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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the only-criminals-will-have-commercial-drones dept.

Businesses 199

mpicpp (3454017) writes For months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating realtors who use drones to film their properties. Now, Forbes has learned that the FAA's investigations have succeeded in intimidating NRT —the nation's largest residential real estate brokerage company — into advising their members to not only cease flying drones as part of their work, but to also cease using drone footage. This is a troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA's rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones. Currently, the FAA does not prohibit the use of drones for a hobby — flying over your home and taking pictures of it for fun is allowed, but because real estate drones take pictures for a commercial purpose, the FAA prohibits their use.

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Dear Fed (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 months ago | (#47437727)

Drone? It was a model airplane, a teleguided kiddie zeppelin, a weather balloon, a ...

Re:Dear Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437735)

Who do you call a drone? How dare you? I was flying that damned helicopter myself.

Re:Dear Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438369)

kiss my ass, FTA! my buttonhole too!

Re:Dear Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437765)

Actually, I don't want commercial helicopters flying over my house.

Re:Dear Fed (1)

phrostie (121428) | about 4 months ago | (#47437795)

i mixed opinions on this.

does the same rule apply to SpaceX when they film one of their tests?

Re:Dear Fed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437889)

SpaceX has FAA approval for everything they do.

Re:Dear Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437917)

I imagine that in their case, it was a "Fuckin'-A Approval". ;)

Re:Dear Fed (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 4 months ago | (#47437929)

... camera strapped to a very long pole.

Re:Dear Fed (1)

westlake (615356) | about 4 months ago | (#47438265)

Drone? It was a model airplane, a teleguided kiddie zeppelin, a weather balloon, a ...

If it is being used for commercial purposes, it is no longer a child's toy or an adult's R/C model aircraft.

Re:Dear Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438303)

its still not a drone either,

RC airplane enthusaists have had many contests with prize money in the past does that make the winner who takes money for his act of flying an rc plane a professional drone pilot and is now banned from using his rc plane ever again?

Not a rule (5, Insightful)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 4 months ago | (#47437743)

The FAA hasn't issued any "rule" only a policy guideline which is unenforceable. Most people don't know that and the FAA is counting on intimidation to do their dirty work for them.

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about 4 months ago | (#47437809)

This administration has had this same 'if you don't like it too bad' attitude since day 1.

http://dailycaller.com/2014/06... [dailycaller.com]

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437847)

This administration has. So has the last one. That's where this one learned they could get away with it.

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438165)

This administration has. So has the last one. That's where this one learned they could get away with it.

"Blame BOOOSH!!!" is getting fucking old. It's been six fucking years.

I don't know what's more pathetic - your posting that, or someone modding you up.

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438307)

As much as I would love to blame Bush for this, the FAA has controlled the airspace for many decades. The last thing we need is random aircraft crashing into each other and crashing into things on the ground.

Yes, it is taking them a long time to finalize the rules, but considering the possibilities that are likely around the corner, it would be better to get the rules as comprehensive as possible rather than have to issue a ton of major corrections to them when folks like Amazon start using them for deliveries.

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (5, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | about 4 months ago | (#47438449)

The problem with the approach the FAA has been taking on this issue is that the deciding factor is whether money changes hands. If an activity is safe for a hobbyist to perform, why is it suddenly dangerous and in need of regulation when a professional does it? If anything, commercially operated remote controlled planes/helicopters would be safer in a given situation, as the parent company is going to have real liability insurance, and the insurer is going to have all sorts of maintenance and training requirements.

Re:Not a rule - Not just the FAA (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#47438559)

If you are trying to ban non government use of drones, getting rid of all "reasonable" uses of drones is a required first step.

Re:Not a rule (2, Interesting)

MatthiasF (1853064) | about 4 months ago | (#47437817)

FAA has no authority below the mandated altitudes for air travel. Property owners have air rights above their property up to the FAA's mandated altitudes or as locally mandated by code.

So, the FAA should kindly go fuck itself. It does not tell us what we can do in the immediate vicinity around our homes or property.

If I want to hire a drone to do a fly through of my home, or my realtor offers to do it themselves, I will do it and the feds can shove their rules as far up their ass as they please.

Re:Not a rule (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47437983)

So, the FAA should kindly go fuck itself.

Please don't say things like that. You might give them an idea (they won't think of them on their own). Godzilla was created under less extreme circumstances.

Re:Not a rule (5, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 months ago | (#47438365)

FAA has no authority below the mandated altitudes for air travel.

Wrong. FAA's authority applies to any flying vehicle in the airspace of this country. Don't believe me? Here's the quote from the law that established the FAA [gpo.gov] :

The Administrator is authorized and directed to develop plans for and formulate policy with respect to the use of the navigable airspace; and assign by rule, regulation, or order the use of the navigable airspace under such terms, conditions, and limitations as he may deem necessary in order to insure the safety of aircraft and the efficient utilization of such airspace. He may modify or revoke such assignment when required in the public interest.

Property owners have air rights above their property up to the FAA's mandated altitudes or as locally mandated by code.

Nope. Another common misconception, but "he United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States." (source) [cornell.edu] .

