For several years, I have been asked if I do Drone Photography. And for years, my answer has been "I will when it's legal!" That day has come, but there are many facts of which Real Estate Agents should be aware.
The reality is that there are many, many drone operators who have been taking Real Estate photos using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) for years. Up until recently, the laws on the subject were muddy, to say the least. However, that changed on August 29th, 2016 when Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107 went into effect. This is the federal rule governing the commercial use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles up to 55 pounds in size. Thanks to this legislation, the rules are very clear cut and easy to understand. With the proper training and authorization, photographers are now allowed to shoot aerial photos using a drone for commercial purposes. What are these new rules? To view the FAA's synopsis, click here. What follows will give you the general idea:
- Remote Pilot in Command must hold a Remote Airman Certificate, issued by the FAA, after having proven aeronautical knowledge by passing the Unmanned Airman General Exam.
- Drone must be registered with the FAA with a Small UAS Certificate of Registration, with FAA registration numbers clearly printed on the drone itself.
- Flight must be under 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if flying at an altitude higher than 400 feet AGL, stay within 400 feet of a structure
- Pilot must keep the UAS in sight (i.e. visual line of sight), either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer*
- Flights must happen during daylight hours or civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
- Speed not to exceed 100mph
- UAV's must yield right of way to manned aircraft
- May not fly over people
- Not allowed to fly from a moving vehicle unless you are in a sparsely populated area
and...here's the most important rule:
- Not permitted to fly within any Class B, C, D or E airspace without the permission of Air Traffic Control. Class G airspace does not require Air Traffic Control permission.
As a Real Estate Agent, you are not expected to know if your listing is within controlled airspace. But the drone photographer you hire is required to know that. Make sure that your photographer is FAA certified (we are!) and ask them pointedly in what type of airspace your listing is located, and if drone photos can legally be taken of the home.
To view the entire text of Title 14 of the CFR, Part 107, click here.