​​Review the Restrictions Online

Drone or UAV

​The commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also called drones, is currently prohibited by the FAA; however, proposed rule changes may allow these vehicles to help producers gather data that can enhance the profitability and sustainability of their operations. Photo by L. Duncan, courtesy UTIA.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, have tremendous potential to impact agriculture as well as many other industries, but they cannot currently be flown for commercial use.

UAVs can fly large areas in preplanned flight patterns and deliver digitized, geo-referenced data rapidly to the user at a lower cost than conventional platforms. Applications in agriculture are endless, but some include crop scouting, crop replanting decisions, livestock and pasture monitoring, crop moisture monitoring and forest mapping and inventory. University of Tennessee Extension is among the many farm- and forest-related agencies interested in the lawful operation of drones.
In February 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed regulations for the operation of commercial drones. They received more than 4,500 public comments and will address those in preparation for the full integration of the final regulations, expected in late 2016.
The proposed regulations are for small UAVs, those weighing less than 55 pounds. Additional, less stringent rules are proposed for micro UAVs, which weigh less than 4.4 pounds. These proposed rules can be found at online at faa.gov/uas/nprm. They include these requirements and restrictions:
·         Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only. This cannot be extended via technology or visual observer
·         May not operate over persons not directly involved in operation
·         Daylight only
·         Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft
·         May use visual observer, but not required
·         Maximum airspeed of 100 mph
·         Maximum altitude of 500 ft above ground level
·         Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles
·         No careless or reckless operation
·         Aircraft registration required
·         Cannot operate within Class A airspace
·         Can operate with air traffic control (ATC) permission within Class B, C, D, and E airspace
·         Can operate without ATC permission within Class G airspace.

The operator will be required to:
·         Be at least 17 years old
·         Pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center every 24 months
·         Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
·         Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with small UAV rating
·         Keep up to date inspection, maintenance, and flight records
·         Report an accident that results in injury or property damage to the FAA within 10 days.
For more information regarding UAVs and proposed regulations, contact Lori Duncan, a UT Extension Specialist in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, by email: laduncan@utk.edu.
UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issue at the local, state and national levels.

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Lori Duncan, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, laduncan@utk.edu