Want to Pilot Your Drone in NC? You need the NC UAS Operator Permit.

In order to fly your drone as a commercial or government UAS pilot in the state of NC that you not only need your FAA Authorization such as a Remote Pilot Certificate, but you also need to qualify for the NC UAS Operator Permit. Federal Government agencies and drone flights on their behalf are excluded. Recreational Operators do not need to take the NC DOT UAS Knowledge Test as the hobbyist drone pilots in NC do not need the UAS Operator’s Permit, but the NC DOT information suggests that it’s best practice to know the NC state laws for UAS. The requirement by the state of North Carolina for the UAS Permit is in addition to the FAA part 107 qualifications. It is specific to the qualifying operators who fly in NC.

Here is some background on the policy and rules. In 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill establishing regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft systems, UAS, within the State. The NC Department of Transportation Division of Aviation was assigned the responsibility for developing and administering the UAS knowledge test along with a permitting system to ensure that UAS operators understand and comply with NC laws.

As a commercial or government drone pilot in NC, you will want to definitely read and study the NC UAS Operator Permit Knowledge Test Study Guide. Drone Pilots in NC will find this publication useful to aid in studying for the state administered UAS operator’s test. The NC DOT suggests that this study guide is designed to assist with fully understanding the state laws so that NC drone pilots may fully comply with these rules. This booklet is available in PDF format, and the link is listed below. The FAA owns the regulatory responsibility for the National Airspace, so the North Carolina regulations are focused more on the allowable drone activities in the state of North Carolina and other areas that protect the citizens such as privacy. These rules are specific to flying a drone in North Carolina, and you’ll need to review the material to make sure you fully understand the rules as there are some UAS uses and drone flight situations that are not allowed in NC.

Carolina Drone Academy has worked with quite a number of pilots, companies, and agencies in NC that utilize drones. In reading through the Study Guide, I noted a few key points that our clients will need to review. Here are a few highlights:

· UAS operators are required to obtain permission from the owner of any property they use for launch or recovery operations

· Indoor flights and any imagery collected as a result of those flights are still subject to the North Carolina law

· It is illegal to operate a UAS in North Carolina to conduct surveillance of a person or a dwelling occupied by a person without the person’s consent. This includes the house or dwelling and the land immediately surrounding it. It also includes the boundary where a homeowner can have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

· An unmanned aircraft system used in violation of this section and seized by a law enforcement agency is subject to forfeiture and disposition pursuant to G.S. 18B-504.

As you can see, these rules can potentially impact almost every commercial operator. If you use a drone for construction, roofing, real estate, surveying, mapping, photography or even thermal use, then it is critical that you have a thorough review of this guide and follow the NC UAS rules. For our public safety clients, please note that there is a section of the guide dedicated to Law Enforcement and Emergency Management drone use and operation.


Click on the picture of the NC UAS Operator Permit Knowledge Test Study Guide to download the file. Once you have a good understanding of the material, there is an online exam that you have to take before you can receive your NC UAS Operator Permit.

The NC DOT has created a dedicated web portal for UAS Operators. The link may be found on the Carolina Drone Academy Resource Page (click here). You will need to create an account and setup your user id and password in order to access the portal. Once you create your account, drone operators are able to take the online exam. Upon passing the 20-question exam, drone pilots are able to print out their NC UAS Operator Permit.

It is also important to note that the NC UAS Operator Permit is good for two years to the date. This is different than the FAA Remote Piot Certificate that expires two years later at the end of the month.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/carolinadrone) and subscribe to our newsletter on our website (CarolinaDroneAcademy.com) to insure you continue to receive valuable drone news and updates.

About Carolina Drone Academy

Carolina Drone Academy specializes in providing premier drone pilot training with in-person drone training courses and hands-on drone pilot flight training across most commercial sectors including the US Military, law enforcement, media and advertising companies, colleges, engineering, construction, and other government agencies. Please visit www.CarolinaDroneAcademy.com for the latest course offerings including in-person FAA 107 exam preparation classes, hands-on pilot flight training, advanced drone filming and photography, along with other specialized drone solutions.

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