Public entities, include publically funded universities, law enforcement, fire departments and other government agencies. These entities may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA in order to use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in public aircraft operations.

Who can obtain a COA to operate public aircraft?

  • Only government entities, such as federal and state government agencies, law enforcement, public colleges, universities can receive a COA for public UAS aircraft operations.
  • Public aircraft operations must be conducted for a governmental function.
  • COAs are most commonly issued to public (government) entities, but are also required for civil (private) operations.
  • The FAA thoroughly evaluates each COA application to determine the safety of the proposal.
  • COAs are issued for a specific period of time, usually two years, and include special provisions unique to each proposal, such as a defined block of airspace and time of day sUAS can be used.

How can I apply for a COA?

  • Visit the FAA website for information on how to apply for a COA online.
  • A sample application can be viewed here.
  • The average COA processing time is less than 60 days.
  • Expedited authorization is available in emergency and life-threatening situations.
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