400 ft - Guideline?

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Hello everybody,

I am just starting to do some real estate aerial work to make some extra cash on the side (I have my part 107). However, I have a property coming up that sits on a 10 acre plot of land. I submitted a waiver 3 weeks ago to fly at a ceiling of 600 ft and still haven't heard back from them. The property is outside of the 5 mile airport range. This is where the issue arises:

Recreational: I have heard mixed feedback regarding whether 400ft was a guideline or a strict rule, which is it?

Commercial: If it takes 90 days maximum to get a waiver approved, how are you guys able to fly 400ft+ in order to photograph large tracts of land?

Thanks
 

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Recreational: I have heard mixed feedback regarding whether 400ft was a guideline or a strict rule, which is it?
It's a guideline/recommendation -- not a rule/law.
 
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....
Commercial: If it takes 90 days maximum to get a waiver approved, how are you guys able to fly 400ft+ in order to photograph large tracts of land?
You can wait forever with dealing with the bureaucracy, even months. You can get a waiver to shoot, but you might also need a permit from local departments as well. Waiver is step one for airborne, and a commercial shoot permit is step two in some locales. I've been through the permit and ordinance mess and you'd be shocked at the paperwork and fees behind one ($2,000+ and months out!). Even $1,600 to park my car in a paved pullout for 3 hours by one county roads dept. that was part of the federal land permit. They all get into it. Then you have certain cities who want a one-day business license for their town tacked on if you are from elsewhere.

What I know is a lot, including Hollywood at times, shoot "Guerilla style," i.e. shoot and run.

At some point I expect the FAA to begin charging for waivers, since most any other commercial film permits do. FilmLA charges $660 just to begin the process and some is non-refundable. If they do, it will probably be a sizable amount as the government tends to think with their commercial fees for National Forests or Parks.
 
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You can wait forever with dealing with the bureaucracy, even months. You can get a waiver to shoot, but you might also need a permit from local departments as well. Waiver is step one for airborne, and a commercial shoot permit is step two in some locales. I've been through the permit and ordinance mess and you'd be shocked at the paperwork and fees behind one ($2,000+ and months out!). Even $1,600 to park my car in a paved pullout for 3 hours by one county roads dept. that was part of the federal land permit. They all get into it. Then you have certain cities who want a one-day business license for their town tacked on if you are from elsewhere.

What I know is a lot, including Hollywood at times, shoot "Guerilla style," i.e. shoot and run.

At some point I expect the FAA to begin charging for waivers, since most any other commercial film permits do. FilmLA charges $660 just to begin the process and some is non-refundable. If they do, it will probably be a sizable amount as the government tends to think with their commercial fees for National Forests or Parks.

I can't fill out the stupid permit because I don't have an actual certificate number yet since it is still "transferred to registry" according to the iacra.faa.gov website. But yeah hint hint I'm picking up what you're putting down.
 
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There is a movie set east of Lancaster, CA that is used in a lot of horror movies and sundry ads (Viagra). It's called "Club Ed."

Every time the weather turns foul I've tried to sneak out there and shoot just for stock images, and every time Hollywood is out there in full force due to weather downturns. They must have some sort of pre-permit process in effect with the set owner as well as FilmLA to do so. When you drive out there, you'll see "Road Closed Ahead Due to Filming" signs set out by someone. Then you hit a major CHP roadblock and barricades with three CHP units closing all roads around the area due to moving traffic shots. Absolutely amazing they haul out large semi-trucks with uber-quiet diesel generators for lighting, car haulers with old antique cars, portable cell/microwave towers, dressing room vans, star RV's etc. on such short order. They will fill a nearby dirt parking lot 3/4 mile north with maybe 50 set workers cars. When they move to do a shoot for weather, they don't mess around. The moving aerial boom truck is amazing alone for the amount of gear on it with three cameramen and a video studio in the middle of it. Even huge rain-maker trucks (One is always there loaded and shown across the street in Google Earth too.). They take the entire kitchen sink out there - and Fast! Somehow, they say screw the paperwork and waiting process: "We're on set in two hours guys."

They know how to do it, just the cost has to be phenomenal and almost no waiting.
 
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Okay, so technically they could nail you on not having line of sight with it though?
Technically, under part 107, yes. Practically, also yes, they could nail you if an FAA Enforcement Agent out on Drone Patrol caught you flying beyond VLOS or 400 feet above a structure.

(there is no such thing as an FAA Enforcement Agent, and no such thing as Drone Patrol)
 
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Line of sight is not a law either.
This is incorrect for hobby use.

https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Sec_331_336_UAS.pdf

Section 336 Special Rule for Model Aircraft:

upload_2016-12-7_9-26-21.png

upload_2016-12-7_9-26-42.png


The information above is how the FAA _defines_ a "Model Aircraft"... so I guess if you don't fly within VLOS you are not flying a "Model Aircraft". :). Just bad wording.

