAA waive the application of Part 107 to certain parts of their operation. This is why many of the waivers are referred to by either what they allow you to do (e.g. BVLOS waiver, flight over people waiver, etc.) or by what section of Part 107 the FAA is allowing the operator to deviate from.

With this introduction in mind, check out our first post where we take a deep dive into the waiver that will allow you to fly your drone at night under Part 107. This is sometimes confusingly referred to as a “Daylight Waiver” or a “Night Waiver”, but either way, it is a request that the FAA allow you to deviate from the rule in Part 107.29 which generally prohibits commercial operations at night.