Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made a big announcement and unveiled "Part 107". This hightly anticipated ruling advances a new set of rules to govern the use of drones by commercial operators. This is huge for real estate and architectural photographers, but I just wanted to let the dust settle before I gave my 2 cents.
Before yesterday anybody using drone for profit — from real estate agents to surveyors to photographers — had to have a pilot's license and apply for a Section 333 Exemption, which only a handful of people had done in Colorado (none in Northern Colorado). The updated regulatory framework replaces that license with a knowledge test and certificate specific to flying a drone — allowing companies a much cheaper, faster, and simpler path to getting in the air.
This does make it significantly easier to use a drone for commercial purposes, but there are still certain conditions that need to be met in order to LEGALLY operate a drone and get paid. Briefly:
• FAA waiver must be submitted via an online portal if operating outside of Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace need ATC approval.
• The person operating the drone must have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate.
•The drone must also be registered with the FAA. Numbers need to be displayed on the drone.
•For a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate.
I'm a big fan of this new ruling; however, I'm a bit disappointed that carrying liability insurance isn't mandatory under Part 107. I understand, insurance that covers drone mishaps isn't cheap, but ask yourself, can you afford not to in case something goes wrong?