Yes, You Can Finally Fly a Drone, But …

November 8, 2016

More real estate professionals are looking to add drones into their business to capture aerial photos and videos of listings, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s final rule on commercial drone use in June. But they still need to take to the skies with caution.

At a panel session during the 2016 REALTORS® Conference and Expo in Orlando, Danielle Corbett, an FAA spokeswoman, said that the process for getting cleared to fly a drone for commercial purposes is getting less murky. Operators are required to now obtain a “part 107 certificate” – which replaced the former Section 333 waiver. That has eased the process considerably, Corbett said. Operators also no longer are required to hold a pilot’s license. That said, Corbett said that operators must take a test before flying, and they must retake that test every 24 months in order to operate a drone. Also, there are some restrictions on the number of activities you can do with a drone. For example, FAA prohibits flying a drone over a person or flying at night.

NAR is continuing to advocate for greater clarity on drone use for REALTORS®. For example, the association is stressing the need for a drone strategy that allows for “beyond visual line-of-sight” flights, and guidelines for when the drone travels beyond what an operator can physically see during an operation.

Corbett said during the session that FAA expects to release a proposed rule for extended line of sight operations, as well as for flights over people, within the next year.

Also, panelist Steve McIrvin, who heads the U.S. offices for Autel Robotics, urged those taking flight to consult their insurance agents about what kind of additional coverage they may need. Insurance companies also may require additional training and the earning of a safety certificate to use drones, added Casey King of the Unmanned Safety Institute during the session.

“Businesses are more and more finding opportunities to utilize drones as a way of cutting costs and better serving customers,” said Tom Salomone, NAR’s past president. “That’s true in real estate and other industries as well. As application of this technology picks up, the regulatory landscape will likely continue to evolve.”

Source: “As Regulatory Framework Evolves, Drone Use Remains Important to Real Estate,” NAR Newsline (Nov. 5, 2016)