Can You Fly a Drone in Class E Airspace? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you wondering if it's possible to fly a drone in Class E airspace? Look no further!

This article will provide you with all the information you need to know about the regulations, restrictions, and requirements for flying a drone in Class E airspace.

We will also give you some helpful tips on how to safely navigate this type of airspace and debunk common misconceptions.

So, if you're ready to take your drone to new heights, let's dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Class E airspace is designated for controlled airspace and extends from above 700 feet AGL to, but not including, 18,000 feet MSL.
  • Flying in Class E airspace requires complying with certain restrictions, such as altitude limitations, distance from airports, and adherence to specific flight paths.
  • To operate a drone in Class E airspace, pilots must obtain a remote pilot certificate issued by the FAA, which requires passing a written exam and undergoing a background check.
  • It is important for drone pilots to stay updated on the latest regulations and advisories related to drone operations in Class E airspace and follow safety guidelines to ensure safe flight.

Overview of Class E Airspace Regulations

Class E airspace regulations allow for the operation of drones in certain areas. Understanding airspace classification is crucial for drone pilots to ensure they are flying in a safe and legal manner.

Class E airspace is typically found above 700 feet above ground level (AGL), and it extends up to, but not including, 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL). This type of airspace is designated for controlled airspace, but it does not have the same level of air traffic control services as Class B or Class C airspace.

The importance of airspace safety cannot be overstated. It is necessary to have regulations in place to prevent collisions between drones and other aircraft. Class E airspace provides a controlled environment for drones to operate safely. However, it is important for drone pilots to be aware of any restrictions or requirements specific to the area in which they are flying. This could include obtaining necessary authorizations or operating within certain limitations.

Understanding the Restrictions on Drone Operations in Class E Airspace

Navigating through the airspace designated as E can be challenging due to the restrictions placed on operating unmanned aerial vehicles. When it comes to flying drones in Class E airspace, there are specific rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Restrictions on Drone Operations: Flying a drone in Class E airspace requires complying with certain restrictions to ensure safety and prevent interference with other aircraft. These restrictions may include altitude limitations, distance from airports, and adherence to specific flight paths.

  • Safety Guidelines for Flying Drones: To operate a drone in Class E airspace safely, it is crucial to follow established guidelines. These guidelines include:

  • Maintain Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) with your drone at all times to avoid collisions and ensure control.

  • Respect the maximum altitude limit set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prevent interference with other airspace users.

  • Be aware of the surrounding environment, including nearby airports and other aircraft.

  • Stay updated on the latest regulations and advisories related to drone operations in Class E airspace.

Requirements for Drone Pilots in Class E Airspace

Operating a drone in Class E airspace requires specific qualifications and adherence to airspace regulations. To fly in Class E airspace, you must obtain a remote pilot certificate issued by the FAA. This certification ensures you have the necessary knowledge and skills to operate a drone safely.

To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, you must be at least 16 years old and pass a written exam covering various topics such as airspace regulations, weather conditions, and emergency procedures. You must also undergo a background check conducted by the TSA.

Once you have your remote pilot certificate, familiarize yourself with the specific regulations that apply to drone operations in Class E airspace. These regulations include maintaining visual line of sight with your drone, avoiding manned aircraft, and operating your drone at or below 400 feet above ground level.

Tips for Flying a Drone Safely in Class E Airspace

Make sure to always check for any updates or changes to the regulations in order to ensure the safe flight of your drone in Class E airspace. As a drone pilot, it's important to stay informed and follow the guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Here are some tips to help you fly your drone safely in Class E airspace:

  • Flying Drones at Night
    Ensure your drone has proper lighting. When flying at night, it's crucial to have lights on your drone that are visible from a distance. This will help other aircraft spot your drone and avoid any potential collisions.

Familiarize yourself with night flying regulations. The FAA has specific regulations for flying drones at night. Make sure you are aware of these regulations and follow them to ensure the safety of your flight.

  • Weather Conditions for Drone Operations
    Check the weather forecast. Before flying your drone, always check the weather forecast for the area. Strong winds, rain, or other adverse weather conditions can affect the stability and control of your drone.

Be mindful of temperature extremes. Extreme temperatures can impact the performance of your drone's battery. Cold temperatures can decrease the battery life, while hot temperatures can cause the battery to overheat. Be cautious when operating your drone in extreme weather conditions.

Common Misconceptions About Flying Drones in Class E Airspace

Don't let misunderstandings about flying in Class E airspace hold you back from enjoying the freedom and possibilities that come with piloting a drone. There are some common misconceptions that may discourage drone enthusiasts from exploring this airspace, but with the right knowledge, you can confidently navigate through it.

One misconception is that drone registration is required for flying in Class E airspace. However, this is not true. Drone registration is only necessary for drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds and are flown for recreational purposes. As long as your drone falls under these weight limitations, you are free to fly in Class E airspace without registering it.

Another misconception is that weather conditions are always an issue in Class E airspace. While it is true that weather can impact drone flights, it is not exclusive to Class E airspace. Pilots should always check the weather conditions before flying their drones, regardless of the airspace they plan to operate in. This ensures the safety of the flight and helps prevent any adverse weather-related incidents.

Steps to Obtain Authorization for Drone Operations in Class E Airspace

To obtain authorization for drone operations in Class E airspace, it's important to follow the necessary steps and procedures outlined by the FAA. Here are the key steps you need to take:

  • Research the Regulations:
    Familiarize yourself with the FAA's regulations regarding drone operations in Class E airspace. Understand the specific requirements and restrictions that apply to your situation.

  • Submit an Authorization Request:
    Visit the FAA's DroneZone website and create an account. Fill out the necessary information, including the requested dates and location for your drone operations. Provide details about your drone, such as its weight, maximum altitude, and any special equipment it may have.

  • Wait for Approval:
    The FAA will review your request and may contact you for additional information. Be patient, as the process can take some time depending on the volume of requests.

  • Comply with Conditions:
    If your authorization is approved, make sure to comply with the conditions set by the FAA. Follow all safety guidelines and operate your drone responsibly.


In conclusion, flying a drone in Class E airspace requires careful adherence to regulations and obtaining proper authorization. Understanding the restrictions and requirements for drone pilots in this airspace is crucial for safe and legal operations.

By following the tips for flying safely and dispelling common misconceptions, drone pilots can navigate Class E airspace with confidence.

Remember, always seek authorization and stay informed about any changes in regulations to ensure a successful and compliant flight.

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