Thursday, January 14, 2016

Drones and home inspections

Chances are, you've heard about the latest FAA regulations around drones.  I know I've received several calls asking if I use a drone for my home inspections.  The short answer is, no, because it's illegal.  In order to use a drone for commercial purposes, you have to have permission from the FAA (an FAA333 exemption), which few people actually do.

There are many home inspectors out there trying to skirt the rules, by saying they are using the drone for hobby purposes, and just using the home inspection as an opportunity to "play around" with their drone.  So, my first question to you is: if they are willing to ignore the regulations on drones, what else are they doing that isn't quite legal or ethical?

The final nail in the drone coffin was the extension of the Washington, DC drone no-fly zone.  It's now 30 Nautical Miles from Reagan National Airport (34.52 Statute (normal) miles).  Additionally, there are 5 Nautical Mile zones around all the other airports around.  Basically, a good portion of Central Maryland and Northern Virginia is a no-fly zone.  For a visual of the no-fly zones, go here.

So, if you talk to an inspector and they offer a drone inspection, ask if they have the FAA333 exemption.  If they don't, or if they are offering to do the inspection in the no-fly zone, where else are they going to bend the rules?  In the meantime, give us a call.  I'm not afraid to climb a ladder to inspect your roof.

Update:  The FAA has finally made it possible to get certification to use drones for commercial work without being a pilot.  So now that it's legal, I might have to look into getting a drone and the certifications.  In the meantime, I'll still be climbing those roofs!

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