search Part 107 waivers by location directory geographic

This app lets you search Part 107 waivers by location

Curious as to whether any of your neighbors has a Part 107 waiver?

Drone enthusiast Ryan Fox created an app that allows you to search and sort Part 107 waivers by geographic location.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a number of restrictions, as dictated by Part 107 rules, which prevent certain types of flights such as flying at night or over people.

But the FAA does issue waivers to approve certain types of operations that are otherwise limited if you fill out an application that is approved.

The FAA has issued more than 2,400 waivers since 2016. And while you can view all the waivers for free at the FAA’s website, there is no way to sort them geographically. That’s where Fox’s app comes into play.

The app allows you to input an address and specific type of waiver, and it populates a directory of the pilots near you. Here’s what the Part 107 waiver community looks like in Drone Girl’s neighborhood, according to Fox’s app:

We chatted with Fox about the impetus for his Part 107 waiver project:

Drone Girl: What do you think the use case for this app is here?

Ryan Fox: It could be useful if you need to find a pilot to fly for you, but also for communication and networking. Maybe you are about to file for a waiver of your own, and want to talk with someone who already went through the process. Or maybe you want to contact local pilots for a community event. I think it could help inform public policy and education about the drone industry as well.

DG:Why did you decide to make this app?

RF: I wanted to help connect the community. Even if you’re active in the UAS community, it can be hard to know who is around you. I wanted to help people in the community find others.

DG: And so you decided to make a searchable map of all those people!

RF: Waiver data is available through the FAA, but not really in a format that is easily searchable. If you want to fly a mission that requires a waiver, finding someone with a particular waiver doesn’t do you much good if they’re across the country!

DG: How did you make this app?

First I had to automate the data collection and processing, or get the waiver data in the first place. It’s a substantial amount, but computers are very fast. After I had an address for all the waivers, I had to convert them to coordinates for displaying on the map – that process is called geocoding. Finally I stored them in a geospatial database for location-based queries, and set up the web application to search and display results.

DG: Neat! So where does your Part 107 map app go from here?

RF: The site will automatically update itself when new waivers are issued by the FAA, so it will continue to grow as more waivers are approved. At some point I think adding more advanced search features would be useful as well.

DG: What surprised you most while making this app?

RF: The FAA has issued some waivers outside of the United States. I didn’t expect that.

I hope people find it useful, and surprise me with what they use it for!

You can view Fox’s Part 107 waiver map here.

One Comment

  • Dave Dixon says:

    Finding approved waivers is fine, but what will really help is when access to the database of approved *applications* for waiver is made possible. All of the reasons I’ve heard for FAA keeping this information secret just don’t make sense IF it’s FAA’s intent to remove barriers to safe and productive drone employment. Here are a few I’m aware of; are there others?

    – FAA wants to avoid cut-and-paste applications that obviate research on the part of the applicant.
    (What interest does the FAA have in compelling research to re-invent an operational solution by each new user of a solution?)

    – Trade secrets may be contained in the waiver application and FAA wouldn’t want to endanger a potential competitive advantage held by the applicant by publishing the application.
    (There are so many ways this one doesn’t hold water. If a working methodology is a significant trade secret, it certainly won’t be reproducible via the documentation in a waiver application. And for the rare application for which publication is felt by the applicant to hold such a risk, there can be ‘public’ and ‘FAA-only’ versions of the application to protect trade secrets.)

    – FAA already has too many waiver applications coming in and the desire is to reduce the number received.
    (This one is the most difficult to take seriously. More available information about what goes into a successful waiver will only reduce the number of waiver applications; a good application is the result of either a lot of legwork on the part of the applicant, or a lot of trial-and-error with FAA in the loop. Why would FAA want more of the latter?)

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