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SDIS Drone FAQs

It is important for you to remember that in order to have liability coverage for your drone operations, you must be able to prove you were in compliance with all federal, state and local laws at the time of the claim. Your district should be staying current on any and all changes to rules related to drone operations. We will do our best to update this FAQ as timely as possible when we learn of changes to rules and laws.

Do we need to register our drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and State of Oregon?

Yes. Any drone over 0.55 pounds is considered an aircraft and you must register it with both the FAA and the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA).

Is there a requirement from FAA or ODA to report on our drone operations?

  • FAA
    No, there is no reporting requirements.
     
  • ODA
    Yes, you must report annually to the State of Oregon in accordance with ORS 837.360 (7). This report should be filed by January 31st for the previous calendar year.
    (7)(a) A public body that registers one or more unmanned aircraft systems under subsection (2)(a) of this section shall provide an annual report to the Oregon Department of Aviation that:
    (A) Summarizes the frequency of use of the unmanned aircraft systems by the public body during the preceding calendar year; 
    (B) Summarizes the purposes for which the unmanned aircraft systems have been used by the public body during the preceding calendar year; and
    (C) Indicates how the public can access the policies and procedures established under ORS 837.362.

What if we have a member of the community who wants to help our district by using their own drone?

If that community member is doing work on behalf of the district, they may be an agent of the district and the district could be responsible for their actions.  At that point, the pilot needs to be following all federal, state and local rules for commercial drone operations (an example would be flying under Part 107 or Certificate of Authorization). In other words, if a person that normally flies drones as a hobbyist, they are no longer a hobbyist once they are flying on behalf of the district and must follow rules for commercial flight.

How long do I need to retain data collected from drone operations?

We have not found any specific retention rules directly related to data (imagery, flight logs, etc.) collected from drone operations for special districts.  We have contacted several agencies asking for clarification on retention of data and received various takes on where to find the information.  OAR Chapter 166 Division 150 has special district specific retention requirements. You should also look at your internal records retention policies to determine where drone data that is collected from operations fits into them. The Secretary of States Archives Division gave direction that special districts can follow (76) of the above OAR for data captured from drone operations.  We realize this section is related to video surveillance for law enforcement of which most of you do not fall under, but it was the most relevant standard that the Archives Division suggested special districts follow for drone data retention.

One of our volunteers flies his personal drone for District operations. They tried to register the drone with the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA), and it was kicked back saying they don’t need to register it. What should we do? 

If they tried to register their drone in their own name it will get kicked back as only public entities are required to register with ODA, but because the drone is being flown for District operations, it needs to be registered with ODA in the District’s name not the volunteers.

Do I have to do anything to keep my Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate current?

It's important for all pilots, including Certified Remote Pilots, to stay current and keep their knowledge up to date. The FAA requires you to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate every 2 years. 

You must take a recurrent knowledge test within 24 calendar months of passing the initial knowledge test and pay the testing fee.

After passing the recurrent knowledge test, you must be able to show a copy of your recurrent knowledge test report if asked.

If you have questions for ODA who should be contacted? How about FAA questions?

Highlights of FAA Part 107 and the Oregon Revised Statutes on UAS Use

  • Pilots must be certified by the FAA to pilot a drone
  • Drones must give right-of-way to manned aircraft at all times
  • The drone must remain within sight of the pilot without the aid of anything but corrective lenses
  • The drone may not operate over people at any time other than participants in the drone operations
  • The drone may fly only during daylight hours with more than 3 miles of visibility
  • The drone may fly no higher than 400 feet above the ground (AGL) or no farther than 400 feet from a structure
  • The drone may fly no closer than 500 feet below and 2000 feet horizontally from clouds/fog
  • Operations in Class B, C, D and some E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
  • Temporary flight restrictions must be followed
  • No person may act as a remote pilot in command or visual observer for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time
  • No careless or reckless operations
  • No carriage of hazardous materials
  • A preflight inspection by the remote pilot in command is required to ensure the drone is airworthy
  • A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with its safe operation, including the use of alcohol or drugs
  • The drone must be registered with the FAA and ODA
  • A public body must report to the ODA annually about their drone use

For additional information and copies of the complete rules:

https://www.faa.gov/uas/

www.oregon.gov/aviation/pages/index.aspx

https://www.dronepilotgroundschool.com/

If you have more questions, please contact:

Risk Management Department:

Riskmanagement@sdao.com or by calling 800-285-5461