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FAA FAR 107 states, "The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet above the ground, and higher if your drone remains within 400 feet of a structure."

Are there any exceptions to this rule that would allow a drone to be flown at a much higher altitude than 400ft AGL or within 400ft proximity of a tall structure?

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    $\begingroup$ It tells you right on the page you linked: "unless you’re flying for commercial purposes and have obtained a written permission from the regulating bodies." $\endgroup$ – fooot Jul 5 '18 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ It goes to show a little research pays off. See the answer below... $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jul 6 '18 at 3:44
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As they say with any regulation, there’s a waiver for everything. If you do wish to operate your sUAS at or above 400’ AGL, you are advised to contact the local FSDO in your area. Protocol varies from area to area, but you will be required to file an request with local ATC with the dates, times and areas you intend to operate in so NOTAMS can be issued.

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YES, models my be flown to any height by "Academy of Model Aaeronautics" members under guidelines of a "safety program".

In January of 2016 the AMA requested that the FAA clarify the 400-foot issue in writing. The FAA's response recognized AMA’s role as a "community-based organization" and acknowledged the AMA safety program, including allowing flight above 400 feet under appropriate circumstance.

In this letter, dated July 7, 2016, the FAA states:

"…model aircraft may be flow consistently with Section 336 and agency guidelines at altitudes above 400 feet when following a community-based organization’s safety guidelines."

"Community-based organizations, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may establish altitude limitations in their safety guidelines that exceed the FAA’s 400 AGL altitude recommendation."

This letter confirms that sailplanes, large model aircraft, turbines, and other model aircraft can legally operate above 400 feet if the AMA member is operating within the AMA safety program. The FAA acknowledges AMA as a community-based organization.

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  • $\begingroup$ To add to this answer, the AMA’s guidelines only state that the 400 foot limitation only applies within 3 miles of an airport. “When within three (3) miles of an airport, model aircraft should remain below 400 feet above the ground unless there is notification or an agreement with the airport that allows models to safely go higher.” - From the AMA Safety Handbook $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jul 6 '18 at 23:00

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