Drone on: Judge lifts FAA ban on unmanned aerial vehicles

Ruling paves way for real estate firms to expand their use of the flying machines
March 07, 2014 03:45PM

In a ruling that has sizable ramifications for the real estate industry, a federal judge this week lifted the moratorium on using small drones for commercial purposes.

According to Patrick Geraghty, an administrative law judge that investigates civil aviation accidents with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration can’t charge people for using drones at altitudes below 400 feet.

The FAA had attempted to fine a person who had disregarded the agency’s ban on operating drones. The prohibition was not drafted in an official rule-making process, however, so Geraghty dismissed the case and lifted the ban, Inman reported.

Major brokerages, real estate photographers, developers and marketing firms have deployed drones to capture unique aerial views of high-end properties for marketing purposes since early 2010, as The Real Deal previously reported. Halstead Property was the first New York City firm to use the photographic method. But other real estate companies have opted to use drones, including Sotheby’s International Realty, Douglas Elliman and Extell Development. [Inman] — Angela Hunt