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?