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A Better Partnership

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Mar 2017
08
March 08, 2017

Flyer Beware: Strict New Drone Regulations Now in Effect


Effective in August of 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued regulations placing very stringent restrictions on how companies may utilize drones—or “small unmanned aircrafts”—for commercial purposes. Those regulations prohibit (among other things):
  • Using drones for any commercial purpose (i.e., anything other than hobby use) without first securing a pilot’s license from, and registering that drone with, the FAA;
  • Operating drones outside of daylight hours;
  • Flying drones outside of the operator’s line of sight; and
  • Flying a drone over the head of another person, unless that person is in a fully covered structure (like a building or covered stadium).
These restrictions even apply to drones flown over one’s own private property. That means drones used to film sporting, student or recreational events may not be flown over people—even when those people are on your property and are aware of the drone.  

Operators failing to comply with these restrictions are subject to fines for each violation. The FAA has issued fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to the FAA’s largest fine to date: a proposed fine of $1.9 million issued against a New York-based aerial photography company.  Read: The FAA just issued the largest fine ever against a company for flying drones illegally.
 
Commercial drone operators can, however, apply to the FAA for waivers from all of these restrictions. We are currently monitoring how freely the FAA will grant these waivers and which type(s) of drones are most likely to get them. If you have any questions about navigating the FAA’s waiver process or how the new regulations affect your drone and anticipated drone use, please feel free to contact Clint Westbrook at 616.752.2748 or cwestbrook@wnj.com or Lance Zoerhof at 616.752.2384 or lzoerhof@wnj.com for assistance.

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