What Is a Drone?
Drone is a nickname given to any aircraft in the category of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) weighing less than 55 lbs. Almost all models are capable of carrying a payload, usually a camera which captures images and/or video. Many models offer the ability to “live stream” the media from the camera to the operator on the ground in real time. The cost to operate the units is much less than an airplane or helicopter and therefore we can offer images and video at a lower cost. It also saves on resources such as fuel and aircraft maintenance and even reduces emissions since UAS devices run off batteries.
Is It Legal to Operate Drones Commercially?
No. It is only illegal to operate commercially if you do not have the proper licensing. All of our UAS operators are licensed pilots and have an FAA Section 333 Exemption and/or a Part 107 UAS Airman Certificate. On August 29, 2016, the new FAA regulations (part 107) went into effect. Please refer to the chart at the bottom of this page for more information. Anyone operating drones commercially is required to have the proper certifications and regulatory requirements in place.
What is Considered Commercial Drone Operation?
The FAA considers anything tied to income as commercial operation. This includes a realtor using drone footage for a listing. Even if the realtor is not directly getting paid for the flight, the ultimate purpose is to earn income through the sale of the home. Basically if you are flying for any purpose other than hobby or recreation, it is commercial use.
How High Can You Fly?
The FAA guidelines state that UAS devices can fly no higher than 400 feet without a Certificate of Waiver from the FAA. Most of the time we don’t need to get above 200 feet to capture the subject so this is usually not an issue. An example of a valid reason to petition for permission to exceed the standard 400′ height restriction would be for wind turbine inspection since some of them are close to 400′ tall with the blades.
Can You Fly at Night?
No, but it can be approved under part 107. Night flying presents a number of dangers. The FAA guidelines state that UAS devices can only fly between sunrise and sunset unless an exemption is granted from this rule.
Can You Fly Near Airports?
It depends on the airport. Some require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and/or the local Air Traffic Control tower (ATC) and some do not. Contact us with the address of your project and we can find out for you.
How Long Can You Fly the Drones?
Our Drones can operate for for up to 25 minutes on a single battery depending on the aircraft we use, the wind speed, and other conditions. Each of our units have multiple batteries in order to extend flight time with additional 20-25 minutes flight time.
Can You Fly Over People or Crowds of People?
The FAA guidelines state that you cannot fly a UAS over anyone not involved in the flight operation. This includes flying at stadiums, sporting events, wildfires, or over crowds of people, including first responders at the scene of an incident. Some of these restrictions can be exempted on a per-flight basis but requires a valid reason.
Can You Fly Indoors?
Yes and no. While the FAA frowns upon it, it is technically possible. We do not recommend it however, It is dangerous both to people and property and drones can only be flown in manual mode indoors (no GPS) which can be unpredictable. Since the FAA prohibits flying over people that is also a limiting factor. We have other options for interior video including elevated cameras, gimbal stabilized cameras, and fluid head tripods.
Nothing on this page should be taken as legal advice, and should be verified with the appropriate regulatory agency.