Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Arizona
FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/
Updated January 10, 2023
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Arizona
Drone operation in the State of Arizona is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. Click here for details on FAA USA Drone Laws.
In addition, the Arizona legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Arizona drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above.
Are drones allowed in Arizona?
Drones are allowed in Arizona for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments. Read on for details.
Specific additional drone use laws by Arizona State legislature
Arizona’s law uses the terms model aircraft, civil unmanned aircraft, and public unmanned aircraft to describe drones as used for different purposes.
Model aircraft: an unmanned aircraft that is “capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” (Hobby)
Civil unmanned aircraft: “an unmanned aircraft or unmanned
aircraft system that is operated by a person for any purpose other than strictly for hobby or recreational purposes, including commercial purposes, or in the furtherance of or incidental to any business or media service or agency.” (Commercial)
Public unmanned aircraft: an unmanned aircraft “operated by
a public agency for a government-related purpose.” (Government/Law Enforcement)
Unmanned aircraft: “an aircraft, including an aircraft commonly known as a drone, that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.”
“Critical facility” means any of the following:
- A petroleum or alumina refinery.
- A petroleum, chemical or rubber production, transportation, storage or processingfacility.
- A chemical manufacturing facility.
- A water or wastewater treatment facility and water development, distribution orconveyance system, including a dam.
- An electric generation facility, as defined in section 42-14156, and any associatedsubstation or switchyard.
- An electrical transmission or distribution substation.
- An electrical transmission line of at least sixty-nine thousand volts.
- An electronic communication station or tower.
- An energy control center.
- A distribution operating center.
- A facility that transfers or distributes natural gas, including a compressor station,regulator station, city gate station or pressure limiting station or a liquefied natural gasfacility or supplier tap facility.
- Any railroad infrastructure or facility.
- A federal, state, county or municipal court.
- A public safety or emergency operation facility.
- A federal, state, county or municipal jail or prison or other facility in which persons areincarcerated.
- A federal or state military installation or facility.
- A hospital that receives air ambulance services.
13-3729. – Unlawful operation of model or unmanned aircraft; state preemption; classification; definitions
The operation of a model aircraft or civil unmanned aircraft is a class 1 misdemeanor if it is:
1. prohibited by federal law or regulation, including FAA regulations
2. Interferes with the operation of law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency services.
Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, 3 years of probation, and a $2,500 fine plus surcharges.
The operation or use of an unmanned aircraft to photograph or linger over or near a critical facility in the furtherance of a crime is a class 6 felony, except that a second or subsequent violation is a class 5 felony.
Class 6 felonies are punishable by up to 2 years in prison.
A person who operates an aircraft (model aircraft and civil unmanned aircraft) in the air, on the ground, or on the water in a careless or reckless manner that endangers the life or property of another is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
In determining whether the operation was careless or reckless, the court shall consider the standards for the safe operation of aircraft prescribed by federal statutes or regulations governing aeronautics.
Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within Arizona
This county ordinance states that all UAV pilots must not operate their crafts in a manner that has the potential to create a hazard to the general public.
The ordinance also bans drones and model aircraft from operating in county-owned regional parks or recreational areas. The only exceptions are those spaces designated for UAVs. Drone pilots can learn more about designated RC Fields from the Phoenix Drone User Group.
This law bans all drones and other UAS/UAV operations within Phoenix city parks and preserves owned and managed by the city. There are eight exceptions for parks specifically designated for drone/model radio-controlled aircraft.
The eight drone-friendly Phoenix city parks currently include:
- Coyote Basin
- Desert Foothills Park (Lower Field)
- Dynamite Park
- El Prado Park
- Esteban Park (East Quadrant)
- Grovers Basin
- Mountain View II Park (South of Ballfield)
- Werner’s Field
All unmanned aircraft pilots must adhere to Phoenix City Code, section 24-49, and federal regulations at all times.
This city ordinance outlines official drone uses and permitted operations by city employees. That includes search and rescue, emergency management, law enforcement, and effective capital project management.
Specific additional laws in Jurisdictions within Arizona
Many cities or towns within the state of Arizona may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Arizona
If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.
Recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) in Arizona are approved under FAA law, specifically Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.
Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and help keep the airspace available to everyone.
The law requires that all recreational flyers pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of passage if asked by law enforcement or FAA personnel. The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) was developed to meet this requirement.
