As drones become more common, concerns for misuse have increased. The FAA has implemented rules addressing safety issues. These rules apply to drones that are less than 55 pounds in weight and used for commercial (i.e. non-hobbyist) operations. Use of a drone to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual, or for use in selling services or products (eg: for use in commercials, ads, or websites) would be considered a commercial operation. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes commercial use. Some of the more notable provisions include
- Pilot certificate. Drone operators must have a remote pilot airman certificate or be directly supervised by someone who is certified.
- Visualization. Drones must stay within the user’s sight. Drones equipped with a camera or similar technology must specifically remain within another visual observer’s unaided sight; the use of binoculars for visual tracking is not acceptable.
- Time of operation. In addition to daytime usage, drones may be flown during twilight hours (30 minutes prior to official sunrise or 30 minutes after official sunset) but only if the drone is equipped with suitable anti-collision lighting.
- Altitude. Drones may not exceed an altitude of 400 feet above the ground unless they remain within 400 feet of a structure such as a tower.
Speed. Drones cannot exceed 100 mph.
- No-fly zones. Drones cannot be flown over people who are (1) not directly participating in its flight/operation, (2) not covered by a structure, or (3) not inside a covered stationary vehicle. Furthermore, drones cannot be operated by someone in a moving vehicle unless the drone flies over an isolated area.
Even recreational drones must be registered with the FAA if they weigh more than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs., and must be labeled with the provided registration number. Individual drone users are encouraged to check local and state laws before using drones to record photographs, video, or other information. More information can be found at www.faa.gov.