Consider reading the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] for some interpretation. Basically the idea is that you have airspace rights to the extent that you can use the space to have useful stuff on it (i.e., you can't build a 600 foot pole just to keep planes away, it has to be for some useful purpose). It's not at all clear that using drones grants you these rights, since they're definitely more aircraft than building.

So, the FAA should kindly go fuck itself. It does not tell us what we can do in the immediate vicinity around our homes or property.

If I want to hire a drone to do a fly through of my home, or my realtor offers to do it themselves, I will do it and the feds can shove their rules as far up their ass as they please.

Nobody's talking about flying a drone inside your house, they're talking about flying one over your house. You know, airspace. As far as thumbing your nose at the FAA - go nuts, but be prepared to win in court, suffer the consequences, or start a (successful) revolution. You could say the same thing about any other law or regulation - it's basically a question if whether you accept the rule of law or not.

Just so we're all clear on the sequence of events: the law creates the FAA and says "you regulate our airspace". The FAA, in the course of performing its legal mandate, creates a number of regulations (such as how pilots and aircraft are certified, standards for airports and navigation, etc) through a process called "rulemaking". They also issue more specific interpretations of the rules they've already enacted. (None of this is unusual; all federal agencies work the same way.) One such opinion decides that drones are basically model aircraft and that's OK so long as they follow the rules - one of which is no commercial use. The court decided that an opinion wasn't good enough here, so the FAA is going through the rulemaking process like they're supposed to. The end result will not be "yeah do whatever the hell you want", it'll probably be "be a hobbyist model aircraft (and comply with the rules, including noncommercial use) or get certified like an aircraft/pilot".

Re:Not a rule (2)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 4 months ago | (#47438611)

Keyword is "navigable airspace" though. FAA has established authority over "navigable airspace" only which FAA itself defines as

'"Navigable airspace" is airspace at or above the minimum altitudes of flight prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulations, and must include airspace needed to ensure safety in the takeoff and landing of aircraft.' https://www.faa.gov/air_traffi... [faa.gov]

So what is the minimum altitude of flight? I would bet that it excludes the entire range where drones can fly as they can fly pretty darn low. It must be some number, so if it is e.g. 100m, so drones that fly under 100m should be clear, should they not?

Not saying that some regulation isn't needed, just that the existing one does not apply.

Use illegals (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437843)

Just tell them you are an illegal migrant operating the drone. Those people are allowed to break any laws and be upheld as the greatest citizens of the country. Its just you middle class, tax paying, law abiding citizens that the administration has contempt for.

Hell, if you are illegal you don't even need ID to get past the TSA to board commercial flights anymore. story [breitbart.com] . So the FAA doesn't apply its laws to illegals, just people who haven't broken the law.

Tea-Bagger Click Bait (0)

westlake (615356) | about 4 months ago | (#47438385)

Just tell them you are an illegal migrant operating the drone. Those people are allowed to break any laws and be upheld as the greatest citizens of the country...

There is long history --- back to the very beginning, really ---- of illegal immigrants being employed - or simply being used --- by the middle class ---- and there are few countries in the world who imprison more of their illegals and citizens both than we do.

Re:Not a rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437855)

The FAA seems to be doing a pretty good job of enforcing their "unenforceable" policies.

Re:Not a rule (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 months ago | (#47438171)

Those policy guidelines say "we think we can enforce this rule in this way". They may be wrong, but you'd have to go to court to find out, because they intend to sue anyone who violates their interpretation.

Re:Not a rule (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 4 months ago | (#47438299)

They have already been slapped down by the courts over this once. I would be happy to slap them again.

Re:Not a rule (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 months ago | (#47438383)

Go nuts. Their policy notice (basically "we interpret the already-existing regulations in this way") was struck down as insufficiently supported, so they're going through the official rulemaking process to make an actual regulation out of it. I suggest you keep an eye on that (there is a public comment period), because that will not be struck down and I guarantee that getting hit with it will hurt. Oh, and it'll probably be something like "be a model aircraft (with all the restrictions, including noncommercial use) or the drone and person have to be certified like aircraft and pilots" - not exactly "do whatever you want"

EFF is working to combat this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437755)

When I awake and look in the mirror each morning, I'm amazed and grateful for the loveliness of my white skin. About 90% of the world is non-white, so I am a minority on planet earth, but I would not trade my gorgeous white heritage for all the tea in China. Fellow members of the white minority group, stand up and be proud of your race. It is a war out there, and your skin is your uniform.

Bring back Al Gore to the senate? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437761)

He didn't invent the internet, he sponsored a bill to all the internet to be used for commercial purposes, rather than be limited to hobbyist and educational uses. The rest was history.

If the goal is to protect currently entrenched interests and prevent development, then the FAA is succeeding.

Re:Bring back Al Gore to the senate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438331)

That's ridiculous Libertarian bullshit. Somebody has to write the rules about what is and isn't allowed for flight and the FAA is really the only body in the US that has the experience necessary to do it.

There's already been fatalities from out of control flying devices. If Amazon is really serious about using them for deliveries, then there's going to be a greatly increased amount of traffic and a greatly increased likelihood of people being killed by drones.

Bottom line here is that as popular as it is for the numbnuts around here to bitch about the government regulating things, it's far worse than having anarchy in the skies above major cities. The exemptions for hobbyists are mainly because those aircraft rarely go very far or travel very fast. If the types of large helicopters that are available now had been available at the start, there would have been a licensing requirement for that as well.

Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to take (4, Insightful)

tgeller (10260) | about 4 months ago | (#47437767)

From the post:

"This is a troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA's rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones."

Nope. It's a completely appropriate action according to the FAA's mandate and charter. It's their exact *job*.

Whether it's an appropriate restriction is to be debated.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (4, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | about 4 months ago | (#47437825)

I am usually a pretty big skeptic when it comes to regulation but I gotta agree with you here.

This seems like a federal agency operating well withing the boundaries of what it was established to do. I also think we do need some management of [commercial] drones, do to the sheer numbers and the fact that most operators are flying over other peoples properties, where crashes could cause damage or injury.

People doing purely as a hobby problem I would be more skeptical of the need to regulate them. There numbers are few enough and lets be honest most of the air craft they would be operating will remain small and light; we can probably expect incidents form their use to be infrequent enough and small enough in severity to sort out in our local small claims courts at least until that proves not to be the case.

The real-estate folks though are using the drones commercial and if we let every real-estate agent, grounds keep, delivery boy, paper boy, etc; fly a drone with no management whatsoever that is hell of lot of drones in air! Some of those crafts might start getting bigger and heavier pretty quickly as well.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437899)

So, why not wait for it to be a problem? Too much in-advance regulation has too many unintended consequences. Is there a problem, now, other than the FAA rules? Why not wait for it to be a problem in order to better define what the problem is (i.e., something other than "it's against the rules.").

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437963)

So, why not wait for it to be a problem?

Because we're not grasshoppers, but intelligent people who can realize that too little in the way of addressing problems has even more unintended consequences.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438343)

You make it sound like they're sitting in a backroom somewhere twirling their mustaches and contemplating how to ruin the industry so that commercial flight will be safe.

More likely, it's taking a long time because they're consulting with lobbyists and trying to get the rules right. I'd expect that whatever regulations they come up with will under-regulate the airspace rather than over-regulating them. These aircraft are much less likely to kill anybody than a fully loaded jumbo jet flying at 30,000 feet.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 4 months ago | (#47438389)

So, why not wait for it to be a problem?

FAA has historically taken this approach towards regulation and they catch flak for doing it that way, too. Many of the FARs exist because someone died doing XYZ in or with an aircraft, so they made a new rule that says you can't do XYZ in or with an aircraft.

RC aircraft have been a hobby for many years and most enthusiasts stick to a stringent set of (voluntary) safety rules developed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Now that "drones" have become popular, widely available, and relatively cheap, thousands of people are playing around with them and they aren't the responsible hobbyist type. You can get a camera capable quadcopter for under $100, they even sell one model at Wal-Mart. Many of the folks buying these couldn't care less about a voluntary code of safety, and I'm on the FAA's side here, there need to be rules with teeth to back them up.

Putting anything in the air for commercial purposes has always been heavily regulated and I for one don't see that as a problem.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 4 months ago | (#47438495)

I think that it's hard to draw a logical link between someone buying a quadcopter and Wal-Mart and doing something irresponsible with it because they aren't a dedicated member of the RC community, and a commercial entity using a RC planes/helicopters in the course of their enterprise.

In the former case, it seems that the issue is that technological advance has removed the barriers to entry that have historically regulated access to these machines to those who have a responsible and dedicated interest in the field. Perhaps regulations are needed as to the capabilities and safety features of "cheap" RC craft, similar to how there are limits on the model rocket parts you can buy at the big-box.

In the later case, for-profit companies use all manner of potentially dangerous equipment, often in places where it might come in contact with the public. Imagine if the DOT prohibited taking a vehicle on the Interstate for a commercial purpose; it would be absurd. Instead, you can drive the company pickup just the same as if you were driving your own. Then, for larger vehicles or those being used in a non-standard manner, there is a system of commercial driving licenses and insurances.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#47438587)

So then we'll need a Drone License. And the police will as well, clearly. At least we'll have rules about what police drones are allowed to do.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (4, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47437841)

Nope. It's a completely appropriate action according to the FAA's mandate and charter. It's their exact *job*.

Maybe. But then perhaps its time for Congress to rewrite the mandate and take the commercial/hobby distinction out.

Leave them with the safety and certification roles. But the operation of drones needs to be consistent across all uses. Something isn't more or less safe if money changes hands. We (the USA) are going to be left behind as other jurisdictions allow commercial drone use, subject to rules compliance. Commercial use brings money into the industry, which pays for R&D and the refinement of safety rules. US manufacturers don't have the ability to participate in this, leaving the business to foreign concerns. That is definitely NOT the FAA's charter.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (2)

tgeller (10260) | about 4 months ago | (#47437897)

"Something isn't more or less safe if money changes hands."

No, but:

a) Other factors come into play when money changes hands -- issues of liability, scale, entitlements, conversion of public benefits....

b) Commercial exceptions are well-established in U.S. law.. If you want to argue they shouldn't be, you'll have to go back something like a hundred years. These restrictions have been very good for the country, though, so you'd have an uphill battle.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (4, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47438021)

Commercial exceptions are well-established in U.S. law.

