What Happens If You Fly A Drone Above 400 Feet 2021: Top Full Guide

What Happens If You Fly A Drone Above 400 Feet

what happens if you fly a drone above 400 feet? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is restricting the use of drones for commercial purposes to a height below 400 feet in a bid to avoid collisions with aircraft. In April 2016, the FAA mandated that drones operated by the US government cannot fly higher than 400 feet for security reasons. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has restricted the use of drones for commercial purposes to a height below 400 feet in a bid to avoid collisions with aircraft.

In this article, we will explain this clearly to you.

What Are The Part 107 Rules?

What are the Part 107 rules?

We will refer to the Part 107 rules as the definitive aeronautical law for drone flight. Although 14 CFR Part 107 applies to drone pilots, it is also the most stringent criteria for drone flight. It would be safer to make Section 107 the norm in order to ensure that we work within legal limits.

Section 107.51 outlines the applicable principles of Part 107. This section is called “Running limits of small unmanned aircraft.” It contains a number of restrictions that relate to speed, elevation, and visibility. Item B in this Department refers to height.

“The height of the tiny unmanned aircraft cannot exceed 400 feet above ground level unless it is flown within a 400-foot radius around a structure and does not fly more than 400 feet beyond the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.”

The rule’s instant exclusion is that it is unlikely to fly above 400 feet if you are flying in an area with a large arrangement. There is still some ambiguity, as Part 107 does not define the structure nor from which benchmark point the 400-foot limit should be measured.

What are the laws regarding flying high-altitude drones?

The FAA has listed the rules and regulations for high-altitude drones that must be followed in all situations.

  • You must ensure that your drone is kept below 400 feet in Class G uncontrolled airspace.
  • To fly in controlled airspaces, Class B, C, D, and E, you will need authorization waivers. You can obtain authorization from LAANC or NoDroneZone. Or any written agreement with Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Even if you have been given permission to fly near manned aircraft, it is a violation of safe airspace.
  • Fly your commercial or recreational drone in a suspicious manner and avoid flying over people.
  • For authorization to avoid height restriction, you can also take the Part 107 licensing test
  • Before you fly your drone in controlled or uncontrolled airspace, register it with the FAA.

what Happens If You Fly A Drone Above 400 Feet

what happens if you fly a drone above 400 feet

What Is The Basis For The 400-foot Rule?

Although the rule that allows drone flights to a maximum height of 400 feet has been in place for a while, it was controversial until recently. This rule is based upon the 500-foot minimum cruising altitude for manned aircraft. According to the FAA, the 100-foot buffer allows for close encounters between drones and manned aircraft.

This rule is especially important in areas where helicopter flying is common, as helicopters tend to fly at low altitudes.

We are now discussing the cruising altitude for manned aircraft. It is worth noting that the minimum cruising height can vary depending on topography right underneath an aircraft’s flight path and the presence of large, man-made structures. A helicopter flying above a tall skyscraper would set a minimum altitude of 500 feet. So pilots can adjust their flight plans. Accordingly, sectional charts often indicate the height of the tallest obstacles in an area.

What Is The Limit At 400 Feet?

What Is The Limit At 400 Feet?

Because of FAA safety rules and regulations for controlled airspace, Commercial and Recreational Drones cannot fly further than 400 feet.

Part 107 rules limit drones to 400 feet. This allows for a 100-foot safety buffer between remote-controlled drones and crewed aircraft at 500 feet. This is especially important in areas with heavy helicopter traffic. The topography of the area will affect the cruising altitudes of crewed aircraft. Pilots must maintain a minimum cruising height of 500 feet above the highest object in their flight path when flying over mountains or cities with skyscraper buildings.

Sectional charts show topography along the flight path and allow pilots to adjust their cruising altitude accordingly. Commercial drone pilots can fly higher than 400 feet in order to adjust for topographical changes. However, they must remain at least 400 feet above the highest object on the terrain below. Hobbyists cannot take advantage of this exception and must maintain drones at 400 feet or less.

This information is crucial to determine the precise mechanics of the 400-foot rule for drone flight and any exceptions.

What are the rules for drone pilots who are professional or recreational?

Because it is simpler, let’s start with the altitude rule that recreational drone pilots must follow. Before the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the rules that governed recreational drone flight was simply called “guidelines,” making them prone to non-compliance. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 made it mandatory to implement the rules.

The new rules included a 400-foot limit in uncontrolled airspace and a blanket restriction in controlled airspace. Although there are now options to request authorization to fly uncontrolled airspace, it is not possible to get a waiver for the 400-foot rule. Recreational drone pilots are not permitted to fly in uncontrolled airspace.

Part 107 commercial drone pilots are subject to the same rules, with one important difference. A pilot may fly their drone over 400 feet if it is within 400 feet of a structure.

This exception was created so commercial drone pilots could offer inspections of skyscrapers, cell towers, and industrial equipment. These tall structures can still be cleared by manned aircraft, so it is perfectly acceptable for drones to fly around them at higher altitudes. These situations can also be handled by licensed drone pilots.

Are There Drones That Prohibit You From Flying Higher Than 400 Feet?

Are There Drones That Prohibit You From Flying above 400 feet?

The 400-foot rule compliance is voluntary for most drone pilots. The FAA does not have a mechanism to determine if drone pilots are licensed or not. This is fine and dandy until you have to come into contact with a manned airplane. If the FAA can identify the drone pilot, you could face severe penalties.

Most modern drones today have a default altitude setting of exactly 400 feet to comply with this rule. This distance is measured by the drone from the point at which you take off. It’s possible to fly up to 100 feet from a skyscraper and still be within 400 feet of the takeoff point. This is not a problem as this operation falls within the exception of flying close to tall structures.

