A Tucson, Arizona Relator has found that Federal Aviation Administration permission to fly a drone comes with strings attached.
On Jan. 5, Douglas Trudeau was granted an exemption to fly his PHANTOM 2 Vision+ quad-copter to take aerial video of houses he is trying to sell, but only if he follows 33 restrictions ranging from record keeping to health checks.
The permission to operate the roughly $1,000 remote controlled aircraft makes him the first realtor in the United States to be able to legally fly a drone for business purposes.
Hobbyists can operate the same small aircraft up to 400 feet in most areas, but any commercial use requires special FAA dispensation.
The specific requirements Trudeau must follow are laid out in a 26 page letter from John Duncan, the Director of the FAA’s Flight Standards Service.
“Failure to comply with any of the conditions and limitations of this grant of exemption will be grounds for the immediate suspension or rescission of this exemption,” he writes.
Anyone flying the remote controlled aircraft must have the same pilot’s license and pass the same medical checks that are required to fly manned general aviation aircraft.
The aircraft “must be operated within visual line of sight… of the Pilot In Command (PIC) at all times,” the requirements state. “All operations must utilize a visual observer (VO)… The VO and PIC must be able to communicate verbally at all times.”
The operator must also request permission for each flight at least two days in advance, limit speeds to less than 35 miles per hour, altitudes to 300 feet above ground, and only allow flights in the day, away from clouds.
Individual exemptions to allow commercial use of remote controlled aircraft is the beginning of a larger effort by the FAA to integrate the increasingly common drones into the national airspace.
“The FAA is taking an incremental approach to safe UAS integration,” the agency says on its website. “Introducing UAS into the nation’s airspace is challenging for both the FAA and aviation community, because the U.S. has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world.”