Yes, you can fly a drone at night. However, there are specific guidelines for flying at night. As of April 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has loosened some of its night flying restrictions, but there are still regulations to be followed.
Hello, fellow drone enthusiasts! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional drone pilot and photographer. For the past decade, I have been flying drones in all kinds of conditions, including nighttime flying scenarios.
In this article, I will cover some of the basic rules for flying at night and offer some helpful tips to enjoy your night flying expeditions.
- Key Takeaways
- Can You Fly a Drone at Night?
- Tips for Flying Drone at Night
- Final Thoughts
- Check your drone thoroughly before taking off at night. Use a checklist to ensure you are prepared.
- If you are flying for commercial purposes, be sure to apply for a waiver before conducting your flight.
- Most importantly, proceed with caution when flying at night.
Can You Fly a Drone at Night?
Below you will find some basic rules for flying recreational (hobby) drones and commercial drones.
First and most importantly, is that your drone must be registered with the FAA. You can register your drone on their website here.
Also, drones flown at night must be equipped with anti-collision lighting that is visible for 3 miles. The lights must also be flashing while operating the drone at night.
Last but not least, drone operators must complete recurrent online training as regulated by the FAA. For more information on these basic rules for recreational drones, visit the FAA page.
Commercial drones follow different rules for flying at night. While all drone operators must follow Part 107 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), commercial pilots have specific regulations for night flying that differ from recreational drone use.
If you want to fly your commercial drone at night, you may request a waiver from the FAA.
Tips for Flying Drone at Night
Here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned along my drone operation journey.
Plan and Know Your Flying Path
Plan your flight path ahead of time. Mark your path and know the restrictions that may exist along your path. Take the appropriate time to understand exactly where your flight pattern starts and ends so that you do not violate any applicable laws.
Get the Drone Ready
Ensure that your drone is ready for the flight. Be sure to fully charge your battery, have spare batteries available, and take off the ND filter. Maintain a clear line of sight with your drone, know your surroundings, and consider using a visual spotter to assist you with the flight plan.
Don’t forget to have your proof of registration with you at all times while flying your drone.
Control the Height
You may also consider changing your maximum altitude from 400 feet down to somewhere between 200 and 250 feet. I’ve learned that it is much easier to see my drone at a lower altitude and it gives me a long line of sight while flying at night.
Boost the Lightning
Make sure that your drone is easily seen and clearly marked. Consider adding additional lighting to your drone for it to be more easily seen at night without the lights being intrusive to others.
Fly Far Away from People and Other Obstructions
Steer clear of people, animals, and buildings or structures. It can often be difficult to see people and other obstructions at night. Therefore, it is best to fly as far away as legally possible from any kind of hazard.
Here are a couple of answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about flying a drone at night.
How Late Can You Fly a Drone?
The FAA stipulates that you can fly your drone 30 minutes after twilight and 30 minutes before sunrise.
Can You Fly a DJI Drone at Night?
Yes, you can fly a DJI drone at night as long as you follow all the stated regulations from the FAA.
Night flying can be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be risky. It is important to know the rules, have a flight plan, and ensure that your drone is fully operational. Operate your drone at night with extra caution and be mindful of the potential hazards.
Do you enjoy night flights? What should a newbie keep in mind when flying a drone at night? Share your tips in the comments below.