After sitting on pins and needles for much of the last year, the commercial real estate industry has finally received the long awaited proposed rules for drone usage from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA released the rules last month to potentially allow for the use of small commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Under the rules, drones could only be used by individuals who have received flying certification and guidance regarding height, speed, and times at which the drones could be flown. The subject of drone usage has proven to be a hot topic of conversation in the real estate industry, with many real estate professionals looking forward to the opportunity to utilize drones for taking aerial photos of properties. While the rules were not released until last month, that has not stopped many real estate professionals from using the drones in the past for aerial photography, despite warnings from the FAA. The FFA has finally begun to ease the barrier on drone usage and has even issued a limited number of exemptions.
FAA Rules Not Yet Final
While the FAA has now finally released the proposed rules, industry organizations have been quick to point out that the proposed rules are just that; proposed. They have not become final and until they do, real estate professionals have been cautioned against using drones for capturing video or photos without receiving an exemption from the FAA.
The commercial real estate industry could be in store for a long wait for the proposed rules to actually become final, as they are now open for public comment and could be subject to potential revisions in the future. In all, it could take as long as two years until the rules actually become effective.
What Is in the Proposed FAA Rules
Covered under the rules are drones weighing up to 55 pounds. The FAA has indicated that it is also considering issuing additional rules that would cover drones that weigh less than 4.4 pounds, referred to as microdrones.
Based on the proposed rules issued by the FAA, commercial drones would not be allowed to fly higher than a height of 500 feet and would not be allowed to exceed 100 mph. Additionally, drones could only be flown during the day and would need to remain within a visual line of sight of the operator. Operators would need to ensure that their UAVs were registered. In order to be permitted to fly drones, operators would also need to pass a test to receive a flying permit and that permit would need to renewed every two years. Additionally, operators could be subject to TSA background checks. In the event of an accident, operators would need to report any property damage or injuries within 10 days.
While the commercial real estate industry has been anxious for the proposed rules to be released, the FAA has maintained a cautious stance regarding the use of drones for commercial purposes. Much of that caution has stemmed from reports regarding airline interference.