skip to main
Close Menu

Commercial Operators

​​ What is a Commercial Operator?

Commerical Drone Use
A person or company using unmanned aircraft system/drone technology for compensation or business purposes is considered to be a commercial operator. This includes any person or company using a drone in any way to advertise, promote or demonstrate a product or service – even if the product or service itself does not include a drone, drone-derived photography, etc.

For example, if a real estate agent uses a drone to photograph a property in order to advertise or promote that real estate for sale or lease, then that drone operation is commercial. The drone was used for business purposes.

Federal Restrictions & Requirements

  • Commercial operators can operate drones under 14 CFR Part 107, also known as the Small UAS Rule, as of Aug. 29, 2016. Under this rule, the person operating a small unmanned aircraft system must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).

    There are 16 testing locations in North Carolina for commercial operators wanting to take the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate Exam.

  • Commercial operators can also operate drones under an exemption authorized under Section 333 of the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. This is a case-by-case exemption that must be applied for and approved by the FAA.
  • As an alternative to operating under Part 107 or a Section 333 exemption, a drone operator may apply for a federal Special Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.

North Carolina Restrictions & Requirements

  • Commercial drone operators must be at least 16 years old.
  • Commercial drone operators must take and pass the N.C. Department of Transportation's Unmanned Aircraft System Operator's Knowledge Test – a prerequisite to applying for a state permit.
  • To obtain a permit, drone operators must provide to the state proof of their remote pilot certificate or other authorization to conduct commercial unmanned aircraft system operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (see above, "Federal Restrictions & Requirements).
  • Permitted operators agree to these terms and conditions.


  • Icon Representing a Link

    Register Your Drone With the FAA

    Drones and unmanned aircraft systems weighing between .55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

  • Icon Representing a Link

    UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide

    A study guide for the N.C. Department of Transportation's UAS knowledge test for commercial and governmental operators.

  • Icon Representing a Link

    UAS Knowledge Test & Permitting

    Testing required for a permit to ensure that commercial and government operators understand and comply with laws regulating drone usage in North Carolina.


2/6/2020 12:44 PM