Can you do aerial night-time photos?
The FAA doesn’t allow night drone (or sUAS, acronym for ‘small unmanned aerial systems’) operations without a specific waiver. However, flying the aircraft in the 30 minute window before official sunrise, and up to 30 minutes after official sunset is just fine!
Is it illegal to operate drones commercially?
It is only illegal to operate commercially if you do not have the proper licensing. In August 2016, the new FAA regulations (part 107) went into effect. Anyone operating drones commercially is required to have the proper certification and regulatory requirements in place. We have a required part 107 license, keeping us (and therefore our clients) in compliance with these regulations.
What is considered ”commercial” drone operation?
The FAA considers anything tied to income as commercial operation. This includes a realtor using drone footage for a listing. Even if the realtor is not directly getting paid for the flight, the ultimate purpose is to earn income through the sale of the home. Basically if you are flying for any purpose other than hobby or recreation, it is commercial use and you must be licensed, and comply with commercial regulations.
How high can your aircraft fly?
The FAA guidelines state that UAS devices can fly no higher than 400 feet AGL (above ground level) without a certificate of waiver from the FAA. An exception is that when photographing a structure, it is allowable for us to fly up to 400 feet above the top of the structure. It is very rare that exceeding 400 feet would be needed.
Are you allowed fly near airports?
It depends upon the airport. Some will require approval from the FAA and/or the local Air Traffic Control tower, and some will not. It depends upon the classification of airspace in the intended flight area. Airspace requirements are verified before planning flights. Integrating drones into the national airspace is not to be taken lightly. Rules must be observed, to ensure the safety of everyone in the air, or on the ground, who might be injured as a result of a mid-air incident.
How long can you fly?
Typical flight time is 20-28 minutes on a single battery, depending upon wind and weather conditions. Multiple batteries are always on hand, to be sure we maintain the capability to get the required shots in.
Can you fly over crowds of people?
FAA regulations state that you cannot fly a UAS over anyone not involved in the flight operation (such as the remote pilot and a visual observer). This includes flying at stadiums, sporting events, or over crowds of people. Some of these restrictions can be exempted on a per-flight basis, but for our purposes, we would not be doing anything needing such an exemption.