But this isn't a case of a commercial exception. Commercial aircraft operators are subject to far more stringent regulations than private/recreational*. And that's fine, particularly for passenger carriers. For the public on the ground, I want the regulations to treat commercial and private safety equally. I'm not going to be happier if some billionaire drops his personal 737 on my house than if it was Southwest Airlines. On the other hand, once a drone operator 'goes comercial', I would expect them to carry liability insurance and have deep pockets to protect. As a result, I'd be more comfortable with a business operated drone than a hobby flyer over my house.

This is just like Uber and Lyft vs New York City. The entrenched cab interests have one way of doing things and they are using their regulatory agency to block new technology. The same appears to be happening for flight serice companies. Piloted aircraft for hire are having the FAA protect their turf.

*The general aviation manufacturing business almost went under in this country until legislation was passed to limit their liability. That runs counter to the idea that there is an atmosphere of business exception in this country.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 4 months ago | (#47438315)

By very good you mean anyting labeled 'commercial' costs three times as much....yeah its been fucking great.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47437901)

But the operation of drones needs to be consistent across all uses.

Why? You go on to promote commercial drone use, so it seems unlikely that banning of hobby use would satisfy you.

A distinction can be drawn and so there's no reason not to. Hobby use is likely to remain low, with a small number of people perhaps flying for an hour or two a week. Commercial use on the other hand is likely to be far more pervasive and intrusive. Better to assume they are not allowed and grant specific permissions for uses where the gain to society is seen to outweigh the costs.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438361)

Right and I'd wager that most hobbyists are people like myself that are operating tiny aircraft that aren't going to do much damage even if they do collide with a person. I do have one "large" helicopter, but it's a few years old and doesn't move very quickly. It would be incredibly challenging to hit somebody, even if I were trying to.

If the really large ones start becoming common or inexpensive, then it might make sense to place a limit on the size of aircraft that can be controlled without a license. Similar to what the FCC does with radios.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (2)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 months ago | (#47438001)

It's time for Congress to do a lot of things. But when was the last time Congress did anything at all? Has there been even a single non-trivial piece of legislation in the entire 113th? Was there any in the 112th?

The bar to legislation is fairly high and there's always a large set of voters prepared to punish their legislators for allowing anything through that would be seen as a victory for the other side or even as a compromise with them, regardless of the issue. Those Congressmen have been trained in a Pavlovian fashion to loudly denounce anything anybody tries to do.

So don't expect Congress to fix this, or anything else.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (0)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47438329)

Maybe. But then perhaps its time for Congress to rewrite the mandate and take the commercial/hobby distinction out.

As a hobbyist, no offense but I tell you to STFU. The FAA has gone out of its way to allow hobbyists their niche, and there was nobody and nothing to ever tell them they had to. It is a special exemption, and one that has carefully laid out limits. I appreciate that. If you get your way, the whole goddam thing will just be closed down, because it's completely irrelevant to the mandate to regulate and oversee civil aviation. Nobody will be allowed to sling speeding weights through the air for any purpose, outside the bounds of customary civil aviation.

Let Amazon develop their tech ON THEIR OWN TEST RANGE PROPERTY under experimental rules. As far as I know nobody tells anybody what they can do under those conditions. After they have built up an adequate history proving safety under realistic conditions, then let them apply for type approval like anybody else. And if they are going to fly these hurtling objects down town streets, let them convince all localities they should be allowed to do so.

that's not the FAA's job (5, Insightful)

silfen (3720385) | about 4 months ago | (#47437895)

The FAA was created to regulate passenger and air traffic, not to assert arbitrary authority over any airspace above our heads.

And even with the massive mission creep, airplanes need to stay 1000ft above any buildings on private settled land. What you do below that on your land is your own business, and it should stay your own business.

That means that if you want to shoot down low-flying Amazon delivery drones, you should be able to do that. Likewise, if you want to fly your own drone to take pictures of your own property, you should be able to do that too as long as you stay below 1000ft.

And make no mistake, FAA's attempts to assert authority have nothing to do with safety. The motivating factor here is power and money. Ultimately, the FAA wants to assert rights over the non-aviation airspace over your property, something they never had any say about in the past. And the people benefiting from it won't be you, it will be a few wealthy corporations that will be flying low-flying drones through your backyard whether you want to or not.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47437959)

The FAA was created to regulate passenger and air traffic

Drones are air traffic.

And make no mistake, FAA's attempts to assert authority have nothing to do with safety.

For sure there's a safety angle to drone regulation. A toy drone probably weighs a few ounces, but commercial uses of drones will include much heavier vehicles. There's Amazon's plans, plus the existing illegal use by smugglers that show the way that's going to go.

But there's also the intrusiveness aspect. Sunbathers may not want their gardens overflying, nobody wants a drone hovering outside their bedroom window.

Drones are certainly not something that some be free from regulations.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 4 months ago | (#47438057)

What is the risk of a drone hovering 100 feet up taking photos of a house?

Just have the FAA issue $50 ADS-B transponders which anybody can install on a drone or aircraft and that would probably do a lot more to promote collision avoidance than keeping people from taking pictures of their own houses.

