By law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval. Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (PDF) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Authorization for approval prior to the finalization of the Small UAS Rule for allowing such aircraft to perform commercial operations is currently being granted on a case-by-case basis.

The Section 333 Exemption process provides operators who wish to pursue entry into the NAS (safely and legally) a competitive advantage in the UAS marketplace with the intent to discourage illegal operations and improve safety. The FAA Administrator has identified this as a high priority project to address demand for civil operation of UAS for commercial purposes.

There are two ways in which to submit an application:

Petitions for exemption can be sent by internet (www.regulations.gov) or in writing.

It is highly recommended petitioners carefully review the “Conditions and Limitations” section in the most recently granted exemptions.  This will provide valuable insight as to what the FAA is approving under Section 333.

When you are ready to create your petition you must provide the following information to ensure you will not experience any processing delays:

  • Operator’s name and address;
  • The specific applicable regulations from which relief is required (CFR’s);
  • How the operator will maintain an equivalent level of safety or no adverse impact to safety;
  • The proposed operations; and,
  • The make and model of the aircraft for proposed operations (aircraft manuals are not necessary.)

After you have successfully created your petition and you are ready to submit, all of your proprietary/confidential documents should be clearly marked and emailed including your comment tracking number.

Note that it will take approximately 12 weeks for submissions to be posted to the docket and assigned a docket number.

Should you choose to submit your petition in writing you must send the original signed copy of the petition to:

Docket Management Facility

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.

West Building, Ground Floor Room W12-140

Washington, D.C.  20590

Previously granted exemptions may be found at:


The above is a brief description of the overall process of petitioning however we are here to assist in the application process for a successful submission.