FAA slaps drone-using realtors with subpoenas

Agency demanding to know exactly how technology is being used

TRD New York /
Jul.July 01, 2014 03:30 PM

Realtors who use drones to snap aerial shots of properties have been hit with subpoenas by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA, which has reportedly dropped subpoenas “all over the city and in the Hamptons,” a source with Halstead Property told the New York Post, is demanding to know exactly how the technology is being used. The move comes one week after the agency stated that the remote-controlled aircrafts cannot be used for commercial endeavors.

City real estate bigwigs who use drones include Time Equities and Alchemy Property, according to the Post.

“You can get [drones] online for 1,500 bucks,” an unnamed Corcoran broker told the Post. “It’s a lot cheaper than hiring a photographer and a plane for an aerial shot. As long as [the drones] aren’t used for spying, what’s the problem?”

The problem, according to the FAA, is that the drones in question have not been authorized for commercial use. As a result, an FAA source told the Post that agents could be fined if they don’t stop the drone activity.

“We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground, and the public expects us to carry out that mission,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a memo issued last week.

Leonard Steinberg, the newly-installed president of Urban Compass, told the Post that he avoids drones altogether and instead uses a balloon rigged with a camera.

“The city is so dense that the drones are extremely dangerous,” Steinberg said. “I think they are a huge liability. It’s like flying debris. It’s nuts — it scares me.” [NYP]Julie Strickland

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