It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s a drone! The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced proposed rules that will allow certain unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to take to the skies for commercial use.
The proposed rules are designed to protect public safety by requiring drone operators to keep unmanned aircraft a safe distance from people on the ground as well as steering clear from other flying aircraft. “Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Under the proposed rules, drone use would be limited to unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 lbs., the operator must maintain direct eye contact with the drone at all times and the drone cannot fly over people on the ground, among other rules. “The proposed rules announced today for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles are good news for property owners and Realtors® who desire to embrace cutting-edge technology to enhance the process of buying and selling real estate with images gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles,” noted Chris Polychron, president, National Association Realtors®. But before your drone can take off operators must first obtain an aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating from the FAA. This entails passing an initial written aeronautical exam followed by a recurrent exam every 24 months at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center as well as other licensing requirements.
Drones have the potential to change the way real estate agents and brokers market properties and these rules, when finalized, will pave the way for the emerging drone industry to spread its wings. With its ability to show buyers and sellers a birds-eye view of properties, agents who use drones could gain a competitive real estate advantage. Last month, Doug Trudeau, a real estate agent with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, reportedly became the real estate industry’s first drone operator when the FAA granted him an exemption to fly a drone for real estate photography purposes. About a dozen other companies in a variety of industries were also granted an exemption for commercial drone use.