Drone & UAS attorney Enrico Schaefer talks about commercial drone use, FAA regulation of UAV and Section 333 exemptions.
- Can I fly my drone for commercial purposes?
- Drone use is going to exponentially increase over next five years.
- Get a section 333 exemption to start flying now.
- It could take the FAA years to complete its drone regulations.
- There are still rules if you fly drones recreationally.
This is Enrico Schaefer from DroneLaw.pro and TraverseLegal.com, your resource for legal information and advice on commercial and recreation use of drones. Today, on five things you need to know, we are going to be talking about Drone Law.
1. Can I fly my drone for commercial purposes?
You need to know the very first thing that we want you to understand #1 is you cannot take pictures or video using drones for business purposes without a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA. What does that mean? It means that if you want to use a drone to capture video or data or pictures for your real estate business or to service real estate clients or agriculture or to sell photos, if you’ve got any commercial purpose, the FAA basically says you cannot fly for business purpose unless you have a Section 333 Exemption. So if you want to fly for business, you have to go through the FAA process of getting a Section 333, getting permission from the FAA to get out there and start flying right now.
2. Drone use is going to exponentially increase over next five years.
Lawful use of drones by businesses in films and movies, real estate, agriculture, search and rescue, inspections, these things are going to explode over the next five (5) years. Drone use is going to explode over the next five (5) years. So this market is emerging but it is going to be a very big market and there is a lot of great things you can do with drones for business, for safety, for rescue, for government purposes and they’re going to be adopted because the value proposition of using a drone to go out and monitor a traffic scene versus three or four police cars is going to be a huge cost savings. The ability to use a drone to image your crops. To be able to see how your crops are doing day-in and day-out or how healthy they are using a variety of different or special cameras to get that information is going to allow farmers to be more productive. It is going to be a tremendous return on investment there. To use a camera for something like real estate, which is something just a simple as capturing a picture or video that “speaks a thousand words”, right? If you get a great shot of someone’s home or their entire property by video by drone, that use is going to reveal tremendous return on investment because it is going to help the home owner and the real estate broker and the real estate agent so sell that house, right? The curb appeal from the sky is going to be huge. So, there is going to be a tremendous value to drones and businesses are going to implement drones for a variety of purposes and the return on investment is going to be tremendous. Okay.
3. Get a section 333 exemption to start flying now.
So the third thing you need to know about drone law is that obtaining a Section 333 Exemption right now will put you at a huge advantage over your competitors. So let’s get some context here. The FAA right now is finalizing its rules, it has put out is proposal on rule making for commercial use of drones. So there are rules out there that they have developed, the comment period for those rules is over and the FAA is analyzing all of this and at some point there are going to final rules for drone use that are going to be captured as regulations that are going to be overseen by the FAA, right?! But until those regulations are done, you can’t fly for commercial purposes. Okay. You have to wait for those regulations to be done in order to know what it is you are going to comply with unless you get a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA during this interim period of rulemaking which allows you to start flying right now. So the third thing I want you to know today is obtaining a Section 333 Exemption is going to put you at a huge advantage over your competitors, who either 1) wait or 2) rely on vendors to provide them with drone related services, photography, video and data collection. Right! So that is the other thing, you can go out and wait for someone else to call you up and say, “Hey, we will charge you a couple thousand dollars if you want to hire us to get drone video or pictorial footage” but why not do it yourself. The way the Section 333 Exemption is set up, you can start using that exemption the FAA grants you. You can go out and hire a pilot and handle it all internally and have a huge cost savings over relying on vendors to provide that service.
4. It could take years before the FAA is done with Commercial drone regulations.
The fourth thing you need to know. It could take years before the FAA finishes its regulations for commercial drone use. Right now it is expected that in the next 12 to 18 months, the FAA may make a decision on the proposed rules it has out there for commercial drone use. But if they make changes, it could start the process all over again. If there are significant changes to the rules that they have proposed based on public comment or things that are actually happening out there in the real world that they haven’t accounted for, then they are going to have to start from scratch and go through the administrative rule making process and that is going to take years. So getting a Section 333 Exemption right now and starting to use drones for your business right now, again is going to put you in a really strong position in terms of market and in terms of competitors.
5. There are still rules and regulations if you fly your drone for recreational purposes.
The fifth thing I want you to know today is that even if you use your drone for recreational purposes, you can still get in trouble with the FAA if you fly recklessly. So right now the way the rules work is that you cannot fly for commercial or business purpose without a Section 333 Petition and Exemption. You can fly right now for recreational purposes so long as you aren’t trying to make money or as long as you don’t have a business or commercial interest in the drone flight, you’re not trying to sell the videos or use the videos to promote your business then you can go ahead and fly recreational or as a hobbyist. You can do that right now. But just because the FAA allows recreational drone use right now, doesn’t mean that there are no rules. There are rules. Safety first! You need to think safety, so here are some things you need to know about recreational drone use. One is you should not be flying over people or crowds. You shouldn’t fly over anyone that is not related to your flight. That isn’t part of your flight. The other thing is you should be checking the weather. You should not fly near power lines. You certainly should not fly above 200 feet or so. Certainly not by airports. You should make sure that the person who is flying the craft has experience and they always have the unmanned vehicle in their sight. That is to say, you should fly within line of sight, meaning you can always see the drone. Don’t go behind trees, don’t go behind houses, and don’t go so far away you cannot see the drone. The only way for you to keep the drone from hitting something else or hitting someone else is to make sure you can see it at all times.
So those are our five things you need to know about drone use for today. This is a drone attorney, Enrico Schaefer, and we will see you next time.