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No Exemption needed. Thought? Comments?

Discussion in 'Inspire 1 Discussion' started by Outta Control, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. Outta Control

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    This article is dated Feb 13, 2015

    FAA Says Commercial Drone Operators Need Exemption. But Doesn't Prosecute Those Flying Without One.

    If you visit any social media website devoted to drone operators, you’re likely to see discussions of whether to apply for an FAA exemption to fly commercially or just keep flying and hope you don’t get caught. Recently, commenters have noted that despite the FAA’s public statements that commercial drone operations are illegal without specific FAA approval and its issuance of “cease and desist letters” to commercial operators, it has reportedly never taken legal enforcement action against a drone operator solely for operating commercially. A request to the FAA for comment on its enforcement cases against commercial drone operators was not responded to.

    Intrigued by the reported divergence between what the FAA says is illegal and what it actually enforces, I decided to probe a little further. Below is what I found.

    1. The FAA has stated numerous times in numerous places – including its June 2014 interpretative rule – that commercial drone flights, including those incidental to a business, cannot operate under model aircraft rules. The FAA believes that commercial drone flights are covered by manned aircraft requirements and the only way to legally operate civil unmanned aircraft systems for business purposes is to apply for and obtain 1. a special airworthiness certificate – experimental category, 2. a UAS type and airworthiness certificate – restricted category or 3. petition for a so-called 333 exemption, named after the section of the statute authorizing it. Because of the cost and expense of obtaining UAS certificates, the only real option for small businesses and individuals is the 333 exemption process.

    2. While cheaper and easier to obtain than a type or airworthiness certificate, getting a 333 exemption is still time-consuming and expensive with attorney fees reportedly ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the complexity of the proposed operations. But the requirements of the 333 exemption – once granted – are giving many people who want to operate legally significant pause. The Washington Post’s article this week laying out the 33 requirements that real estate agent Douglas Trudeau – the first real estate agent to receive a 333 exemption to fly a Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter – needs to meet to legally take aerial photos or video of homes around Tucson, Arizona is a must-read for any small business considering a 333 exemption. In addition to requiring the drone operator to hold a private pilot’s license and third class medical – which I’ve pointed out in the past is absurd – he’s required to have an observer for each flight, operate away from congested areas (which under FAA interpretations include open air assemblies of people and small groupings of structures in relatively remote areas) and at least 500 feet from non-participating people, vessels, structures and vehicles. ( I wonder how many properties listed for sale in or around Tucson can meet this requirement?) Mr. Trudeau, like other recipients of 333 exemptions, is also required to have an Air Traffic Certificate of Authorization and file a Notice to Airmen before each operation.

    3. Weighing against the cost and expense of applying for a 333 exemption and then complying with its numerous restrictions, is the FAA’s enforcement policy which to date has resulted in zero cases against commercial drone operators for flying commercially. Not only has the FAA chosen thus far not to take any legal action, it’s unlikely that it will. In an enforcement policy bulletin issued to its inspectors and lawyers this past October, the FAA makes clear that legal enforcement action is to be taken only for “a violation that poses a medium or high actual or potential risk to safety, ” such as “ when a UAS operation has a medium or high risk of endangering the operation of another aircraft or endangering persons or property on the ground.” It’s hard for me to imagine that the commercial nature of an operation – in and of itself – would meet this standard.

    So there’s the landscape as I see it. If you want to fly a drone commercially and legally according to the FAA, there’s a a time-consuming and expensive application process you can follow. Plus severe (and expensive) restrictions once you get the exemption. On the other hand, if you fly safely, albeit commercially, the FAA appears to have no interest in going after you.

    While I applaud the FAA for not penalizing safe, commercial operations, the better course would be for the FAA to allow all very small drone operations (2 kilos and under) to operate under the same requirements as model aircraft regardless of the commercial or hobby nature of the flight.


    http://onforb.es/173xcOt
     
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  2. MindOverEye

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    Nice post, I agree with most of it. Mu companies main problem is that insurance companies are all wise to productions using UAV's. If they catch you using one during a production and you didn't declare it, they will void the insurance for your entire production. Sucks, hopefully on Sept 30, we will get some more clarity, but I won't hold my breath.
     
  3. turbodronepilot

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    Ya man..
    what about the TSA screening? ?
    Over regulating business hurts free enterprise. .
    The requirements above make no sense to me what's so ever. .
    So keep on doing what you do and fly below the radar. .
    Turbo. ...
     
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  4. licensed pilot

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    I guess no one told SkyPan?
     
  5. bluethundr

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    Skypan is not seeing that "fine"due to commercial usage. They are being find for reckless and careless operation in two Cities inside Class B airspace with out the ATC approval. The FAA also added that they were in the air w/out a proper transponder etc..
    It would appear that if Skypan had simply notified the ATC of the flights (65 of them) the FAA may have not gone after them. However since Skypan and another attorney are actually suing the FAA one would think this fine was a "you got us, now we have you" kind of action.
     
  6. Outta Control

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    I approve your post. This is what I was told also. SkyPan was poking at the FAA and they in turn poke and bit back but beyond that nothing major will happen to SkyPan.
     
  7. Jimmykjimmy

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    Good post. I believe that there are 2744 333 exemptions that have been given. There are probably several million drones in the US. I've got to believe that a significant percentage are doing some kind of commercial work. Whether it's photography, or real estate,something. Kudos to the FAA for not chasing those people that respect the rule sadly safely.
     
  8. Outta Control

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    Actually at the time of this post there are 3261 granted exemption but that doesn't mean there are renegades that pushes those boundaries that don't play under the radar. My team and I recently met an individual that had zero clue about not only 333 Exemption or the FAR Part 107 or yet knows the recreational rule limits. So they are out there and we need to do what we can to educate them or stop them before it get any worst than it is already.
     
  9. Jimmykjimmy

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    Thanks for the update. I recently met a guy that had a 333 exemption through a company that he worked for,,some kind of sports etc. I asked him in passing if he was able to get a 333 exemption and he said he got it through his company. He then went on to say, that he doesn't do flight plans and all the other stuff ( some you described) before he flies..it's a pain.
    I'm afraid this is already out of control, even with those that have an exemption. More do not have an exemption.
    Your right the ignorant ones are out there and they number in the thousands, and from my example above it also includes those with exemptions...unfortunately.
     
  10. licensed pilot

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    Keep whistling through the graveyard. Anyone really believes the FAA, after it was dragged kicking and screaming into the UAS regulation arena and forced to establish a UAS Integration Office to develop standards for commercial operations is now going to sit back and ignore those who operate illegally? There is not going to be any FAA "drone patrols" by FAA inspectors, they do not have the staff and they don't do that today. But neither are they going to sit back and ignore any complaints. 333s is going to be a self-policing task. A person may very well fly commercially for the next 20 years w/o getting caught, but will be looking over his shoulder for a competitor to turn you in. If a UAS business is making so much $$ it can afford to keep aviation lawyers on retainers then I say go with God. The govmn't hires lawyers by the bushel.