A major federal drone rule took effect yesterday. But if you’re a visual creative who uses your drone for your work, what exactly does it mean?
More Remote, Less Control
When I was a kid, my older brother had a remote controlled car. It was the black and gold Firebird from the movie Smokey and the Bandit. I loved it, but I wasn’t allowed to play with it.
One day I couldn’t resist, and took it for a spin. I was sure I could drive it around a pool. On the return leg of the trip, I got confused when the car was coming towards me. I jammed the controller to the left, and the car made a sharp turn. Facing me, that meant it went right.
It launched itself over the lip of the pool and into the water. The car never worked again, and I got in serious trouble. But the jump was worth it. I even imagined the roar of the engine as it sailed over and into the water.
A lot has changed about remote control technology since then. You’ve probably noticed drones have become wildly popular lately. I included them on my list of best visual lifestyle gifts in 2015.
They are safer, more stable, and much easier to control. Some shoot high definition photos and video. And, people are coming up with all kinds of incredible uses for the technology.
The FAA has recognized this trend for several years, and is stepping in. There have already been incidents related to drone use, from surly neighbors shooting them out of the skies to impacts with commercial air flights. As drones and their amateur pilots increase, accidents will be more likely.
Although the ruling that took effect yesterday is just a start, it is a positive step in the direction of public safety. And while there are bound to be snags and disagreements with any new rules, the changes are meant to keep the public safe.
So if you’re a visual creative and rely on a drone for your work, there are a few things you should know. (Note: This isn’t an exhaustive list. To be safe, see more here.)
Here’s a quick summary of the rule:
- Pilots must fly during daylight hours. Although night flight rules are in the works, the new rule restricts flights to daytime only.
- Pilots must always have a direct view of their drone. This is part of the reason for the rule above. Rules are also being developed that may allow flights out of direct view of their pilots.
- Drones must not be flown over the public. People directly involved with the flight are exempt. Otherwise, flying over a crowd is a bad idea.
- To become certified drone operators, pilots must pass a test of aviation knowledge. This is to protect public airspace and prevent drone-to-aircraft incidents.
- Drones must be flown under 400 feet. Although apparently rather low, this limit also is meant to protect anyone above that ceiling.
- Drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, including cargo. This rule appears to prevent heavy cargo from altering a drone’s flying capabilities.
If you’re a photographer or videographer, drone footage may be an exciting topic. But with such fast growth in both technology and numbers of pilots, incidents are bound to happen.
One of the foundational concepts of living the visual lifestyle is body and eye safety. You owe it to yourself and others to become familiar with safety regulations as you pursue your work. Make sure you review the new rules, and stay alert for more down the road.
And, happy flying!
Question: Have you ever flown a drone? If so, for what purpose? Please answer in the comments below.
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