This technology is most commonly seen in DJI drones such as the Mavic line. You will find that the default altitude is 120 meters (or 400 feet). If you try to fly higher than this, the drone will stop climbing and simply hover in place.

This approach doesn’t account for the presence of large structures within 400ft of the drone, which would have permitted drone flight above 400 feet. The drone doesn’t have the ability to detect or verify the presence of large structures within 400 feet of the drone, so it simply sticks to the pre-set limits.

Most drones allow for the adjustment of the maximum altitude limits. This allows drone pilots some flexibility. DJI drones allow the maximum altitude limit to be adjusted to any value from 2 to 500 meters. You will be asked to confirm that you are willing to accept any changes to the limit.

You can disable the 500-meter maximum limit if your drone has a developer kit. This is an option that is more complicated and not something you can do during a drone flight mission.

Other drone brands set different max altitude values. Autel drones can reach 800 meters, while Yuneec drones are capable of reaching 1000 meters. These limits can be changed by updating the drone firmware. This article could easily have been inaccurate. If you own a new drone, it is likely that the default altitude limit of 120 m or 400 ft has been set.

Are you allowed to fly above 400 feet?

This discussion raises the question: Is there any compelling reason to fly above the 400-foot limit. If you fly drones professionally, then there are several drone projects that will require you to alter the default altitude limit on your drone. Perhaps you are asked to take aerial photos or inspect the underside of a bridge. Both of these scenarios involve you flying in close proximity to a structure, which is a violation of both safety and legal restrictions.

What about recreational drone pilots, you ask? They seem to be the ones getting the short end when it comes to restrictions on altitude. The FAA grants Part 107-licensed drone pilots the ability to fly beyond 400 feet within close proximity if they require an exception to their drone flight service.

Recreational drone pilots, on the other hand, have no business flying near industrial equipment or communications towers, especially if they do not have authorization from the owners or operators of these essential pieces of infrastructure.

The 400-foot altitude restriction was ultimately put in place to ensure airspace safety. Although the airspace above 400 feet is vast, and there are very few chances of an aircraft running into other aircraft, the consequences of a drone colliding with a manned aircraft could be catastrophic. It is unlikely that any drone pilot would wish to cause such a tragedy.

Can A Drone Be Flown Above 400 Feet Legally?

Can A Drone Be Flown Above 400 Feet Legally?

This question is frequently asked by drone pilots all around the globe. It is legal to fly a drone over 400 feet. This is dependent on a few things.

If you are above a specific structure’s highest limit:

This information is vital for a drone pilot who wants to capture HD shots of buildings or areas at a height greater than 400 feet.

You can hover above a building or structure if you want to fly above it. Usually, this is 400 feet higher than the highest point.

If you are within 400 feet of a structure:

You can fly your drone within 400 feet of any structure or building, but you are not allowed to fly it beyond 400 feet.

The FAA understands that commercial drones can be used for film and photography purposes.

Keep in mind that a building’s 400-foot radius is the limit of your freedom. You can fly anywhere you like as long as it is uncontrolled and where there is less aircraft traffic.

Authorization and License:

To fly in controlled airspace, you will need a registration and a license to exceed the 400-foot altitude limit.

To obtain a license for unrestricted drone flying, make sure to contact the authorities we have mentioned.

Avoid manned aircraft and restricted airspace. Any accidental or reckless collision could be very detrimental to your drone piloting skills.

What Are The Penalties For Flying Your Drone Above 400 Feet?

What Are The Penalties For Flying Above 400 Feet?

If you fly your recreational or commercial drone at an altitude that exceeds the limit, there are severe penalties. The FAA classifies drones as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) according to their classification.

Here are some possible penalties and problems if you fly your drones higher than 400 feet.

Monetary Fines

You could be fined up to a certain amount depending on how dangerous or problematic your flight was.

A general violation can result in a monetary penalty of $100 to $200. If your drone flight causes a problem for other manned aircraft, you could face severe penalties of up to a thousand dollars.

Criminal Convictions

Any violation of the rules and regulations regarding drone flight could result in criminal charges.

Although it is uncommon, this can happen if someone is reckless in controlled airspace. This is because the air traffic is more than the traffic in uncontrolled areas.

Revocation of Pilot’s License/Authorization:

If someone is flying drones in controlled areas above 400 feet, the FAA can suspend or remove any type of pilot’s authorization.

They can also cancel an application for a pilot’s license for up to a year, so drone pilots won’t be able to risk any manned aircraft in controlled space because of their reckless or suspicious piloting.

If you are interested in knowing more information, check out Do You Need A Pilot’s License To Fly A Drone 2021: Top Full Guide


Can the FAA track my drone?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), just before Christmas, published a proposal that would enable them to track almost every drone flying in US airspace.

400 feet above ground is the maximum allowed altitude. If your drone stays within 400 feet of any structure, it can go higher. The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 kph).

Are drones visible on the radar?

Radar is capable of detecting drones that have a larger RCS. This allows them to be detected at greater distances than a drone that has a smaller RCS. For Phantom 4 size drones, radar systems are capable of detecting drones as far as 1 mile away. The size of the drone can affect the range. Weather conditions such as rain or fog can also affect radar detection range.


Drone communities continue to debate the altitude limit for drone flight. This “guideline” was once a suggestion for recreational drone pilots. Now, they must follow the new regulations without exception. Part 107-licensed drone pilots, on the other hand, are expected to adhere to this rule to the letter. However, they have the option of a few exceptions under certain conditions.

You may have noticed a firmware-bound function that limits the drone’s altitude. This feature is available from most reputable brands. The limit isn’t fixed – almost all drones allow you to change it, perhaps in anticipation of professional drone pilots who may need the flexibility.

Lucidcam hopes this article will be helpful for you. Please share this post if you found it helpful so that others might see its contents as well! Thank you for reading!


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