As far as heavy drones go - regulate them like baseballs hit into windows and such. You don't need a license to operate a baseball and yet we don't have them showering down on our cars all day long.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about 4 months ago | (#47438105)

ADS-B transponders start at $2500.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47438141)

What is the risk of a drone hovering 100 feet up taking photos of a house?

What's the risk of a box of electronics, possibly with cargo, falling out of the sky?

Just have the FAA issue $50 ADS-B transponders

Just? Will the system scale? And in what way will it stop faulty drones from falling out of the sky?

As far as heavy drones go - regulate them like baseballs hit into windows and such. You don't need a license to operate a baseball and yet we don't have them showering down on our cars all day long.

A drone carrying cargo is not like a baseball, and no amount of regulation will make it so.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 4 months ago | (#47438097)

No, it's not "air traffic" because it's not "traffic": it is simply something you do on your private property in your private airspace, airspace that you own. It's the FAA's job to keep traffic out of your private airspace. It isn't their job to regulate what you do there.

And you are absolutely right that there is a safety aspect there and that I don't want a drone outside my bedroom window. That is why the FAA's attempts to assert jurisdiction over my private airspace are so disconcerting, because if the FAA has jurisdiction, they can (and don't kid yourself, will) allow Amazon to violate what is currently my private property.

You are erroneously assuming that the FAA is trying to protect you and your rights, when the only consequence of the extension of their jurisdiction is to take away your property rights and prepare for intrusions into what used to be something that you had total control over as a property owner.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47438179)

You seem to believe you own the airspace over your land.

The government has control of the airspace above your property "above minimal safe altitudes of flight". So by definition, if a drone can safely fly there, it's in the government's control, not yours.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#47438219)

A drone can and does fly safely 1 foot off the floor of my living room. Should the FAA protect it from my cats and dogs? They (hide/bark from a safe distance) so no issue.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47438311)

That's not "above your property".

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47437997)

That means that if you want to shoot down low-flying Amazon delivery drones, you should be able to do that

Please run for Congress....

Re:that's not the FAA's job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437999)

You are free to make up any rules you wish for drones. In my world regulations for the use of airspace by drones will gradually evolve subject to public comments, perhaps congressional hearing and ultimately a slew of court cases.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47438015)

That means that if you want to shoot down low-flying Amazon delivery drones, you should be able to do that.

Well, no. Not unless you can account for ballistics, and the drop zone for your projectiles. But perhaps you should be permitted to use a tethered net launcher.

Likewise, if you want to fly your own drone to take pictures of your own property, you should be able to do that too as long as you stay below 1000ft.

Or any public property. Whether the restrictions on line-of-sight are reasonable is a whole other discussion (my thought is "maybe") but public lands belong to all of us. As always, the thing must be operated in a manner which does not represent a realistic risk to others.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 4 months ago | (#47438113)

I can account for ballistics, yes. Kind of depends on the size of the property doesn't it?

Furthermore, there is no need for regulation there. If I were stupid enough to injure you by taking reckless action against a drone that was violating my private property, you can already recover damages and penalties under existing law; there are no new regulations needed.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438257)

"That means that if you want to shoot down low-flying Amazon delivery drones, you should be able to do that. "

You'll think different about that once someone shoots down a drone and it crashes on your car, dog, wife or child.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 months ago | (#47438291)

"The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States." And they've delegated the administration of it to the FAA. The only air rights you have over your property are those you can reasonably use in connection with the property, e.g. adding another storey to your house. It's not at all clear that drones are more "stuff related to your use of the property" than aircraft - that's the question, right? (IANAL)

And it's 500 feet, unless you're in a "congested area" like a city (where it is 1000 feet). Even then, it doesn't apply if the aircraft is that low for the purposes of takeoff or landing, so everyone within a few miles of any runway threshold will have planes closer than 500 feet.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47438391)

Actually, sport aviation under ultralight rules does not have minimum altitude rules per se. And no, you are not allowed to shoot them down. Yes, they could get into trouble doing blatantly dangerous or intrusive things. And I believe they themselves would take umbrage if you operated your drones in any manner dangerous to them. They certainly have the law firmly on their side on that one.

Re:that's not the FAA's job (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47438465)

It will induce drone makers to start donating to Congress (cynical, but difficult to actually disprove that's the reason for the regulation, not the ostensible surface reasons) and in short order, people here on Slashdot will be talking about the corrupting influence of drone makers on Congress.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 months ago | (#47437979)

I wasn't aware the FAA's mandate went down to 12' in residential areas.

Cool.

No it isn't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438009)

Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and part of that act requires the FAA to have published final rulings allowing civil use of small unmanned aircraft by now. They have failed to do so, as even their hobby drone guidelines are not final rules, and rules were to be based on what is safe, not some artificial commercial/hobby segregation. They have failed to follow congresses' mandate.

Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 4 months ago | (#47438091)

People do get killed by these things.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09... [nytimes.com]

http://www.nydailynews.com/new... [nydailynews.com]

Re: Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to ta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438275)

People also get killed shoving glass bottles up their butt on purpose. What's your point?

Re: Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to ta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438347)

Some people survive that though:

http://www.1man1jar.org [1man1jar.org]

But with a pilot it's still ok? (1, Funny)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 4 months ago | (#47437779)

I think it's time for Nibbles the Hamster to get a pilot's license and go to work for real estate. With him in the cockpit, it's no longer a drone, right? He will also get some mini pilot goggles, because it will look adorable and no judge would ever convict.

