Part 107 Waivers – How Many of Each Type Has the FAA Approved?

By Pilot Institute
Posted on June 7, 2024 - 5 minute read

Part 107 provides a fairly rigorous set of rules for commercial UAS flight but did you know that you can still fly outside of these rules? There is a legal way to do so, and that is by applying for a Part 107 waiver.

Applying for a Part 107 waiver can take a significant amount of work from preparing the documentation to implementing additional safety measures in the field. Here’s a way to improve your chances of getting that waiver – let’s take a look at the waivers that the FAA has granted so far.

Key Takeaways

  • The rules for Part 107 waivers have changed over the years, and some old rules no longer need to be waived under certain circumstances.
  • There is an increasing number of commercial drone operators requesting for UAS operations beyond visual line of sight.
  • The number of waivers that the FAA is granting has also seen a year-to-year increase, perhaps a good indicator of increasing activity in the commercial drone industry.

Is a Waiver Still Necessary for Night Flights?

An operator flies a drone with anti-collision lights at dusk.

Before we jump into the current numbers for Part 107 waivers, it is worth looking into the history of this topic.  To answer the question briefly – no, a waiver is no longer needed for night operations as long as you use anti-collision lighting.

As of January 2021, the FAA amended Part 107 to allow for the operations of UAS at night without the need for a waiver. This was a very smart decision for the FAA and was beneficial for both the FAA and the UAS operators. Prior to the amendment, an overwhelming majority of waiver applications – about 95% – were for UAS flights outside of daylight or twilight.

With more than 3000 waivers granted for night operations from 2016 to 2020, the FAA decided that night operations could be done with minimal risk by implementing certain safety guidelines. These included the requirement for anti-collision lighting. However, should you decide to fly at night without anti-collision lighting, you will need to secure the appropriate waiver.

 Is a Waiver Needed for Operations Over People?

A drone flies above an open-air crowd.

Now that Remote ID is in full effect, it is technically possible to fly a UAS over people as long as you comply with the conditions for the Category of the UAS you are operating. Outside of the established rules for each Category, you will still need to secure a waiver.

Which Provisions of Part 107 Can Be Waived?

Two drones fly in close proximity.

The FAA maintains a list of the rules under Part 107 that can officially be waived:

  • § 107.25 – Operation from a Moving Vehicle or Aircraft
  • § 107.29(a)(2) – Operation at night
  • § 107.29(b) – Operation at Night
  • § 107.31 – Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation
  • § 107.33 – Visual Observer
  • § 107.35 – Operation of Multiple Small UAS
  • § 107.39 – Operation over human beings
  • § 107.51 – Operating Limitations for Small Unmanned Aircraft
  • § 107.145 – Operations Over Moving Vehicles

Take note that the rules for UAS operations at night and operations over human beings are still included in the list. As mentioned, waiver-free flight under these conditions is only legally allowed under specific safety guidelines. Otherwise, a waiver will still be needed.

How Many Waivers Has the FAA Granted?

An operator flies a drone over a lake with a graph of drove waivers superimposed.

The current list of approved Part 107 waivers that the FAA maintains accounts for 575 approved waivers since 2020 as of May 2024. Expired waivers are no longer on the list.

However, a past feature that we published in January 2020 states that there were around 3600 waivers granted at that time, more than 95% of which were for UAS operations at night. The second most common approved waivers back then were for UAS flights over populated areas – with 98 waivers, accounting for about 2% of the total.

Take note that some of the waivers were applied for multiple provisions, thus the total of all waivers when broken down per Part 107 rule will be significantly higher than the actual number of waivers granted.

Part 107 ruleDescriptionNo. of waivers granted
107.25Operation from a Moving Vehicle or Aircraft9
107.29 (a)(2)Fly a small UAS at night without anti-collision lighting68
107.29 (b)Fly a small UAS during periods of civil twilight without anti-collision lighting67
107.31Fly a small UAS beyond your ability to clearly determine the position, altitude, attitude, and movement of the UAS, with unaided vision.284
107.33Use a visual observer without following all visual observer requirements30
107.33(b)Use a visual observer without operating in the manner specified under 107.31121
107.33(c)(2)Use a visual observer without the remote pilot in command to maintain awareness of the UAS by visual observation97
107.35Fly multiple small UAS with only one remote pilot145
107.39Fly over a person with a small UAS which does not meet conditions of operational categories 1, 2, 3, or 437
107.51(a)Fly a small UAS over 100 miles per hour ground speed12
107.51(b)Fly a small UAS over 400 feet above ground level127
107.51(c)Fly a small UAS with less than 3 statute miles of visibility28
107.51(d)Fly a small UAS within 500 feet vertically or 2000 feet horizontally from clouds20
107.145Fly over moving vehicles with a small UAS which does not meet conditions of operational categories 1, 2, 3, or 433

The clear leader in terms of the number of waivers provided is for UAS operations beyond visual line of sight (107.31), accounting for 284 waivers or more than 25% of the total waivers granted.

There is also good representation for UAS operations during civil twilight without the aid of anti-collision lighting (121 waivers), operations of multiple UAS by one pilot (145 waivers), UAS flights with less than 3 statute miles of visibility (127 waivers), and UAS flight beyond the visual contact of visual observers (121 waivers).

There is a growing trend toward UAS operations beyond visual line of sight, including the scope of visual observers and weather conditions. This opens up a lot of horizons for UAS operations, such as drone delivery, emergency response, and automated drone surveillance.

YearNo. of parties that received Part 107 waivers
2024 (YTD)173

It has also been very interesting to see the rapid year-to-year growth of the number of waivers that the FAA has been awarding. This can be ascribed to either a relaxing of the rules by the FAA or simply a growing volume of UAS operators flying commercially. In any case, this is a positive sign for the commercial drone industry.


The Part 107 rules have evolved greatly since 2016, and so has the environment for applying for waivers from the FAA. Waivers remain a very important provision for Part 107, allowing UAS operators to fly outside the usual rules but in a legal manner.

Looking at the numbers and types of waivers that the FAA has granted in the past years gives us some insight into the ongoing trends in the commercial drone industry. If you are a commercial UAS operator, then it is also very useful to know what other operators are doing.

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