Can you fly a drone at night?

Yes, you certainly can. However, different restrictions and regulations apply depending on why you’re flying your drone and where you’re flying it. There is still a lot of ambiguity when it comes to flying drones at night. The response, as in the past, was no without the appropriate operational waiver and risk mitigation techniques. The laws for night-time flying have evolved through time. FAA released the most recent guidance on night-time flying in April 2021. This removed some of the extra conditions that existed previously, such as supplementary waivers.

Here’s all you need to know about flying drones at night.



What are the new Part 107 rules for flying at night?

Waivers to the FAA’s (sUAS) Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations, also known as the Part 107 rules, allow you to fly in ways that the FAA’s (sUAS) Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations, also known as the Part 107 rules, prohibit. Drone pilots were only allowed to fly during daylight hours and civil twilight under Part 107 of the FAA’s regulations governing commercial drone operations. Part 107 pilots holding a valid LAANC daytime authorization and an authorization letter from the FAA that expires on September 30 have been authorized to operate in regulated airspace at night since April 2021, while LAANC providers changed their software. Drone pilots have been taking advantage of these modifications and flying missions at night since they became operational.



For current Part 107 pilots:

The only method to fly at night was to submit an application to the FAA for a Part 107 dispensation. The FAA may issue you permission to operate after sunset if you can demonstrate that you can mitigate the dangers of doing so. The time between the conclusion of evening civil twilight and the start of morning civil twilight is known as night in aviation.



For Part 107 applicants:

Before flying in controlled airspace, drone pilots must obtain FAA approval. Part 107 testing materials have been revised by the FAA to incorporate subject matter relevant to drone night operations. The pilot in command must have acquired their initial Part 107 remote pilot certification after April 6, 2021 in order to fly drones at night. You can ask for a waiver that will temporarily relieve you from the Part 107 regulations if you want to fly over people or if you want to undertake a BVLOS flight for a railroad inspection. Nighttime drone pilots must use proper anti-collision lights and get certified or undergo recurrent training after April 6, 2021, in addition to following Part 107 standards for daylight flights.



What are the new rules for recreational drone pilots?

The pilot in command must demonstrate awareness of these requirements before flying drones at night. It’s even more critical to ensure you have clearance to fly in the airspace you’ll be operating in, because determining your position and avoiding other aircraft in flight can be more challenging than usual. There are still certain regulations in effect, albeit they differ depending on whether you’re flying for leisure or commercial purposes.

  1. The FAA requires that your drone be registered.
  2. Follow a set of safety recommendations developed by the community.
  3.  Anti-collision lighting is required on your drone.




What anti-collision lights should you use?

Using a drone anti-collision light for leisure, public safety, and commercial purposes has several advantages. When it comes to night-time flying, you’ll need anti-collision lighting that’s visible from three miles away in addition to a drone that fulfills FAA regulations for safe flight. Anti-collision lights are either red or white, and they blink or strobe. Allows you and others to see the drone more clearly.

  1. Drone anti-collision lights are commonly used in limited visibility and beyond line of sight conditions to help other aircraft see your drone flying.
  2. Remote pilots are allowed to fly at night under Section 107.29.




Picture of flying a drone at night




Flying at night in controlled airspace

Even if it is permissible to fly a tiny unmanned aircraft at night, in regulated airspace, a Remote Pilot In Command (RPIC) is still required to get airspace authorization. The FAA’s LAANC system provides fast airspace authorizations to drone pilots. You may now use it to seek permission to fly at night in regulated airspace. It’s much more critical to ensure you have clearance to fly in the airspace you’ll be operating in at night, because determining your position and avoiding other aircraft in flight can be more difficult than usual. Drone operators can now request airspace authorizations for operations at night as well as during the day using the latest iteration of LAANC.



Is Remote ID a requirement for flying at night?

A drone’s capacity to give identity and location information to third parties while in flight is known as remote ID. All drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) must broadcast the operator’s location and a unique identification number beginning in 2023, similar to a digital license plate. This is referred to as “Remote ID.” You do not require Remote ID at this time. Remote ID will offer information on drones in flight. This including the drone’s identity, location, and altitude, as well as the drone’s control station or take-off site. It’s not necessary if you’re flying in a community-based or educational facility certified FRIA.



Final thoughts:

Drone flying at night may be a fantastic experience, and you’ll be able to capture some incredible footage. Following these new standards will enable remote pilots to deliver a higher quality of service to their clients. This allowing them to provide low light/night photography and videography services at a lower cost. Depending on whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, there are still some restrictions to observe. Make sure your drone is ready to fly and that it is fully charged. Also, that you have your SD card with you. Always make sure your drone is calibrated. Familiarize yourself with the location just to get the compass going. Again, you can never be too safe when flying, especially at night.



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