Commercial Drone Regulation Explained for Marketers

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  • 9/12/2016
    This article is intended as an overview of 14 CFR Part 107 and how it affects marketers. This is NOT a comprehensive summary of the rule. This article should NOT be considered legal advice in any way. For specific legal questions, contact an experienced lawyer.
    By now, you’ve probably heard of or even seen reasonably priced, easy to fly drones that you can purchase for around $1,000 and put in the air relatively easily. While this is true, there’s more you need consider if you’re flying commercially.
    Aside from leisure, public service or educational purposes (NOTE these uses have their own set of regulations not discussed here), if you are profiting in any way from the operation (aka most of you), as of August 29, 2016, you must comply with 14 CFR Part 107. These are the newly enacted regulations set forth by the FAA and the DOT that govern commercial use of sUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. Failure to comply can result in hefty civil and criminal fines as well as possible jail time.
    Two of the baseline compliance requirements are having a Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating from the FAA and clear a TSA background check. This is achieved by passing an airman knowledge exam, which takes nearly 20 hours to prepare for. Every operation needs at least one person, known as the Remote Pilot in Command (PIC), with this certificate.

    The Remote PIC holds most of the compliance responsibility. Below are some (but not all) of the requirements for complying under 14 CFR Part 107 as quoted from the FAA's website. All of these rules can be waived with prior FAA application and approval.
    • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)
    • Must fly under 400 feet
    • Must fly during the day
    • Must fly at or below 100 mph
    • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft
    • Must NOT fly over people
    • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle
    • Class G Airspace* (Uncontrolled airspace, not in the vicinity of an airport)
    The Remote PIC is also responsible for ensuring proper maintenance of the aircraft, inspecting the aircraft before flight, logging maintenance and operation, obtaining aviation weather reports, surveying the area of the proposed operation, investigating any airspace restrictions, ensuring the crew is not under the influence, reporting accidents in accordance with FAA requirements and generally determining that the operation is safe prior to and during flight, among other things.
    The FAA’s main concern is safety. A 10-pound drone colliding with the wing of a Boeing-747 CAN TAKE DOWN THE 747! This is especially a concern when flying in controlled airspace in the vicinity of an airport. A certified Remote PIC may fly in controlled airspace with prior FAA and Air Traffic Control (ATC) authorization with special considerations. One being that the Remote PIC monitor air traffic visually and by tuning into the specific radio frequency used by manned pilots communicating with that airport. Prior to operation, the Remote PIC must consult with sectional charts and research TFRs when planning the operation. TFRs are time-based, temporary flight restrictions for things like professional sporting events, air shows and VIP transports. Below is a sample sectional chart with TFRs overlaid.

    One item of note, most of Downtown Cleveland and surrounding neighborhoods are in Class D airspace controlled by Burke Lakefront Airport which means prior ATC authorization is required prior to any flight while the tower is open.
    Aerial footage captured via drone can greatly enhance a video project! It can show the depth of your campus, add dramatic sweeping wide shots, document construction progress, capture detailed aerial maps (more detail and timely than Google Earth!) and provide unique points of view. That said, you can’t just launch a drone on a whim. You must comply or you could face hefty punishments. Even worse, you could cause a serious accident.
    thunder::tech now has an FAA certificated remote pilot with a small UAS rating on staff. We do our best to comply with all the rules set forth by the FAA to ensure safe operation while capturing amazing footage! Give us a call or shoot us an email to talk about how aerial footage can benefit your business.
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