Are Drones Legal In Florida?
Are you looking for a Gainesville based drone operator but don’t know where to start? Have you been getting aerials from a drone operator who only accepts cash and gives you terrible quality imagery? Are you looking for a legitimate company that is actually based out of Florida that gives you safe, legal, and
professional quality footage?
We’re here to help clear up some of the misinformation that is out there regarding the red tape of the open skies.
The applications for aerial videography, videography, and data gathering is growing tremendously and will be a multi-billion dollar industry by the end of 2017. UASs can get to heights that were seemingly unreachable in the past.
The Risk of Illegitimate Operators
Many of the aerial service providers you may find online are running illegitimately, and without care for the law or safety. We did a survey of the aerial footage market in Gainesville, FL and found that 12/16 providers that were listed at the time of writing this article were operating under the radar. With this day and age kids are getting a Phantom 3 Standard for Christmas and instantly try to make some spending cash on the side by doing real estate aerial photography or a quick video here and there. What they don’t understand is that they’re severely jeopardizing the image of the industry in the eyes of the public by flying recklessly and without any precautions or insurance.
The air is a busy place and is carved up into different partitions which are used for different purposes.
To ensure that you’re getting quality work please ask this of your drone service provider:
- Are they licensed by the FAA to fly UASs commercially?
- Can they show you proof of insurance?
- Do they carry a logbook of flights for their aerial drone?
- Do they do a preflight check before every flight?
- Do they flout FAA rules such as the heigh rules or visual line of sight rules?
- Do they only accept cash?
- How long have they been in business?
If you are looking for a Safe, Legal, and Professional Gainesville, FL based drone operator that works anywhere in the contiguous United States, Call us today!.
We are insured for over $1million for each flight, fly under a part 107 certificate form the FAA, and have all the necessary waivers to fly in areas where they are required.
The FAA is Overworked, Underpaid, and Seriously Slacking. Yes, the FAA is America.
On March 7, the FAA released a document which tasked its Drone Advisory Committee (DAC), a long-term advisory board comprised of drone and tech industry leaders, with providing recommendations on how to fund the integration of drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).
Harmless, right? ― but the FAA then said that if additional funding isn’t found the progress of the drone industry will be greatly impacted. We all know this will detrimentally effect everyone who flies drones.
How the FAA gets money
The FAA primarily receives funding from the Aviation Trust Fund (for now). These taxes come from minuscule taxes that are put on international arrivals and departures from major ports, airline tickets, and fuel that is pumped into airplanes. In 2016, these taxes made up a whopping 87.8% of the FAA’s funding.
Note here that the FAA does a lot more than drones – so at the end of the day the drone program get’s only a minuscule percentage of this funding.
“The requirement to meet UAS needs is outpacing the Agency’s resources. Without additional funds, the FAA will not be able to keep pace with the dramatic growth in public, industry, and business demands for UAS operations,” the FAA said in the document.
Can’t keep up with demand
Due to this lack of funding and personally we’re seeing very slow trickle of progress on waivers, new regulation, and general industry progress. When Part 107 went into effect in August 2016, the aerial industry celebrated the FAA’s progress. Obviously, the FAA was struggling to keep up with the increased workload without an increase in personnel or resources.
Within a month after Part 107 certifications and waivers , waiver requests “had already overwhelmed our traditional systems and manual processes”
Did we really expect this problem to solve itself? The FAA has again and again talked about the large number of pilots who have passed the Part 107 Knowledge Test, but as we now know the time it takes to get a waiver approved after getting a 107 certificate is very high. This is proven by the most recent waiver issuance on the FAA’s public database: January 23.
Obviously more personnel is required — but this isn’t going to happen, considering the fact that Trump has issued an executive order that indefinitely freezes all federal hiring.
The FAA’s public admittance of its current struggle reveals what many have suspected for a long time. It’s apparent that the Administration simply can’t keep up with the aerial industry.
Making YOU pay?
The FAA has talked about multiple different ways that they can cover their costs that are associated with regulating an entire drone industry, but as we’ve seen customers and pilots have been apprehensive about paying a $5 drone registration fee, so is higher fees to the end user really the answer?.
Funding the FAA’s complex drone division to the extent needed while keeping the industry alive and well is going to be very difficult to get right. Charging a 10% tax ontop of your new DJI Phantom 4 Pro isn’t really going to break the bank for you — but if every new drone buyer pays that 10% tax, will that be enough to solve their financial issues? If the tax is raised to 20%, would the industry suffer because of it?
These are the issues that the DAC will have to tackle in the coming months. The FAA Task Group will consider the DAC’s recommendations and make it’s decisions no later than March 2018. We’ll be here waiting.
2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year for aerial law.
2016 brought us part 107.