TRUST provides education and testing on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly your drone recreationally under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, you must pass the test before you fly.
Note: If your drone weighs more than .55 pounds (lbs), you must register your drone through the FAA‘s Drone Zone.
To fly your drone as a recreational flyer, it’s as easy as 1-2-3
Understand recreational flying requirements
- Note: Non-recreational drone flying include things like taking photos to help sell a property or service, roof inspections, or taking pictures of a high school football game for the school’s website. Goodwill can also be considered non-recreational. This would include things like volunteering to use your drone to survey coastlines on behalf of a non-profit organization. Remember, if you’re not sure which rules apply to your flight, fly under Part 107 (See below).
- You may take the free online test through any of the FAA approved test administrators.
- All FAA-approved TRUST test administrators offer the test free.
- All test questions are correctable to 100% prior to issuing your completion certificate.
- After completing TRUST, you’ll need to download, save or print your completion certificate.
- If you lose your certificate, you will need to re-take TRUST.
- View a list of TRUST Test Administrators
Receive your certificate
- After you pass the test, you will receive a certificate from the test administrator you selected.
- Test administrators will not keep a record of your certificate. You must present a copy of your certificate if asked by law enforcement officers.
General Rules for Recreational Flyers
The Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft (USC 44809) is the law that describes how, when, and where you can fly drones for recreational purposes. Following these rules helps keep people, your drone and our airspace safe:
- Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
- Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO).
For more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, read Advisory Circular 91-57C.
- Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a visual observer who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
- Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
- Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and surface Class E designated for an airport) only with prior FAA authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
- Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
Note: Flying drones in restricted airspace is not allowed. Drone pilots should always check for airspace restrictions prior to flight on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
- Have a current FAA registration, mark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you when flying.
Note: Beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone requires an FAA registration number it will be also required to broadcast Remote IDinformation.
- Do not operate your drone in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.
Recreational drone pilots should know that if they violate these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.
It is recommended that recreational drone operators consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations on the proper use of recreational drones and use common sense when operating these devices around crowded public areas, wildlife, or historic resources.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Arizona
If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.
Commercial drone operations in Arizona are approved under the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.
There are three main steps drone owners must follow To fly under Part 107 rules:
The Operations Over People rule became effective on April 21, 2021. Drone pilots operating under Part 107 may fly at night, over people and moving vehicles without a waiver as long as they meet the requirements defined in the rule. Airspace authorizations are still required for night operations in controlled airspace under 400 feet.
If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Part 107 guidelines. To fly under Part 107 rules, there are 3 main steps.
Step 1: Learn the Rules
Make sure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules.
If you are not sure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended operation check our user identification tool.
Some operations will require a waiver. Here are the regulations specified in §107.205 that are subject to waiver:
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft – §107.25
- Operation at Night – §107.29(a)(2) and (b)
- Visual line of sight aircraft operation – §107.31
- Visual observer – §107.33
- Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems – §107.35
- Yielding the right of way – §107.37(a)
- Operation over human beings – §107.39
- Operation in certain airspace – §107.41
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft – §107.51
- Operations Over Moving Vehicles – §107.145
Learn more about Part 107 Waivers.
Drone operators should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that drone operators must avoid manned aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment.
Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test
To be eligible to get your Remote Pilot Certificate, you must be:
- At least 16 years old
- Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
- Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
Study for the Knowledge Test
- Review Knowledge Test Suggested Study Materials provided by the FAA.
Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN)
- Create an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile prior to registering for the knowledge test.
Schedule an Appointment
- Take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
Complete FAA Form 8710-13
- Once you’ve passed your test, for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) login the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)* to complete FAA form 8710-13.
- Review the full process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.
Step 3: Register your Drone with the FAA
Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years. You’ll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy in order to register. Learn more about registering your drone.
- Create an account and register your drone at FAADroneZone. Select “Fly sUAS under Part 107.”
- Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number in case it gets lost or stolen.
Useful published information on flying drones in Arizona
We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts in supporting an internet educational campaign called Know Before You Fly. The tips, pointers, and resources apply to Arizona Drone Users also. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – Mostly for commercial drone service providers and users.
Academy of Model Aeronautics – Mostly for hobbyists
NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model, toy, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.
Traveling with a Drone?
Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone.
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