Re: But with a pilot it's still ok? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438003)

It was explained to me that our local farmers can only check their own crops. If a farmer buys a drone, gets good at checking his crops, and then charges his neighbor to check hers, the operator needs a commercial pilots license. Out here in the middle of nowhere flyover country, they are pretty much saying this is ridiculous, F@&k You FAA.

"troubling development" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437805)

> troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA's rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones

There's nothing troubling about this and whether or not it's "safe commercial use" is for the FAA to decide, which is exactly what they're doing here.

Movies (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about 4 months ago | (#47437813)

It is common for the the movie industry to shoot scenes from drones. So they can't do that anymore? I am sure however Hollywood can do what ever the want, for the are the golden lamb.

Re:Movies (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 4 months ago | (#47437891)

I know its a fun conspiracy theory and all but I don't think the double standard is deliberate, even if it does exist.

The real-estate lobby is probably only slightly less powerful than the Hollywood lobby. I mean lets see:

There are huge tax advantages for income properties, in terms of you can take losses against capital gains on them, but you can't on a property you used as a residence? Why?

The mortgage interest tax deduction -- exists almost exclusively to increase borrowing power and willingness, which DOES NOT really help buyers and owners, it just pushes values up in general which means banks get more interest realtors and title companies get bigger commissions.

There was never any real financial reform done; and if look into the debate carefully you can't count that all up to GOP obstructionism non of the proposals from the left did much to address predatory lending or liar loans/documentation requirements.

Given how much Gall Street has tied up in it the only thing more untouchable to regulators than Hollywood might be Real-Estate.

Re:Movies (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 months ago | (#47438309)

I know its a fun conspiracy theory and all but I don't think the double standard is deliberate, even if it does exist.

The only real double standard is that the government is rapidly advancing its UAV technology while keeping private industry from doing so. Notice how Greenpeace floated a blimp over the NSA data center? Good for publicity but not the most efficient way to gather the photos they did.

Amazon shouldn't be calling them drones, though - drones kill Pakistani children, aerobots save puppies [newhavenindependent.org] .

Re:Movies (2)

Shoten (260439) | about 4 months ago | (#47437945)

Actually, it's vastly more common to use a helicopter, though that is going to change soon...but in favor of much bigger drones than are used by realtors. My significant other is a producer of documentary content (which uses tons of aerial shots) and they follow a much more stringent process than any realtor does. There's insurance, for one thing, for every aerial shooting session. Insurance for liability, insurance for the aircraft, insurance for the camera (aircraft and camera almost never go together...which is one level of complexity and uncertainty that would go bye-bye with a drone...but at the cost of a certain degree of flexibility as well; you can't specify that a drone will carry a Red, for example) insurance for the pilot, insurance for the cameraman. There are permits that are filed as well, and these vary enormously by jurisdiction. But it's a huge task just to put the shoot together; they don't just drive up with some kind of aircraft and start flying around.

Re:Movies (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47437975)

It is common for the the movie industry to shoot scenes from drones.

Your assertion doesn't appear to be true.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/04/... [cnn.com]

This is the way it SHOULD happen. An overall prohibition on drones then specific exceptions for uses where the benefits to society are seen to outweigh the costs.

Re:Movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438069)

This is the way it SHOULD happen.

Serious question - why?

Our government was formed with quite the opposite ideal: Overall liberty, with specific exceptions against uses where harm is done to society outweighing the benefit.

Re:Movies (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 4 months ago | (#47438193)

This is the way it SHOULD happen. An overall prohibition on drones then specific exceptions for uses where the benefits to society are seen to outweigh the costs

You have your entire concept of liberty, and of the constitution, exactly backwards.

Should every new concept, innovation, invention, tool, technique, strategy, and technology be prohibited by default? What the hell is wrong with you? If I come up with a clever new way of slicing deli meat, should I be prohibited from using it or showing someone else how to use it until I've sufficiently begged an un-elected, un-accountable agency bureaucrat to allow me to use it?

And in the case at hand, picture two people standing right next to each other. Each has their hands on the controls of a 4-pound plastic quadcopter carrying a GoPro. Each takes off, sends the little machine up to 45 feet above the same house. Each of them use the device to record the condition of the houses's gutters, sparing somebody a couple hours of putting up a dangerous extension ladder a dozen times. Each of them get the job done in minutes, and land their little quad back down in the driveway right next to each other. You think that one of those two people should be banned from what the both just did, but the other should not. Why? Be very specific.

Re:Movies (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#47438323)

You have your entire concept of liberty, and of the constitution, exactly backwards.

It;s clearly different from yours. But one could describe yours as being backwards just as easily as mine. It's simply a matter of perspective.

Should every new concept, innovation, invention, tool, technique, strategy, and technology be prohibited by default? What the hell is wrong with you?

What the hell is the matter with you, asking a question, and then assuming an answer. A WRONG answer.

No, I never said "every" anything. I said drones. Period.

Drones come into the category of the tragedy of the commons. Deli slicers don't. That being said for different reasons, there are plenty of regulations applying to deli slicers.

