Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Small UAS Basics

Recently, small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have grown in popularity among, both, hobbyists and commercial entities. However, it’s important to remember that when operating any UAS—or as more commonly known, drone—the operator becomes engaged with the national airspace, as well as, the manned aircraft operating in it. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a “drone” or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is any aircraft flown by a pilot via a ground control system. This includes rotor aircraft, multi-rotor, or fixed wing model aircraft.  To ensure the safety of all, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Congress have established specific safety guidelines for small UAS operators. Drones, weighing between 0.55 lbs. (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25 kg.) must be registered with the FAA, as of Dec. 21, 2015.

Additionally, the reason for which an UAS is operated will determine what type of registration is required. Using a drone for personal enjoyment falls under the FAA’s definition of recreational or hobby use, requiring a simple registration process. However, using a drone for compensation is considered commercial operation and requires a more detailed registration process.

The FAA website can provide further clarification on which activities are viewed as recreational, hobby, commercial, non-hobby, or non-recreational UAS operations.  Learn more about the different distinctions by visiting

Operating UAS Near BTL

The Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field is one of the busiest airports in the State of Michigan., with around 80,000 aircraft operations each year.  With a variety of operations including business, charter, medevac, law enforcement and flight training, the airspace around the airport can be very busy.

Operating an UAS within five nautical miles of the Battle Creek Executive Airport is prohibited without approval from the FAA.  UAS operate within the national airspace, and are subject to oversight and regulations from the FAA, and the Battle Creek Executive Airport Air Traffic Control Tower.  You may request FAA authorization to fly within the Battle Creek Executive Airport Class D controlled airspace through an FAA UAS Service Supplier.  A list of FAA Approved UAS Service Suppliers can be found at

To find out if you are within the restricted area, you can download the FAA’s smarphone app B4UFLY at

The Battle Creek Executive Airport does not approve requests to fly an UAS near the airport.

Safety Guidelines for Recreational UAS Users

  • Fly at or below 400 feet and stay away from surrounding obstacles
  • Keep your UAS within sight
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Understand airspace restrictions and requirements

Related Links

Know Before You Fly – Information for all UAS Users

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)