Drones are fun, useful tools of the trade, and as companies like Amazon emerge with innovative product delivery, we can all expect to see new rules and regulations.
But not for another three years.
Last week, however, President Trump signed a memo empowering the Department of Transportation to begin research on new commercial rules. But it’s safe to say this research won’t affect the recreational user as much as much as the commercial user.
What it will do for hobbyists and pro-sumers is ease regulations on commercial applications — like filming homes.
Last year, drone regulations loosened even more on the permitting side when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stopped requiring a Section 333 waiver for flights. The 333 waiver was an application for commercial use — something real estate agents photographing or filming houses would’ve been required to obtain. Since the image was being used to sell a product, the application was considered commercial. Hobbyists, on the other hand, could enjoy flights for personal use without a 333 waiver.
“Realtors believe in the promise that UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] integration offers to our industry,” said NAR president William E. Brown. “At this time, a number of issues remain unresolved, including beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, so we’re pleased to see the Department of Transportation and the White House taking such strong interest in the issue. We look forward to working with them on behalf of our membership to develop safe, responsible opportunities for commercial drone use.
The flight ceiling remains in class G airspace, or the airspace below 400 feet off the ground level. There is no mention in the memorandum about changing the airspace.
New rules may simply evade existing ones
The memo states:
“To promote continued technological innovation and to ensure the global leadership of the United States in this emerging industry, the regulatory framework for UAS operations must be sufficiently flexible to keep pace with the advancement of UAS technology, while balancing the vital Federal roles in protecting privacy and civil liberties; mitigating risks to national security and homeland security; and protecting the safety of the American public, critical infrastructure, and the Nation’s airspace.”
There have been no new rules penned as of now.
What this memo simply does is allow the Department of Transportation to begin research. The Department will solicit proposals from local and state governments, as well as “tribal leaders.” The memo also states the Department will use five of the proposals as tests. After three years, the proposal with the most opportune outcome will presumably be implemented on a national level.
For agents and real estate professionals, you can expect to see less permitting and licensing.
The biggest changes for UASs will be seen in commercial industries; search and rescue, fire mitigation and park services will benefit greatly from the loosened rules.
As seen recently, drone footage has given unprecedented access to disaster areas all over the world. With that said, insurance companies will most likely benefit from relaxed regulations — especially in the line-of-sight sections of the law.
Although Amazon wants you to give them keys to your house now, in 2020 they may just drone-drop a package on your rooftop.