Category Archives: 14 cfr part 47

Beginner’s Guide to Legal Drone Operations

We have been working hard daily since launching our drone law practice group in January 2014 (its our Two Year Anniversary!) and it is easy to forget how hard it is to figure out the basics when just getting started.

Here is the beginner’s guide to getting legal in the drone world. it is just general information and not legal advice, but we think it is a good start to figuring out where to go when you are at the starting line.

Legally Flying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the United States

(Beginner’s Guide)

  1. What drone(s) will you be operating?
  • Rotorcraft offer much versatility and can carry heavy payloads.
  • Fixed wing aircraft can be used for surveying projects over large areas of land.
  1. Which FAA pathway applies to you?
Section 333 Public Certificate of Authorization
·       Available to individuals, private organizations, and some government entities

·       Anticipated 120 day turnaround time from FAA

·       Applicants can fly nationwide, 5 miles from an airport

·       Person operating the drone must have FAA pilot license (“PIC”)

·       Available to public agencies conducting governmental functions

·       Anticipated 60 day turnaround from FAA

·       PIC may not need a pilot’s license

  1. Register your drone(s) with the FAA.

Commercially operated drones must have an N-Number (tail number). This is NOT (yet) the online web version for hobbyists that has been in the news. That would be easy.

  1. Once you’re approved under Section 333 by the FAA, think about applying for non-standard COAs or amendments.
    • Will you be operating drones that you haven’t been approved on?
    • Will you need to operate higher than 200 feet above ground level, or within 5 miles of an airport?
    • Will you need to operate at night?
  1. Insure your drones and your operation.
  • Look at commercial, UAV-specific insurance. Discuss what you are looking to do with your broker.
  • Consider looking into both liability and hull
  • You could lose your commercial insurance by failing to follow the terms of your 333 approval!
  1. Get it in writing!

Contracts protect you, your clients, and your employees. Consider having a standard service contract prepared in advance of being contacted for jobs. Entering into discussions with a prospective partner? Think about asking him or her to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect your company information.

  1. Protect your intellectual property.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as photographs and videos.
  • Trademarks protect the identity of your brand.

Further information and knowledgeable, passionate attorneys can be found by calling us at 312-201-8310 or filling out the form below.

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FAA Announces Mandatory Drone Registration – Including Hobbyists

Today the FAA announced “a web-based aircraft registration process for the registration of small unmanned aircraft, including small unmanned aircraft operated as model aircraft, to facilitate compliance with the statutory requirement that all aircraft register prior to operation.”

The procedural status of this rule is an “interim rule” which means you can still make official comments to oppose or support this measure (see below).

We previously stated our belief that imposing this rule on hobbyists is likely to be challenged as illegal under the 2012 FMRA.  A better idea may have been to require registration only to those drones and rc aircraft with autopilot functionality and/or First-Person-View (FPV) ability.

After today, the question is: Do you feel regulated? The Administrator indicated that enforcement of this registration requirement may be local law enforcement.

Section 336 of the FMRA is the “stone in my shoe.” While I listen to the FAA’s explanation of why they have the authority to force model aircraft registration I keep coming back to Section 336 which says:

.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law
relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into
Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this
subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model
aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft


Hobbyists are being compelled under force of law to register with large monetary and possible criminal penalties for failure to register.  If the requirement for registering model aircraft has been “required” for decades and thus not part of the prohibition of regulating model aircraft  under Section 336, why wasn’t it done before? This feels like intellectual gymnastics.   If the need to register is a public safety reason, FAA ought to ask Congress for the authority to impose registration on model aircraft.

The FAA states “If you own a drone, you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2016 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register.”

“Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.”

The FAA’s FAQ can be found here.


Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-7396 using any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT),1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC20590-0001.
Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

The full interim rule may be viewed here.

FAA Announces Impending Rule: All Drones And Model Aircraft to be Registered

FAA Announces Impending Rule: All Drones And Model Aircraft to be Registered
Today, the FAA announced that it intends to create a rule effective mid-December 2015 requiring model aircraft and small “drones” to be registered with the agency. Drones are included in the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ which means an unmanned aircraft that is flown within line of sight and for hobby or recreational purposes.

When the Congress gave FAA’s its marching orders in the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act it stated in Section 336 that ” the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft” if it was used for hobby or recreational use. But that is exactly what the FAA seems to have announced today that it would be doing – imposing a regulatory requirement on the operators of model aircraft used for hobby or recreational use by requiring them to be registered.

Therefore, any plan to require registration of model aircraft must foresee congressional support in the form of emergency legislation to be implemented prior to the imposition of this new rule.

If there is no emergency legislation from Congress, we expect the registration rule to be challenged in court.

Antonelli Law began offering drone registration services this summer. Visit our UAS Registration page for more information.

Attorney Jeffrey Antonelli is available for questions regarding this registration requirement by contacting him at 312-201-8310 or by using the contact form below

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Top 3 Reasons to Hire Antonelli Law to Register your UAV (N Number)

1. Registering UAVs purchased from foreign countries like through is a complicated bureaucratic process. Why bother to go through this bureaucratic process yourself? Do what you do best instead.

Registering your UAV purchased online from  manufacturers or sellers located in another country will involve not only obtaining FAA official original carbon copy forms but also tedious details including making requests directly with foreign Civil Aviation Authorities for assurances to the FAA that the UAV was previously registered or had a registration that was canceled. Eg: FAA Letter re Sci Aero – Australia Registration

This includes purchases through:

If you can plan ahead of time we recommend purchasing these drones/UAVs domestically if possible to avoid the extra layer of complexity in registering a UAV purchased from a manufacturer or seller located in another country.  

2. Establish a lawyer-client relationship with one of the leading drone law firms in the country. 

By hiring Antonelli Law for your N Number registration you are establishing a lawyer-client relationship and have the ability to call or email us in the future with questions or concerns you have with  at reasonable hourly rates and without high minimums. It will be good to have knowledgeable go-to attorneys when you are operating in the ever-changing regulatory environment of drones.

Even if you obtained your Section 333 Grant of Exemption without Antonelli Law’s help we can assist your company in obtaining their required N Number registrations, also referred to as the ‘tail number.’

3. Obtaining an N Number is required by the FAA prior to commercial operations.

Before you can use that highly coveted Section 333 Grant of Exemption, each UAV you use must have a “Tail Number” also known as an N-Number signifying it is registered with the FAA.

“All aircraft operated in accordance with this exemption must be identified by serial number, registered in accordance with 14 CFR part 47, and have identification (N−Number) markings in accordance with 14 CFR part 45, Subpart C. Markings must be as large as practicable.”

For a flat fee of $250 per UAV/drone, Antonelli Law’s experienced staff will do all the paperwork for you and deal with any necessary back-and-forth with the FAA.

A service like this should not be necessary in our modern digital age but is needed. We love our clients and hope this service will help alleviate a lot of the frustration of trying to deal with the FAA yourself. Note: Some registrations may be higher.

Contact Antonelli Law by clicking here to have us handle the FAA process to obtain your FAA registration and obtain your required N Number.

Obtaining your N Numbers can be done any time prior to commencing commercial flights, even prior to filing your Section 333 petition. You will not be allowed to file for a non-blanket COA without an N-Number.

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