Real estate industry prepares to battle FAA over drones

A drone and an aerial shot of a home
A drone and an aerial shot of a home

Drones have more or less replaced helium balloons and helicopters when it comes to snapping aerial photographs of luxury real estate. But the real estate industry is now butting heads with the Federal Aviation Authority over the issue.

Technically, drones require special approval for use in commercial settings, such as filming a movie, surveying crops, or, in this case, making a slick marketing video, according to FAA rules cited by the Palm Beach Post.

However, hobbyists are free to use drones as they please.

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“From an economic standpoint, we can’t just stand by and let this business pass,” said Paul Morris, owner of Miami Aerial. “My bone of contention is an amateur can go fly when a professional can’t. Who is more apt to have a problem?”

By the end of the year, the FAA is expected to release a proposed rule applying to drones weighing 55 pounds or less that would ban the use of drones for commercial gain. And already, real estate photographers are clamoring for legal exemptions.

“It’s getting more and more heated, especially in the real estate field,” Ben Gielow, general counsel for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said. “A lot of realtors are using this technology, but not necessarily talking about it broadly.” [PBP]Christopher Cameron