Received a call from the FAA this morning

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Very nice guy just trying to do his job. He said someone forwarded a video from my real estate Facebook page showing me flying over homes, cars, and people. The point I made to him was: I own the land and several of the homes I flew over. His point to me was: I do not own the airspace above the homes and I am supposed to be 500 ft away from any such material objects. The video I took was of a rural subdivision my company developed back in 2000. 3 to 34 acre tracts. I did not receive any compensation for this video nor did I fly over 400 ft. I did have it on a real estate oriented FB page and I did fly over the subdivision, so there were houses under my drone. He said it was commercial use and I was not in compliance. He said the commercial issue goes as far as if you are on vacation and you legally fly your drone, for example, next to the condo where you were staying and posted on your FB page how much you enjoyed staying at ABC Condos, you violated the commercial use regulation. Soooooo . . . all you real estate videographers out there...beware. I live in the great state of Arkansas. Y'all come down and visit sometime:) Oh, and leave your drone at home!
 

BigAl07

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While I do understand "where" he was coming from in terms of "Commercial Ops" I think his description of a vacation stay etc is a bit of a stretch. My understanding is that the "intent of the flight" is really what matters most and if you're flying for fun and never wish to use the footage to "better a company" then you are good to go. Of course I'm not an attorney so that's not legal advice in any way.

If your company developed the subdivision and your posted online video that could in any way "better" the company it's commercial.
 

captainmilehigh

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I really don't think he was from the FAA. I've dealt with them for over 30 years as a commercial/corporate pilot, and they have never contacted me for anything by phone. Only by US Mail. And that was just normal stuff that they always contact me about. I'd be a little suspicious in this case.
 

N017RW

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It's not without precedent. There were two other similar occurances of this documented here in the last few months.
Those threads were long and contentious but in the end it was true, casual contact was made with requested documentation posted here later proving it.
 

captainmilehigh

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It's not without precedent. There were two other similar occurances of this documented here in the last few months.
Those threads were long and contentious but in the end it was true, casual contact was made with requested documentation posted here later proving it.
Good to know. Thanks for the info. I'm a noob when it comes to UAV's, but been flying for fun and work since I was 18.........many moons' ago. [emoji3]


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BigAl07

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Those threads were long and contentious but in the end it was true, casual contact was made with requested documentation posted here later proving it.
That's an UNDERstatement LOL! That thread went on and on and on. . . . . .

But in the end they showed undeniable proof it was indeed a genuine FAA representative contacting them in "non traditional" means. This just shows that the FAA is using more than traditional snail-mail for official contact these days.
 
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captainmilehigh

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That's an UNDERstatement LOL! That thread went on and on and on. . . . . .

But in the end they showed undeniable proof it was indeed a genuine FAA representative contacting them in "non traditional" means. This just shows that the FAA is using more than traditional snail-mail for official contact these days.
I wasn't aware of the other post, just the one by MariposaLand above. Otherwise I wouldn't have made the previous post concerning the validity of the callers' identity. I stand corrected. Oops. [emoji31]


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BigAl07

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I wasn't aware of the other post, just the one by MariposaLand above. Otherwise I wouldn't have made the previous post concerning the validity of the callers' identity. I stand corrected. Oops. [emoji31]


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We all started at the same place and we're all learning at the same time. I admit I felt like it was "spammish" the first time I heard they used "social media" etc. I was very skeptical but when they posted the actual documents and they were checked for accuracy we were proven wrong.

It's good to be skeptical especially in today's society.
 
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Thanks guys. The FAA guy sent me an email to follow up. It is legit. I suppose if they can get your phone number they make a call or at least that is what happened in my case. I can't wait for them to get this silly commercial use issue resolved for small businesses who have a legitimate reason to use a uav for videography and still images in a rural setting.
 
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N017RW

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Never doubted it and thanks for 'admitting' this but the concern, based on your OP, was flying over "homes, cars, and people".

Not sure commercial flight relaxations will eliminate this concern.

Maybe some will occur and maybe expect to be mandated to carry insurance as well as other additional safety equipment or procedures.
 

captainmilehigh

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Thanks guys. The FAA guy sent me an email to follow up. It is legit. I suppose if they can get your phone number they make a call or at least that is what happened in my case. I can't wait for them to get this silly commercial use issue resolved for small businesses who have a legitimate reason to use a uav for videography and still images in a rural setting.
Well, at least it was just a verbal/written(email) warning. And yes, I agree the sooner the better on SIMPLE guidelines to follow....but FAA rarely does anything the easy way. Dealing with them over the last 30+ years has taught me that. Good luck with your videography endeavors.




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N017RW

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MariposaLand,
Did he ask if you were registered?
 
