FAA Green-Lights More Commercial UAS Operations

786_collage_dji_sensefly FAA Green-Lights More Commercial UAS OperationsThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted two more regulatory exemptions for commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations, including the first for real estate photography.

The agency gave the exemptions to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty of Tucson, Ariz., and Advanced Aviation Solutions of Spokane, Wash. Before these exemption approvals, the FAA had granted 12 exemptions to 11 other companies in a variety of industries.

According to the FAA, Trudeau’s exemption authorizes him to fly a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos. Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use a senseFly fixed-wing eBee UAS to make photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.

Both applicants also must obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft, the agency explains. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.

Anthony Foxx, U.S. department of transportation secretary, found that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

In granting the exemptions, the FAA explains, it considered the planned operating environments and required certain conditions and limitations to assure the safe operation of these UAS in the National Airspace System. For example, operations require both a pilot and observer, the pilot must have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times.

Drone lawyer Brendan Schulman has pointed out on Twitter posts that the Realtor does not, in fact, have the Private Pilot certificate and that the exemption ‘prohibits flights over 'congested' areas’ but that the FAA ‘won't define congested.’ The full exemption grant can be found here.

The Advanced Aviation Solutions exemption grant can be found here.

As of Jan. 6, the FAA says, it has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.


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