And in the case at hand, picture two people standing right next to each other. Each has their hands on the controls of a 4-pound plastic quadcopter carrying a GoPro.

Personally I'd say they were flying model aircraft not drones.

As to the distinction between private use and commercial use, this distinction applies in other areas too, such as using a car to take people where they ask. If you are doing it for free, or nothing more than fuel cost split, no problem. If you are doing it commercially then you tend to require a permit.

Re:Movies (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 4 months ago | (#47438373)

But one could describe yours as being backwards just as easily as mine. It's simply a matter of perspective.

If by that you mean that clearly written words in the English language have no actual meaning, then sure, I guess. If you mean that the Constitution, and the countless supporting documents and correspondence written to, between and about its authors and the large groups of representatives that agreed on its purpose and amendments to it were just setting us with something that had no actual meaning, then sure. But that's BS, and you know it.

No, I never said "every" anything. I said drones. Period.

The Constitution makes no such distinctions between one tool and the next. But of course the people who wrote it were very clear that there were some tools that some people would - given a period of power in the congress - try to deny to the public, and so they added amendment that explicitly reminded the government that it cannot act in those areas. The Constitution is built around the concept that the government's powers over what you may or may not do it inherently limited to the things that are enumerated therein, and generally prohibited otherwise, with the states having all such other authority. This isn't a matter of "perspective," and it isn't true for certain tools, and false for other tools. If you think that "drones" (but not, say, chain saws) should be singled out for capricious bans by the federal government despite laws recently passed by the congress explicitly to the contrary, then you're completely missing the point.

Personally I'd say they were flying model aircraft not drones.

Semantic games like that show how completely unserious you are.

... using a car to take people where they ask. If you are doing it for free, or nothing more than fuel cost split, no problem. If you are doing it commercially then you tend to require a permit.

A matter decided upon, legislatively. at the municipal, county, and (rarely) state level. Not by capricious extra-legal, counter-constitutional fiat from a political appointee of the White House, as in the case at hand.

Re:Movies (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 4 months ago | (#47438335)

Thats not Liberty at all.

The FAA needs to follow the law. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437857)

In the FAA Modernization And Reform Act of 2012 [gpo.gov] congress required the following:

SEC. 332.
(a)(4) REPORT TO CONGRESS .—Not later than 1 year after the
date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Con-
gress a copy of the plan required under paragraph (1). ...
(b) RULEMAKING .—Not later than 18 months after the date on
which the plan required under subsection (a)(1) is submitted to Con-
gress under subsection (a)(4), the Secretary shall publish in the Fed-
eral Register—
(1) a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems that
will allow for civil operation of such systems in the national
airspace system, to the extent the systems do not meet the re-
quirements for expedited operational authorization under sec-
tion 333 of this Act;

This law was passed on 1 Feb 2012. I don't know the exact date that the FAA made their report to congress, but even assuming that they waited till the last possible day, that would mean their final rule on small unmanned aircraft is due on 1 Aug 2014. Banning commercial use of small unnmanned aircraft is not "allowing for civil operation of such systems", so the FAA either is or soon will be operating in direct contradiction to the law passed by congress.

Worse, the rules and guidelines that they have created didn't follow the required process for creating new regulations, in particular they were effected without any public comment period, something a judge already slapped them down for. Come 1 Aug the FAA can claim small commercial drone use is illegal all they want, but the courts aren't going to back them up.

mod this up (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47437981)

thanks for that information. I have not seen this yet. Wish i had mod points

Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 4 months ago | (#47438225)

so the FAA either is or soon will be operating in direct contradiction to the law passed by congress

Why should the FAA, which is part of the Obama administration, feel any urge whatsoever to enforce or obey laws passed by congress? We have ample precedent of him using the pen and phone about which he so regularly boasts to simply do what he wants anyway, even in direct contradiction of plain language in the laws he swore to uphold. Any expectation that the chief executive of the administration will be asking his immediate (appointed, by him) subordinate (the Secretary of Transportation) to instruct HIS subordinate (Huerta, the director of the FAA) to actually comply with the law, is laughable. The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

We just need another suit, along the same lines, requiring the administration's law breaking at the agency level in the FAA to be discussed in the bright sunshine of court. Something you'd think that the "most transparent administration in history" would applaud, right? Yeah.

Personal opinion on this.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47437893)

Seems like the FAA should have no jurisdiction on commercial or private use of drones being flown at heights that do not impact normal aviation and when flown exclusively over private property.

If I want to fly a drone at low altitude above my property, then why shouldn't I be able to do so? If I want to give permission to a realtor to fly their drone over my property and to use photography (of just my property) to sell my property...then why not?

The issues come in when you tresspass (already a crime) or you take photography of other people's property (not really a crime if done from your property afaik) or your talking about public safety because your flying your drone at 5000 ft or something (not being an aviation expert, I have no idea how high the lowest air traffic lanes are).

Re:Personal opinion on this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438039)

Controlled airspace goes down to ground level in an inverted cone shape at controlled airports, that is quite wide. This is to allow IFR traffic to take off and land at controlled airports and never leave controlled airspace. So you can't fly 10 feet next to a large airport without breaking the law, but you can fly 10,000 feet in remote areas without telling them anything and be legal. It can get a bit complicated when learning to fly in the midst of 3 international airports while taking off from an uncontrolled one. I usually flew without touching controlled airspace, but had to keep track of my position when I got near them.

