Drones in Class E Airspace

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I am trying to sort out some conflicting information, so perhaps someone here can help me out.

I understand that "Class E to the ground, if associated with a airport" cannot be flown in without ATC authorization.

I also understand that "Class E to the ground, if associated only with an approach" can be blown in without ATC authorization.

I have confirmed both of these statements in AirMap.

This seems to indicate that there are times when the regulations allow drown flights in Class E if certain conditions exist.

I learned of this on a Remotepilot101.com video.

Now, on a Remotepolot101.com YouTube video (who's opinion i respect), they are discussing a tower inspection of a 889 ft AGL tower. They explain that the regulation is that if you stay within 400 ft of the tower, you can fly up to 400 ft above that tower. However, since the tower is in an area where Class E starts at 1200 feet AGL, if you flew 400 feet above the tower you would go into Class E, so therefore, in this instance, you can only go 310 feet above the tower to avoid the Class E.

I have heard from other sources, that you can "punch into' Class E on a tall tower inspection.

I don't want to start an argument about whether it a good idea, in either situation, to fly in Class E. I just want to have a clear understanding of the Law. My assumption is, that Remote Pilot knows what they are talking about in both instances but i am a little confused. The Part 107 law on the lateral boundaries of Class E at the airport is pretty clear and I am comfortable with that one. Just not the tower inspection.
 

BigAl07

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@N42742 might be able to help shed some light on your questions here. He's with Gold Seal UAV Ground School.
 
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BigAl07

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"Class E to the ground, if associated only with an approach" can be blown in without ATC authorization.
I'm not sure this is correct. Whether it is due to airport vicinity or approach, I don't see any distinction in the FAA regulations for drones. The AIM does make that distinction for ultralights, unmanned balloons, and parachute jumps, but no mention of drones. One would think that logically it should also apply to drones, but I never make assumptions. Also, yes your sources are trusted and well regarded but unless I see it in writing from the FAA then I don't go with what someone else says.

Now, on a Remotepolot101.com YouTube video (who's opinion i respect), they are discussing a tower inspection of a 889 ft AGL tower. They explain that the regulation is that if you stay within 400 ft of the tower, you can fly up to 400 ft above that tower. However, since the tower is in an area where Class E starts at 1200 feet AGL, if you flew 400 feet above the tower you would go into Class E, so therefore, in this instance, you can only go 310 feet above the tower to avoid the Class E.
In all other controlled airspace the floor is always a HARD limit unless you have specific authorization or a waiver. Again I see no FAA documents stating that you can make an incursion into Class E airspace in the case of a tower inspection. Yes as a Part 107 flight you can fly up 400 feet above the top of a structure as long as you are within 400 feet laterally of that structure, AS LONG AS you do not penetrate any controlled airspace. In the case of your 889 foot tower, your maximum altitude would still be 1200 AGL and not 1289.

I am not saying that I have the definitive answer but this is my understanding. When in question I always refer to the FAA regulations and documents. If I don't see it there, I don't take anyone else's word on it.
 
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Thanks Big A, I suspected this was the case, but to have a noted flight school contradict it gave me pause. Thanks a lot.

Here is where I got confused. It looks like Gold Seal has the best information.

 
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This may give a better understanding of class E surface extensions and when you need authorization.
That is a nice explanation. It seems that a Drone School, bringing in untold thousands of dollars from students, would get that information right, or at least change it when they find out they are wrong. Oh well, at least we know the right answer. Thanks.
 

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That is a nice explanation. It seems that a Drone School, bringing in untold thousands of dollars from students, would get that information right, or at least change it when they find out they are wrong. Oh well, at least we know the right answer. Thanks.

I think you hit on a very important subject matter. Unfortunately this isn't the first time I've heard the same thing about that school and there is another UAS school close to me that we've noted many times giving very inaccurate information to students.

Re: The local UAS school -I've called them out 2x myself and I've seen them called out several times by others in the industry. They always "try" to argue their point but each time they simply "ghosted" instead of admitting their error and apologizing.

Fortunately the majority of what they are teaching is correct otherwise their students would not be passing their tests.
 
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Yes I think within 400’ (Above and to the side) of said tower you’re good to go (you may or may not need ATC approval depending on airports in the vicinity and if they are controlled or not. However, I doubt my old peepers would let me keep the drone in visual site So I’ll leave those jobs to you!

I’ve flown quite close to uncontrolled airports... it’s a weird feeling.

I’ve never had to request airspace authorization for a job above 400’ AGL like in your scenario. If I use airmap and request such a job and say my max height is 1,200 feet, can you get immediate authorization for that? Or would that be a delayed authorization?
 

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Thanks for posting the Gold Seal video. This one has been a big bone of contention for some time. The RemotePilot101 video has it wrong. I know they tried to justify it in their YouTube comments, but this piece of misinformation, unfortunately, has now spread far and wide.
 

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