A Quick Read for Realtors Using Drones
So. You are a realtor. You’re seeing your competition sharing these amazing aerial videos and images of their listed properties. You hear the positive feedback on this unique drone imaging sales technique and you want to get your own little piece of that pie. You run to your computer, type in Amazon.com, find a nifty little drone that you think you can handle and, boom!, you’re in the game. Easy, right?
Not so fast. What you should have done first was type in FAA.gov. Why? Because the very moment you launched that little bird into the sky to capture that beautiful footage of your client’s property, you were instantly transported into the “flying for commercial gain” landscape. And that landscape – relative to drones – is the SOLE dominion of the FAA. See, in order to legally (key word, here) operate a drone weighing less than 55lbs commercially, you MUST HAVE what is known as a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification (or be operating under the direct supervision of someone who has one). This is the law and, unfortunately, it is one which is often ignored due, mostly, to the lack of awareness by drone operators.
According to the FAA, there are two classifications of drone operators – hobbyists and commercial. Hobbyists have a very general set of guidelines that they must adhere to that can all be found here – chief among them is this: Don’t fly for money or in the promotion of a commercial transaction or the furtherance of a business. Commercial operators, on the other hand, have a very specific set of guidelines by which they must adhere – including not flying commercially without that Part 107 Certification.
On top of the general need to become trained and certified, one of the biggest mistakes that uncertified drone operators make is having no understanding of the airspace within which they are operating. For example, did you know that ALL of the outlying towns around Manchester-Boston Regional Airport are in what is known as “Class C airspace” and that you MUST have a specific waiver OR wide area authorization from the FAA to operate commercially within this airspace? And yet we see so many realty listings from uncertified operators performed within these towns because they simply are not aware that there are very serious federal-level regulations governing these operations.
Finally, did you check with your business insurance to see if you are covered in the event that your drone damages property or, heaven forbid, causes an injury to a bystander? I can almost absolutely guarantee you that you are not. 99% of general business insurance DOES NOT cover the operation of drones commercially. There are very specific companies who engage in this type of insurance for trained and certified aerial service providers like us.
So what is the point in all this? Easy: Don’t put yourself and your realty license on the hook for performing illegal operations in the course of engaging in your chosen business. Hire a professional, trained, and certified drone operations company to handle this work for you. We take all the risk and you can focus on your business!
Jeremy Jones is the founder of 603 Media Group and 603 Drones, LLC. He is a FAA Part 107 pilot and has experience flying multiple Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) platforms in commercial applications. He is also versed in both state and federal regulations as they relate to commercial vs hobbyist sUAS operations and helps new remote pilots to navigate these very tricky subjects.