Just trying to give you some information for your viewpoints.

Re:Personal opinion on this.... (1)

aviators99 (895782) | about 4 months ago | (#47438197)

Controlled airspace goes down to ground level in an inverted cone shape at controlled airports, that is quite wide. This is to allow IFR traffic to take off and land at controlled airports and never leave controlled airspace. So you can't fly 10 feet next to a large airport without breaking the law, but you can fly 10,000 feet in remote areas without telling them anything and be legal. It can get a bit complicated when learning to fly in the midst of 3 international airports while taking off from an uncontrolled one. I usually flew without touching controlled airspace, but had to keep track of my position when I got near them.

Just trying to give you some information for your viewpoints.

I think you're confusing "positive controlled airspace" with "controlled airspace", but you are otherwise correct.

But I do wonder about the true "uncontrolled" airspace and how the FAA's rule-making may or may not apply. This is different from what you describe. I believe you are regularly flying in "controlled airspace", in which you usually don't have to deal with controllers Uncontrolled airspace is rare in areas where manned aircraft fly, but is probably more prevalent where drones fly.

"Safe" (2)

Shoten (260439) | about 4 months ago | (#47437921)

It seems to me that "Safe" requires "Consistent." Otherwise, it's just "theoretically safe," not actually safe. And having just been through a house-buying process, I gotta tell you...I wouldn't entrust all the realtors with the safety of airspace. Especially since they seem to have no real guidance given to them on what "safe" commercial use of a drone actually entails.

Enough with "drones." R/C planes and copters. (1)

glrotate (300695) | about 4 months ago | (#47437947)

I agree with the FAA. Given the current state of cheap R/C copters with zip-tied Herocams, I don't think the operators should be given carte blanche to do as they please. The FAA needs to start rule-making process that involves all interested parties. But, until such rules are promulgated, I think prohibiting commercial operation is a sensible temporary position. Congress has the ultimate power here, but generally, the less they're involved - the better.

Renax (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#47438089)

Renax is OK then - they use hot air baloons

Can someone explain how... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47438217)

The FEDERAL Aviation Authority has any Constitutional basis for telling people they can't fly a drone around a house that doesn't cross state lines?

Re:Can someone explain how... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 4 months ago | (#47438239)

Because the FAA, by federal statute (passed by congress, which is made up of representatives of all of the states), is granted that regulatory authority. There is legal precedence for their authority over everything that flies in the air, right down to an inch above the ground. Which doesn't mean that their position on this stuff isn't incredibly absurd. But it's their turf.

Re:Can someone explain how... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438259)

Yep, anything that leaves the ground under its own power, including harnessing environmental power, falls under FAA jurisdiction.

Technically, if you jump in a class Bravo airspace in the portion that extends to the ground, you have broken federal law by not getting clearance.

So... kite photography then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438227)

Or is that against the "rules" too?

Or is it the case of any airborne activity needs specific sanction from FAA if its for commercial purposes?

Airspace (1)

Anothermouse Cowered (717265) | about 4 months ago | (#47438271)

I am a Private Pilot with both fixed wing and rotorcraft ratings. Please ask your realtor to explain Class G and Class E airspace and what activities are permitted in them by a Private Pilot versus a Commercial Pilot and you will quickly discover why they ought not to be flying anything in the airspace that I fly in.

I took my own drone footage (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#47438277)

When I sold my last house, I gave the Realtor footage I had taken using my R/C aircraft for fun.

Instead of griping on /., tell the FAA (1)

Lothsahn (221388) | about 4 months ago | (#47438279)

The FAA is about to outlaw flying within 5 miles of an airport (up from 3 miles) and above 400ft, and all commercial uses.

Tell them what you think...

http://www.regulations.gov/#!d... [regulations.gov]

You have until 7/25...

Other countries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47438285)

Is this a world wide standard behavior for whatever equivalent agencies we have around the world?

Which Laws To Break (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 4 months ago | (#47438401)

I have a friend that immigrated from Europe. He wanted to start a business and realized that businesses do not comply with numerous laws so he actually asked the clerks in the court house which laws it was customary to ignore. They replied that they could not tell him which laws he could break and that he had to figure that out for himself. People will use drones with or without the blessing of governmental agencies. Even police departments might be seen as commercial in nature as much of what they do involves taking in money for the city or county more than public safety or crime prevention.

Define "safe commercial use of drones" (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 4 months ago | (#47438427)

...This is a troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA's rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones....

I thinking this is a good development in the safe commercial use of drones.

How do you know that all those real estate agents are using the drones safely? That's the problem the FAA is trying to address, the safety of all those things flying in the air. What if a real estate agent's drone crashes into a neighbor's house and hurts someone? How do you know that the real estate agent really knows how to fly one of the drones, or whether that agent recently saw one being used on youtube and thinks that he/she knows all there is to know about flying a drone?

For now, I am pleased that the FAA is slowing down the commercial use of the drones. When you're up in the air, you have the distinct possibility of affecting more than just yourself...

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