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Drone Regulations Are Coming!

Posted By : of Data Doctors on October 21, 2015

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Q: Where can I go to understand the proper legal use of taking videos with a drone?

This question was answered on October 21, 2015. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Image courtesy of popularity of drones a.k.a. UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) is exploding and so are the stories of irresponsible pilots.

Anyone that decides to fly a drone has a responsibility to learn about all of the safety and privacy issues as well as any local regulatory restrictions:

The current estimates are that over 1 million drones are owned by hobbyists and the expectation is that about 700,000 more are likely to hit our airspace this year because they’re going to be a hot holiday gift.

The proper ‘legal’ use of UAVs varies based on whether it’s being used for business or recreational purposes. 

At the moment, the regulations are a little out of whack - it’s very difficult to get FAA authorization for commercial use, but any citizen can fly one for personal use without getting permission.

If you are planning on using it commercially, you’ll need to file for an exemption under Section 333 first:

The regulatory landscape is going to change soon - the government intends to require the registration of recreational drones, which they’re attempting to put in place before the holiday buying season.

The focus on registration is an attempt to hold owners accountable by connecting pilots with their aircraft, especially when an incident occurs. We’ll have to wait to see the specifics which reportedly will apply to existing and new owners and include penalties for those that don’t comply.

The FAA and the Transportation Department are setting up an advisory task force to help create the registration system and are scheduled to provide those recommendations on November 20th.

Regardless of what regulations they put in place, enforcement will be the biggest challenge, so being personally responsible is critical.

Whether you’re flying for business or recreational purposes, here are a few of the guidelines that it’s important everyone follows:

·         - Never fly within 5 miles of any airport or manned aircraft

·         - Never fly over people other than those flying the device

·         - Keep your flights under 400 feet

·         - Never fly over private property without the explicit permission of the owner

·         - Take lessons from someone that understands the importance of both safety and privacy

·         - Always maintain line-of-sight with the UAV and include a second person to help when possible

·         - Never fly in inclement weather – wind and rain can cause loss of control

One of the reasons that UAVs have become so popular is that they’re pretty easy to start flying, but that’s also why so many people get into trouble – they don’t invest the time to properly educate themselves on all of the complexities and risks.

This is one of those devices that impacts others in ways you may not think about, so it’s critical you not treat it like a toy.

For those thinking about getting a drone, I’d recommend the following online resources as a starting point:

Also, if you become a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (, not only can you get education and advocacy, you’ll also get $2.5 million in liability insurance for when you’re flying your craft.


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Posted by of Data Doctors on October 21, 2015

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