While speculation regarding commercial drones has been running rampant for some time in the real estate industry, the Federal Aviation Administration has finally begun to release approval for drones to take to the sky. The FAA has already approved approximately 1,300 individuals and businesses to use drones for a variety of business purposes. Those purposes include everything from inspecting utility lines to photographing real estate.
Drones are controlled with a device that looks similar to a video game controller and are equipped with small video cameras that are capable of taking photos and transmitting images to an iPad or laptop. Commercial drones offer a tremendous amount of potential for numerous industries, particularly the real estate industry.
Safety Concerns for Drone Usage Delaying Approval
To date, the FAA has remained hesitant in terms of providing approval for the use of commercial drones. This is in large part due to concerns regarding the potential for incidents occurring between aircraft and drones. According to the FAA, aircraft pilots have reported more than 700 drone sightings in a year. The FAA is particularly concerned about the use of unmanned aircraft by users with relatively little or no experience. For the recreational users purchasing drones from hobby shops, it is vital to become educated regarding the various and stringent restrictions, which include not operating a drone within 5 miles of an airport. Operators must also ensure that drones remain below 400 feet. Failure to adhere to those regulations can be serious and include fines of up to tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison, commercial users must hire a pilot in order to operate their drones to ensure that close encounters do not occur.
Industries Still Awaiting Final Regulations for Drone Usage from the FAA
The FAA is still composing rules to regulate the use of drones. With that said, the agency has begun to expedite the process for approving exemptions that would allow drone flights under 200 feet in locations that are not restricted airspace. Because of that new policy, the FAA has already provided clearance for more than 1,000 companies to incorporate drones into their businesses. Under those exemptions, the FAA hopes to provide legal operators of drones with a competitive advantage while discouraging the illegal operation of drones that could create safety issues.
Recently, the FAA provided approval for a fleet of more than 300 commercial drones. This is the largest fleet ever approved by the FAA at one time. Approval was provided to Measure. The firm petitioned the FAA for approval to use the drones for aerial data acquisition.
The FAA has stated it is working to integrate drones seamlessly into U.S. national airspace, but that does take time. According to a report issued by the Government Accounting Office, the final ruling for drones from the FAA may not be released until late next year or even early the following year.