Drone Regulations & Video
Strategic Media incorporated the use of aerial drones into our productions beginning about 2 years ago. We have steadily upgraded as drones have improved and currently primarily use a DJI Inspire and DJI Phantom 2 with a gimbal and GoPro attached.
Our clients often have questions about usage of drones and regulations surrounding them. When we first started doing aerial filming with drones two short years ago, it was the wild west with little governmental direction. The current state of the rules surrounding drone use can be confusing. Our cinematography team has joined an online drone creative team – which first and foremost provides insightful techniques for creative drone shots to get the most out of these incredible tools – always with a focus on being safe while getting your shot. Also, this resource group provided guidance to make sure we are following the latest rules and regulations.
Finding this information on your own can be a frustrating process – going through the FAA’s website to get clear information is a painful exercise, and things continue to change. That’s why working together with other drone professionals to track the changes is so important – it keeps us up-to-date and in compliance.
Here’s a rundown of important points of current regulations:
• If you don’t make money flying, you’re considered a “hobbyist”
• If you’re a hobbyist, all that is needed is to register your drone online for $5
• Failure to register as a hobbyist leaves you open to possible expensive fines, especially if you fly in restricted areas
• If you’re a professional making money flying, this is considered to be “commercial”
• Commercial flyers must apply for an FAA 333 exemption to legally fly
• Commercial flyers are required to have a pilot’s license (sport, private, or recreation)
Stay tuned – coming next from the FAA, many are waiting for an updated set of rules with an easier system to register for commercial flying, including not needing a pilot’s license. In February, the FAA announced: (from faa.gov)
The FAA is establishing an aviation rulemaking committee with industry stakeholders to develop recommendations for a regulatory framework that would allow certain UAS to be operated over people who are not directly involved in the operation of the aircraft. The FAA is taking this action to provide a more flexible, performance-based approach for these operations than what was considered for Micro UAS. The committee will begin its work in March and issue its final report to the FAA on April 1.
That report has been filed, and now the FAA must decide what they are going to change based on this report. There is a current bill working through Congress (the Micro-drone Bill) which allows commercial flying without a 333 exemption, if the drone weighs under 4.4lbs. This includes the Phantom series of drones, but not the DJI Inspire.
Lastly, there is some question of the FAA and their regulatory authority over drones. Currently there is no method of enforcement for the FAA regulations – so it is yet to be seen how all this will work out. Ultimately, it is thought the necessity for a pilot’s license will be dropped, perhaps with the institution of some form of drone flying license for commercial use.