There will be a time when Realtors can legally fly an unmanned aerial system, or drone, around property listings to capture images for marketing purposes, but that time has not yet arrived, at least not completely.
That’s according to Federal Aviation Administration officials who told Realtors today during the When, Where and How can I Use My Drone session at the Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
According to Jim Williams, manager of FAA’s UAS Integration Office, the agency’s administrator Michael Huerta is committed to quickly finalizing the federal rules for the commercial use of UAS in national airspace, which is currently prohibited. Until that time, Realtors can apply for a Section 333 waiver, which provides a limited-use permit to the applicant and comes with many safety restrictions on use of the machine.
Panelist Doug Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tuscon, Ariz., the first Realtor to apply for and receive a Section 333 exemption from the FAA to create marketing videos for property listings, discussed the waiver application process and offered advice to other Realtors who are interested in pursuing a waiver.
After contacting an attorney with the FAA, Trudeau said he did several weeks of research on his own and chose to complete the application without hiring a private attorney.
The guidelines are fairly clear, Trudeau said, but he could have saved himself some headaches if he had logged his previous UAS flying times and made sure his quadcopter was built in the U.S., because the FAA will not register a UAS that is registered by any foreign government.
From start to finish, the process took Trudeau 170 days, but he said it should go a lot faster for new applicants. “The FAA, in all reality, has made it easier today for you than it was for me a year ago,” he told the Realtors in attendance.
Williams agreed, and said that thanks to Doug Trudeau, it’s become easier to apply for real estate videography waivers. The FAA has received more than 1,200 waiver applications, approved 311, and is on track to approve 20 to 40 waivers each week.