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How Do You Legally Fly a Drone Above 400 Feet

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An image showcasing a drone soaring high above a picturesque landscape, with the drone pilot operating it from an official control station and diligently adhering to the legal guidelines for flying drones above 400 feet
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Do you know how to legally fly your drone above 400 feet? If you’re someone who values freedom and wants to explore the skies, it’s important to understand the rules set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Whether you’re a recreational or commercial drone pilot, there are specific guidelines you need to follow. For recreational pilots, the maximum altitude allowed is 400 feet above-ground-level (AGL), regardless of the airspace.

However, commercial pilots certified under Part 107 have more flexibility, as they can fly higher than 400 feet AGL if they meet certain conditions.

So, let’s dive into the details and learn how you can legally soar above 400 feet with your drone while respecting the airspace and ensuring safety for all.

Key Takeaways

  • FAA regulations set altitude restrictions for drone operation, with a maximum limit of 400 feet AGL for recreational pilots in uncontrolled airspace.
  • Part 107 Certified Remote Pilots can obtain a waiver from the FAA to fly above 400 feet AGL, but detailed safety protocols and flight conduct demonstrations are required.
  • Safety precautions such as reliable GPS systems, checking weather conditions, maintaining a safe distance from manned aircraft, and adhering to FAA regulations are important for flying at higher altitudes.
  • Tools and technology such as built-in altimeters, barometric pressure sensors, and smartphone apps can aid in measuring drone altitude, but responsible piloting practices and awareness are still essential.

Understanding FAA Regulations for Drone Altitude



To legally fly a drone above 400 feet, you should familiarize yourself with the FAA regulations for drone altitude. The FAA has established these regulations to ensure the safe operation of drones in the National Airspace System.

When flying a drone, it’s crucial to understand the maximum altitude limitations imposed by these regulations. Recreational drone pilots are generally limited to a maximum altitude of 400 feet above-ground-level in uncontrolled airspace. However, in controlled airspace, additional restrictions may apply, and pilots must adhere to the maximum altitude restrictions specified by the grid numbers.

Part 107 Certified Remote Pilots, who’ve obtained a commercial drone pilot license, also have altitude limitations, except when flying within a 400-foot radius of a structure and not exceeding its immediate uppermost limit.

Steps to Obtain a Waiver for Flying Above 400 Feet

If you’re a Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot, you can obtain a waiver from the FAA to legally fly your drone above 400 feet AGL. To obtain this waiver, you must follow the FAA’s waiver process, which involves providing detailed safety protocols and demonstrating how your flight will be conducted safely without posing a risk to manned aircraft or people on the ground.

The FAA considers each waiver application on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the proposed altitude limit and the measures put in place to ensure safety. It’s important to stay up to date with the FAA’s guidelines and any changes in regulations regarding drone flights in uncontrolled airspace.

Safety Precautions for Flying Drones at Higher Altitudes

When flying at higher altitudes, it’s important to take certain safety precautions to ensure a safe and successful drone flight. As a drone pilot, you must understand and adhere to the drone regulations set by the FAA to legally fly your drone in the National Airspace.

To fly your drone at higher altitudes, consider the following safety precautions. Firstly, ensure that your drone is equipped with a reliable GPS system to maintain accurate altitude readings.

Secondly, check the weather conditions before flying, avoiding high winds and storms that can affect stability at higher altitudes.

Additionally, always keep a safe distance from any manned aircraft and avoid flying near airports or in controlled airspace.

Finally, maintain a clear line of sight with your drone to monitor its position and surroundings.

Tools and Technology to Measure Drone Altitude

To accurately measure the altitude of your drone, you can utilize various tools and technology. One popular option is the DJI Mini, which is equipped with a built-in altimeter that provides real-time altitude readings.

For more advanced drones like the DJI Mavic, you can rely on the barometric pressure sensor to calculate the altitude.

Additionally, there are smartphone apps available that use GPS technology to determine the drone’s height above sea level. These apps can be particularly useful when flying in controlled airspace, as they can help you stay within the legal altitude limits specified by CFR Part 107.

However, it’s important to note that these tools and technology are aids and shouldn’t replace responsible piloting practices. Always stay aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for other aircraft, as well as any local regulations or restrictions.

Exploring Opportunities for Higher Altitude Drone Operations

You can explore opportunities for higher altitude drone operations by understanding the FAA’s guidelines and obtaining the necessary waivers.

For Remote Pilots operating commercial drones, the FAA allows for waivers to fly above the 400 feet AGL limit. These waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis and require a thorough application process. To apply for a waiver, you must demonstrate a clear understanding of the risks involved and provide detailed safety measures to mitigate those risks.

It’s important to note that recreational drone pilots aren’t eligible for altitude waivers. Additionally, when operating drones near airports, special considerations and permissions must be obtained due to the potential impact on manned aircraft.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Fly My Drone Higher Than 400 Feet?

You can legally fly your drone higher than 400 feet as a Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot, but only if you are near a structure. Remember to follow drone altitude limits and safety guidelines to ensure compliance with drone flight regulations and legal requirements.

How High Can You Fly Without FAA Approval?

You cannot legally fly a drone above 400 feet without FAA approval. Safety regulations and airspace restrictions are in place to prevent collisions with manned aircraft. Obtaining FAA approval is crucial for high altitude flights, ensuring the safety of all airspace users.

What Is the Largest Drone You Can Fly Without a License?

The largest drones you can fly without a license are those that fall under the recreational drone use category. However, they still need to adhere to weight restrictions and follow drone regulations and safety guidelines. Registration is also required.

Does the FAA Know When I Fly My Drone?

To legally fly a drone above 400 feet, you must follow FAA regulations. The FAA monitors drone activities and enforces laws to ensure airspace safety. Technological advancements in drone tracking help maintain privacy and track registered drones.

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Dominic Schultz

Founder | Digon Design

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