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@no17rw Yes he did ask if I was registered. I am. As far as flying over houses. We are taking 3 to 10 acre lots. With a house in the middle out in the country. There was one person on a riding lawn mower in the entire video. Thank you for your feedback.!
 
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So, please forgive me but I'm not sure I understand the issue as expressed by the FAA representative. I've just re-read the FAA web page on flying a UAS and I don't see what you did that violates the regulations they have. They even come right out and say you can earn $ from a flight as long as the intention of the flight wasn't to earn the $ but to fly as a hobbyist.

Was the issue that they construed this as a commercial flight? I mean, if I had no connection to the property and came to visit you, as a property owner, for the weekend, could I fly your same route and post it to YouTube?

What if I didn't post it anywhere? I know they probably wouldn't know but just for compliance. If I flew your route, as your guest, with no camera on my 250 mini quad, would I be in violation as a FAA employee drove by and saw me?

I'm not making any argument at this point, just trying really hard to fly in compliance so I'm not the guy who is the "test case". Thanks for any additional details you can give.

Glad they are being reasonable and not trying to issue bug penalties as we work this out.
 

BigAl07

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So, please forgive me but I'm not sure I understand the issue as expressed by the FAA representative. I've just re-read the FAA web page on flying a UAS and I don't see what you did that violates the regulations they have. They even come right out and say you can earn $ from a flight as long as the intention of the flight wasn't to earn the $ but to fly as a hobbyist.
If the intent of the flight was recreational/hobby and money was later earned (for example someone saw one of the pics and wanted to buy a print or even the digital version) it's one thing. But if you're flying the property with the intent to post it online to publicize the property and the property is for sale it could be considered "Commercial". Lot's of grey area (that's an understatement) with the FAA's terms but it comes down to the intent of the flight itself.
Was the issue that they construed this as a commercial flight? I mean, if I had no connection to the property and came to visit you, as a property owner, for the weekend, could I fly your same route and post it to YouTube?
Yes the OP stated "He said it was commercial use and I was not in compliance". If you have no connection to the property and it in no way benefited you or the property owner or developer then it's all good in terms of "Commercial Operations".

What if I didn't post it anywhere? I know they probably wouldn't know but just for compliance. If I flew your route, as your guest, with no camera on my 250 mini quad, would I be in violation as a FAA employee drove by and saw me? .
So long as you flew in a way that was safe and could not be construed any other way you'd be fine.
 
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Just noticed you are in Arkansas. I went to visit an ex-wife and her kids down there............... first crotchety old curmudgeon I've ever encountered was one of the sons new father-in-law. Why, he'd shoot that **** thing down if he saw it over his property! I accidentally spilled mustard on him while serving up a hot dog!!
 
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If the intent of the flight was recreational/hobby and money was later earned (for example someone saw one of the pics and wanted to buy a print or even the digital version) it's one thing. But if you're flying the property with the intent to post it online to publicize the property and the property is for sale it could be considered "Commercial". Lot's of grey area (that's an understatement) with the FAA's terms but it comes down to the intent of the flight itself.

Yes the OP stated "He said it was commercial use and I was not in compliance". If you have no connection to the property and it in no way benefited you or the property owner or developer then it's all good in terms of "Commercial Operations".


So long as you flew in a way that was safe and could not be construed any other way you'd be fine.
I was in a conference today and an FAA rep for the area that deals with drones did a presentation. Best ever since it put all the regulations stuff in layman terms. Same situation as started this thread. He said they are trying to educate people with a call and follow up 1st and then if it happens again, fines may follow. As for the commercial use, he had the same situation with real estate. He said FAA will look on social media and if it is on some commercial related item, it would fall under the commercial use, even if for hobby. I asked him about a similar situation if someone asks you to film something for them without compensation and they put it on their website or literature. Same thing...it is a commercial use.

He did say the best thing to do is if there is a question about what you are going to do or post, give the local FAA office a call to see if it is allowed as hobbyist or if commercial. He said they would rather field the questions before.

The good news for all of us, he did say, Part 107 is supposed to be finalized around June 20th. This will replace 333 process with a licensure with training for what amounts to a drone license. All 333 holders will be rolled into the new process and will not have to do 107 process. Applications will be reviewed at the local office, so it should go faster. It will require a written test with review classes. Classes sound like they will be through the FAA website and test will be administered at local airports. Have to renew with retaking written test every 2 years, same as pilots. So, more should be out very shortly!


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I know I over think this stuff but, the issues are in the details. Let's say I take photos or video of a home and give the video/photos to the owner. Just because I'm a swell fellow. Two years from now he wants to sell the home and uses the photos/video. You see where I'm going? The violation seems to be the USE of the photos for commercial purpose, which I'm not doing, and the FAA really shouldn't be regulating, but I may or may not be in violation now, two years later.
 

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