Part 107 revolutionized the way commercial flights were done. Gone were the days where you needed to apply for 333 exemption and wait for months for it to be approved.
We’re certainly going through turbulent times, both in the normal world and the aerial services industry. We still have 11 months to go before we can look back in hindsight and see what we did wrong, and where we can do better – but why not try to get it right for once?
Some troubling situations:
A member on the popular DJI Phantom 4 Forums (phantom pilots.com) posted on January 28th, 2017 saying that he was contacted by Nevada Law Enforcement regarding an aerial flight that he did over the Upcoming Tesla Gigafactory in Storey County, near the Community of Clark, Nevada. He uploaded his video on Youtube and was contacted by Law Enforcement to discuss “trespassing over private property”
He [Law Enforcement] said that the business/property owner forwarded my footage to him and he came to the conclusion that I flew under 250ft directly over private property which is considered trespassing under Nevada law.
Upon further digging Nevada has enacted a law – NRS 493.103 “Tresspass by Drone” which clearly states.
This falls under part 107 but still applies.
NRS 493.103 Unmanned aerial vehicles: Action for trespass against owner or operator; exceptions; award of treble damages for injury to person or property; award of attorney’s fees and costs and injunctive relief.
1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, a person who owns or lawfully occupies real property in this State may bring an action for trespass against the owner or operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle that is flown at a height of less than 250 feet over the property if:
(a) The owner or operator of the unmanned aerial vehicle has flown the unmanned aerial vehicle over the property at a height of less than 250 feet on at least one previous occasion; and
(b) The person who owns or occupies the real property notified the owner or operator of the unmanned aerial vehicle that the person did not authorize the flight of the unmanned aerial vehicle over the property at a height of less than 250 feet. For the purposes of this paragraph, a person may place the owner or operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle on notice in the manner prescribed in subsection 2 of NRS 207.200.
2. A person may not bring an action pursuant to subsection 1 if:
(a) The unmanned aerial vehicle is lawfully in the flight path for landing at an airport, airfield or runway.
(b) The unmanned aerial vehicle is in the process of taking off or landing.
(c) The unmanned aerial vehicle was under the lawful operation of:
(1) A law enforcement agency in accordance with NRS 493.112.
(2) A public agency in accordance with NRS 493.115.
(d) The unmanned aerial vehicle was under the lawful operation of a business registered in this State or a land surveyor if:
(1) The operator is licensed or otherwise approved to operate the unmanned aerial vehicle by the Federal Aviation Administration;
(2) The unmanned aerial vehicle is being operated within the scope of the lawful activities of the business or surveyor; and
(3) The operation of the unmanned aerial vehicle does not unreasonably interfere with the existing use of the real property.
3. A plaintiff who prevails in an action for trespass brought pursuant to subsection 1 is entitled to recover treble damages for any injury to the person or the real property as the result of the trespass. In addition to the recovery of damages pursuant to this subsection, a plaintiff may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and injunctive relief.
I personally believe that other states will follow in Nevada’s footsteps and enact similar laws to curtail flights over private property.
Is this a good idea? Do we want to be controlling who can and cannot fly over our land at altitudes higher than the tree lines? Please note that we at Veuwr do not personally agree with this statement – Invasion of privacy is very very real, and the sooner people realize that aerial drones are not toys and are tools that can be misused in the wrong hands, the sooner the public will drop the negative idea that they have of the industry.
We must remember that the air above us is owned by no-one. If a professional is flying in a safe manner with no intention of spying on a person or property, or harming anyone in any way, is that a bad thing?
What’s going to happen, moving forward?
As of now professional aerial service providers fly under FAA Part 107.
- Operations must take place during daylight hours, or within the hours of civil twilight (immediately before sunrise and after sunset).
- Flight is permitted near non-participating structures.
- Flight is not permitted directly over non-participating people.
- The aerial drone must be kept under Visual line of sight at all times.
These regulations provide us with a safe framework upon which professional and safe pilots such as us can operate under legally.
As an example all of our pilots for Veuwr have had to complete the Part 107 test with the FAA to get certified for commercial operations. We also carry commercial liability insurance through our insurance partner Verifly, and have waivers for and are in the process of getting many regulations for some of the rules applying to Part 107 pilots. These factors in sum total show you how seriously we at Veuwr Aerials take our jobs. We don’t mess around.
It’s still early in the year, and on the positive side it looks like there’s some great legislation on it’s way.
Instant airspace authorizations, flights beyond Visual line of sight, and flight over crowds all in the coming months.
This is going to be BIG for the industry. As of now we have to wait weeks to be approved for some waivers and it would be nice for the FAA to treat the people in the industry like the professionals that they are, and give them the trust and responsibility that they deserve.
How do you want Part 107 to change and grow?