The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its “Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule” or commonly known as “drones”. Realtors have had a strong interest in using this technology in connection with their real estate businesses in the form of access to the potential for enhanced aerial photography. A small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is a remotely controlled aircraft, weighing less than 55 pounds, designed to hover and maneuver over property.
The final rule encompasses much of what was contained in the proposed rule, and the National Association of Realtors is pleased with the overall outcome. The rule will lead to more predictability in the market for drone-based services and will create a broader base of trained operators and service providers. Specifically, the new rule:
1. Educational Provision: New certification for ‘remote pilot in command’ authority which is less burdensome than a pilot’s license. The FAA will require testing of drone operators which will be preparation for the test, administered at the FAA testing centers. Preparation for the test will take about 20 hours of study time. Operators will still need to pass a background check performed by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
2. Flight Operations Permitted: Flights may be conducted during daylight hours, within visual line of sight, not directly over non-participants, at an altitude limit of 400’, and a 100 MPH max speed.
3. Many of the operational requirements can be waived, which leaves room for innovation and experimentation with the technology.
4. No provisions for notice to bystanders. This could present problems for operations in more dense areas, but REALTORS® can work with UAS service provider to find solutions.
The new Rule will go into effect in August 2016.