IMHO, the FAA has been _terrible_ in communicating with the public about their regulations and even given out information that is misleading and incorrect. They have release a memo that _attempts_ to break down their views on their own regulations:

https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/model_aircraft_spec_rule.pdf

upload_2016-12-7_9-42-51.png

upload_2016-12-7_9-43-24.png
 
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Technically, under part 107, yes. Practically, also yes, they could nail you if an FAA Enforcement Agent out on Drone Patrol caught you flying beyond VLOS or 400 feet above a structure.

(there is no such thing as an FAA Enforcement Agent, and no such thing as Drone Patrol)
Haha and yeah hopefully there never is! Okay what I'm getting from this thread is that yes I can fly 400ft+ for recreational purposes but for commercial I need a waiver.
 
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A
This is incorrect for hobby use.

https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Sec_331_336_UAS.pdf

Section 336 Special Rule for Model Aircraft:

View attachment 70278
View attachment 70279

The information above is how the FAA _defines_ a "Model Aircraft"... so I guess if you don't fly within VLOS you are not flying a "Model Aircraft". :). Just bad wording.

IMHO, the FAA has been _terrible_ in communicating with the public about their regulations and even given out information that is misleading and incorrect. They have release a memo that _attempts_ to break down their views on their own regulations:

https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/model_aircraft_spec_rule.pdf

View attachment 70282
View attachment 70283
Agreed, they are making it very confusing when it doesn't have to be. There are a lot of grey areas. I remember reading somewhere that the Part 107 was specifically made for UAVs and it is a completely different set of rules than for model aircraft
 
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Agreed, they are making it very confusing when it doesn't have to be.
Not clear...? How about this classic line from the FAA:

upload_2016-12-7_9-57-46.png


Clear? They are _defining_ what a model aircraft _is_ by how it's used. Fly it beyond VLOS and it's no longer a Model Aircraft? Sure... that's perfectly clear. :)

They were then unclear (really amounts to a lie) when they made it appear that 400' was a regulation.
 

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This chart is easier to follow:
https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started

Which community-based safety guidelines are you following?
Not sure what that means.

I follow the ones that exist at the time and location I'm flying. In most cases this is nothing more than what the FAA requires (operate in a safe manner and the regulations). Just for the record, do I fly beyond VLOS? All of the time. Do I fly above 400'? I have but almost never. I'm not preaching to others with these posts.

I took a look at that chart and did not see any errors. I still "like" to look directly at the printed regulations. The FAA has a way of stating recommendations as regulations and also coming up with their own inturpetations of the actual regulations.
 

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Haha and yeah hopefully there never is! Okay what I'm getting from this thread is that yes I can fly 400ft+ for recreational purposes but for commercial I need a waiver.
When I fly my drone, I make a sincere effort to do so safely, and in a manner that is respectful of the people and the property in the area where I'm flying. That is my primary concern, rather than worrying about what the FAA means by its various and multiple arcane rules. I understand those rules pretty well and generally follow them, but I'm far more concerned about pissing people off than I am about drawing the ire of an FAA SWAT Team.
 
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I think the enclosed red part refers to the AMA Guidelines here: https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/105.PDF

Interesting that the AMA airfield distance is 3 miles where the FAA is 5 miles. And seems they can do it much closer under some agreement with the local airport. I wondered how some are under the 5 mile limit. Fwiw, there is an AMA sanctioned flying field right on the Chico Municipal Airport in Chico, CA. Only 800 feet west of runway 31 too. It's visible in Google Earth.
 

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I think the enclosed red part refers to the AMA Guidelines here
The AMA is the only community-based organization I know of. The majority of hobbyists are not members. They have a whole slew of rules in addition to the FAA's rules.
 
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When I fly my drone, I make a sincere effort to do so safely, and in a manner that is respectful of the people and the property in the area where I'm flying. That is my primary concern, rather than worrying about what the FAA means by its various and multiple arcane rules. I understand those rules pretty well and generally follow them, but I'm far more concerned about pissing people off than I am about drawing the ire of an FAA SWAT Team.
Agree 100%
 
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Community based rules are interesting.

Tehachapi, CA's model flying club (AMA sanctioned) is under 3 miles from their airport, even approving night flying, and some sailplane field is nearby too. Then Chico, CA's municipal airport has an AMA field right on the airport itself. Imagine that!

Wonder if LAX would approve of it? They'd go nuts and commercial pilots would be complaining like mad along with all sorts of policing and ordinances. Wonder how Chico handles that behavior with commercial flights, or if it's just "Oh look, a drone at 11 o'clock" and pass it off. Rural thought processes are very different, although the south seems to like to shoot drones out of the sky for sport. Odd the FAA allows independent local thought too which seems to makes these 'rules' even more gray at times - depending on who you ask. FAA officer says "You flew within a mile of a municipal airport." "But officer, it is allowed here at Chico airport." Go figger.
 
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Keep in mind that you can fly over 400ft if you are within a 400ft radius of a structure, in which case you may fly 400ft above the highest point of that structure. If there are any towers or tall structures in the area get in the radius and you just boosted your ceiling. 400ft + the height of said structure.


Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
 
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