Flying Drones over Crowds or Densely Populated Neighborhoods.
Everyone wants to use their drone to take video or pictures of events such as races, weddings, festivals, gatherings and similar group functions. The FAA does not allow commercial UAS operations over anyone who is not part of the flight. So the question becomes: “Can I use a drone to fly over a crowd?”
The issue about whether or not you can fly your UAS/drone over third parties who are not part of the flight is one that will be hotly explored over the next many months. You can already find instances of companies with Section 333 Exemptions who are, in fact, offering “event drone services”. It is unclear what those event operators or Section 333 Permit holders are doing to try and comply with the FAA’s regulations about flying over crowds.
Section 333 Exemptions Generally Preclude Flights Over Crowds.
Currently, the FAA is issuing Section 333 Exemptions which contain a large number of flight and operational restrictions and limitations. Our drone attorneys and experts will help you craft a flight plan and operation which reduces the risk of violating FAA regulations when flying over events and in dense downtown areas where neighbors are closer than 500 feet. One such limitation in Section 333 Exemptions granted by the FAA is
“All Flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all participating persons, vessels, vehicles and structures unless:
(a). Barriers or structures are present that sufficiently protect nonparticipating persons from the UAS and/or debris in the event of an accident. The operator must ensure that nonparticipating persons remain under such protection. If a situation arises where nonparticipating persons leave such protection and are within 500 feet of the UAS, flight operations must cease immediately in a manner ensuring the safety of nonparticipating persons; and
(b). the owner/controller of any vessels, vehicles or structures has granted permission for operating closer to those objects and the PIC has made a safety assessment of the risk of operating closer to those objects and determined that it does not present an undue hazard.”
Here are some articles discussing the limitation of commercial drone flights over people, events and crowds:
- FAA Tells Drone Pilots to Avoid Flying Over People.
- “UAS Safety Campaign” – Don’t operate near people or crowds.
Are you an event photographer or real estate agent/broker looking to fly in neighborhoods or over crowds? Our attorneys at Traverse Legal, PLC can help you navigate this tricky issue. Contact one of our drone attorneys today for more information.