That’s the real question everyone asks themselves. Here are a few examples of where you comply, and never think twice. You just don’t let people work on your teeth, or your children’s teeth, that are not dentists. You never let anyone without a drivers license drive your vehicles. So why would you fly for a company without a license?
As an FAA Part 107 certified pilot I get asked all the time why I went through all hoops even though I already knew how to fly. Many people think that they don’t need a license to fly. Well they’re right. Just like with a car, I know people who know how to drive and don’t have a license. Heck my 22 year old daughter is one of those people. The difference is, she lives in the big city and just uses public transportation and taxis. But she knows shes not going to drive dads car, because she doesn’t have a license. Not mentioning all the legal, insurance, and other complications that could arise from a trip to the grocery store without a license. I jumped through the hoops because I wanted to fly for more than just recreation.
More than just for recreation? Yeah. If you thought that we had a lot of rules, regulations and laws for driving, get a pilots license. The FAA isn’t messing around, they even run comprehensive background checks. They require any drone above 0.55lbs (250 grams) be registered as an unmanned aircraft. “You will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if you meet the criteria to register an unmanned aircraft and do not register.” This is one of the welcoming statements on their drone site. Don’t let it scare you though, anybody can register a drone and most do. What concerned me was twofold. First is the industry itself. It is still in its infancy stages and the FAA are regularly imposing more and more laws and restrictions. Especially on the recreational flyers. This alone however was not why I became licensed. I wanted to take the pictures and videos I captured of my church and of my kids events and give them to others. You read that right, I could not even give my church an aerial video or photograph without breaking an FAA rule. But what if I didn’t charge them, what if I was flying recreationally and snapped the best picture ever of our church, and just wanted them to have it? Nope, no can do. “You may not combine recreational and commercial purposes in a single operation.”
What is commercial use of a UAS? (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)
Any commercial use in connection with a business, including:
- Selling photos or videos taken from a UAS
- Using UAS to provide contract services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
- Using UAS to provide professional services, such as security or telecommunications
- Using UAS to monitor the progress of work your company is performing
What are some examples of commercial uses of UAS?
- Professional real estate or wedding photography
- Professional cinema photography for a film or television production
- Providing contract services for mapping or land surveys
Many rules can be waived with mitigations under as a part 107 licensed pilot.
Some operations are not covered by Part 107 and will require a waiver. Here are some common examples of Part 107 sections that are subject to waiver:
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25)*
- Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
- Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31)*
- Visual observer (§ 107.33)
- Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
- Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
- Operation over people (§ 107.39)
- Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51)
*The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
With all that said we still have not talked about the state rules and regulations! Minnesota for example fall pretty much in line with the FAA. The main difference is you need to be insured and make sure you pay your annual fees to the state.
If you still what to fly and just have fun, do it! You don’t need a license to have fun. Just register your drone and follow the rules. If you want to fly and take photographs or video for anyone other than yourself get a license. Because if you don’t you put more than just you at risk. If the threat of FAA imposed civil penalties of up to $32,666 per incident. Or the ability to impose criminal sanctions, which include a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to three years upon conviction doesn’t scare you think of the people, company or organization you may be flying for. That person, company or organization will be fined $11,000 per instance for using an unlicensed pilot. Additionally, if you have your own drone and fly it for your own business you will be responsible for both fines. Furthermore, what if something happens and the drone crashes into someone’s property or worse into a person? Are you or that person, company or organization prepared for the FAA investigation, potential lawsuits and all the negative publicity that is sure to come with it? It’s not worth it! Fly right and have fun!