Recently, one of our employees came in with a drone and we’ve had a little bit of fun with it and included some of that footage on our Instagram and Facebook. We’ve had a lot of interest and have met some other drone enthusiasts because of it. We have also had some questions from others not sure about drone usage regulations and licensing. We thought we’d do a short piece on a few of the things we found to be of interest or importance.
Does my hobby drone need to be registered?
Not anymore! At least if you aren’t flying it for commercial use. From 2015 to early 2017 the FAA had drone registration rules in place that restricted how non-commercial hobby drone operators flew. A federal court in Washington D.C. ruled that they were in violation of a law passed by Congress in 2012, so as of May 2017 your drone does not need to be registered if you are just using it for fun. You still need to follow some basic rules that we’ll get into below, but no registration. Then again, that could change back at anytime. So be aware of the regulations in your area.
What about for commercial use?
Short answer… yes. Although FAA regulations are fairly blurry about what commercial use exactly means, if you use your drone for commercial filming you not only need to register the drone, but you need to obtain a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) certification (Part 107) and pass an FAA test.
But what exactly is commercial use? Again, the FAA lists a few things worth mentioning, but in our research we could not find case where the FAA acted against a drone operator or specifically defined commercial use other than a few guidelines, including:
- Selling photos or videos taken from the UAV
- Using the UAV to provide contractual services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
- Using the UAV to provide professional services like security or telecommunications
- Using the UAV to monitor the progress of work your company is performing
- Using the UAV for mapping or land surveys
- Professional real estate or wedding photography
- Professional cinema photography for film or television production
What else do I need to know?
Whether flying commercially or for fun, you still need to follow some operating rules to be safe. Here they are (you can see the detailed FAA summary here.):
- Fly under 400 feet above ground level
- Keep the UAV in visual line of sight by either pilot or a visual observer
- Fly only during daylight hours
- Fly at or below 100mph
- Yield right of way to manned aircraft
- Do not fly directly overhead of non-participating individuals
- Do not interfere with emergency response crews or fly directly over an emergency area
- Do not fly directly over non-participating stadiums or sports events
- Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area
In other words, fly safe and don’t be stupid.
Fly safe and use common sense.
Flying your drone is a ton of fun and also gives you a perspective you can’t capture from the ground level. By following the FAA guidelines and being courteous of others, you can defuse conflict and make your flying time more enjoyable for you and everyone around you. If you’re looking to get licensed and registered for commercial drone use, there is a ton of information online for classes, pretests and schools. We love to meet new drone enthusiasts, so share your footage and let us know your thoughts!
We leave you with some UAV crashes.