With the advent of UAV’S in today’s exciting real-estate market there are a few questions about what constitutes legal drone photography.
There are numerous UAV operators in the local Austin, San Antonio and Houston areas and many of them are operating under the radar so to speak. In order to be a legal operator there are a few things an operator must have. Outlined below are those items.
1.) The operator or business must have an exemption known as a (“333”) exemption from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). This is a lengthy and detailed process which involves detailed rules and regulations set forth by the operator and the FAA.
2.) The operator of the UAV (drone) MUST be a licensed pilot. The operator must hold at least a private pilot’s license from the FAA and be current. “Current” means the pilot has demonstrated his or her proficiency via a flight review and has met their required takeoff and landing requirements within the last 90 days.
3.) Prior to each UAV flight, the legal drone operator must file a NOTAM (notice to airmen) at least 24 hours to, but not more than 72 hours prior to each and every flight. This identifies the operator and where he or she is operating and provides general aviation pilots as well as commercial airline pilots advanced notice that a UAV will be operating in the area. This is a HUGE concern for the FAA as there have been too many close calls with UAVS.
4.) A legal UAV operator MUST have their UAV registered with the FAA. This is the same registration requirement that is in effect for aircraft both commercial and general. Registration is the (N) number seen on the tail section of all general and commercial aircraft.
5.) There are specific FAA rules regarding locations that a commercial UAV operator must follow each time he or she operates.
a) 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
b) 3 NM from an airport having a published instrument flight procedure, but not having an operational control tower; or
c) 2 NM from an airport not having a published instrument flight procedure or an operational control tower; or
d) 2 NM from a heliport
6.) In most cases, The UAV is limited to a flight level of only 400 feet above the ground.
What does all this mean?
A legal UAV operator will have done their homework on the legalities of operating their business. He or she won’t risk all their hard work by operating illegally in any manner.
A legal UAV operator will provide their customers with a copy of their FAA 333 exemption so the customer can feel at ease that they’re also operating legally. Why would a customer, whether they are a Real Estate company, a Developer or a general consumer hire an illegal operator and take on the liability in case there’s a mishap or malfunction with the UAV that causes injury or property damage not to mention having to answer to the FAA why they hired an illegal operator. One can search online and find numerous instances regarding the ramifications of hiring illegal UAV operators.
In a nutshell:
There are many Legal UAV operators in our area as well as many illegal operators. When you decide to hire one for your business or a personal event it’s to your benefit to hire a legal and reputable operator.