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Non Compliant Drone Flights - That means you, agents that are not Part 107 Certified

You may not be aware of the financial hardship you are putting yourself and your agency in if you or your hired person(s) are using drones for your real estate photography and not Part 107 certified. I know its about saving money. Your thought process is "I wont get caught". I suppose that matters as to how much of a gambler you are, right? One throw of the dice and if you number doesn't come up, you are in for a world of pain. Financial pain.

This recent email from a drone enforcement case will show you the violations stacked up against a pilot and how much it cost them, immediately. This particular example is not involving real estate specifically, but it involves drone pilots who are not following the rules and how the same infractions can easily be violated. Especially if you or the person you hire is not 107 certified. With real estate, the FAA will levy fines not only to the pilot, but also the real estate agent who hired the pilot. So think twice before trying to cut financial corners. Your sons friend who has a drone or your brother-in-law who has one can potentially sink the ship. Case in point;

Recent Drone Enforcement Case

In December 2021, the FAA issued a fine to a drone operator for flying a drone over protest events in upstate New York. The regulations violated by the recreational flyer happened during a series of three separate flights in October and November 2020. The self-proclaimed recreational flyer did not comply with all of the eight requirements listed in section (a) of 49 U.S.C. § 44809 — the exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft. Section (b) of the statute states when recreational flyers fail to comply with any of the eight limitations contained in section (a), they must comply with the applicable regulations governing the operation of drones. In this case, since the drone was a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), 14 CFR part 107 was the applicable regulatory part.

The FAA investigation revealed the flights were over people, at night, in controlled airspace without an authorization, and posed a hazard to people and property below. As a result, the FAA determined the operator of the drone was in noncompliance with section 44809 and therefore subject to 14 CFR part 107.

The following list of regulations were cited in the enforcement case:

1. § 107.12(b): no remote pilot certificate.

2. § 107.13: drone not registered.

3. § 107.19(c): posing a hazard to people, aircraft, or property.

4. § 107.23(a): careless or reckless flying.

5. § 107.29(a): flying at night without a waiver (prior to the new operations over people or at night rule).

6. § 107.39: flying over people without a waiver (prior to the new operations over people or at night rule).

7. § 107.41: flying in controlled airspace without authorization.

8. § 107.65: no 24 month recency of knowledge.

The drone operator was assessed a civil penalty for $15,205 which had to be paid immediately.

Just because you do not read about these cases, does not mean the FAA is not on their game. Always call a professional!

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