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New Drone Regulation in USA – What Changes?

December 17th, 2015 Jump to Comment Section 22
New Drone Regulation in USA - What Changes?

drone-regulations-inspire-1b

This is a guest post by Thomas Foster who runs the website bestquadwithcamera.com – NL

Recently the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration in USA) has announced that all drones and quadcopters which weigh more than 0.55 pounds (250grams) must be registered. The registration can be done on internet through a web form. This move was expected. They were trying to enforce drone registration and education for years. The reason for that is that there are a lot safety and privacy concerns from the FAA.

Safety concerns

There are more safety concerns. One is that drone airspace would interfere with the airspace of other aircrafts. Because of that, the FAA declared that drones are forbidden in the area 5 miles around airports and national parks. Besides that they also excluded them from certain areas for which they considered that flying drones there can pose a threat to security. All zones where you can or cannot fly are marked here. Furthermore, you are forbidden to fly a drone above the height of 400 feet and without the sight of operator. Other safety concerns are that you can attach literally everything on the drone. People were attaching guns and flamethrowers there. With registration it is easier to recognize the infringements.

noflyzonesUSA

Privacy concerns

Privacy concerns go mainly to smaller lawsuits of people who found themselves on internet and who did not like being recorded by drones. There are also some commercial videos which had been shooting at restricted territory. And finally, some newspapers use drones that make photos and videos of celebrities.

All those concerns led to the change of rules.

Penalties

Everybody who owns a drone which has more than 0.55 pounds must register it. That means that even if you have owned a drone for a long time, you must still register it. The penalties can go up to $27,500 in civil fines and up to $250,000 and three years in prison for criminal penalties. Although those penalties are harsh, FAA said that it is trying to avoid punishing and just trying to make people register the drones.

Filming – what can you do?

At the moment, aerial filming and usage of drones and quadcopters with camera are both completely legal. All you need to do is to have your drone registered. Drones with camera in general weigh more than 0.55 pounds. The things that you need to take into account are fairly standard;

  • No flying above 400 feet
  • Fly away from pedestrians and from the people that might feel irritated by your drone
  • Keep the aircraft in sight
  • Do not fly on restricted zones
  • Stay clear in the air and do not interfere with another aircraft’s operations
  • Make sure you fly safely

In case you want to use your videos or pictures commercially, you need to get a permit from the owners of the property for usage. If you do not use it commercially, you can share it (via youtube and other platforms for example) freely. This is currently allowed, but the drone legislation is changing, so it might not always stay like that. So for that, it is best to keep yourself updated with the news.

Other countries around the world

The important question that arises is, how is with other countries in the world? As USA is enforcing new rules, this will eventually become a new guideline for most law enforcers around the world. Some countries already have their own legislation which is different from the one in USA. It is best to check their own legislation when you plan to make a shooting in the country of your choosing. Below I will briefly describe the legislation of some of the countries.

European Union

European_Union_flagEuropean Union made some attempts to make a common legislation among all of its members. Unfortunately it did not work out (yet). So therefore every country has different legislation. It is best to research legislation for specific country. Below, the United Kingdom, Germany and France are described.

United Kingdom

United_Kingdom

The regulations in UK are the following (it holds for all aircrafts with weight below 100 kg).:

  • You must not endanger anyone while flying.
  • Keep the aircraft in sight – you can only fly on the distance less than 500 meters from your piloting place.
  • Smaller aircrafts used for surveillance purposes are subject to tighter restrictions to the above rule – they must fly closer. Also you need permission for them.
  • If you do aerial work and getting paid for it, you need the permission of CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
  • You have a responsibility to conduct the flight safely.
  • You may not fly closer than 50 meters near vehicles, boats, buildings that are not your property unless you have the permission of the owner.
  • You are not allowed to fly over large groups of people.

GermanyGermany

If your drone weigh does not exceed 5 kilograms and you do not use it for commercial purposes, you do not need to register it. In other case you have to register it. You also need to follow those rules:

  • Maximum altitude above ground is 100m
  • Operation is forbidden in crowd, misfortune locations, disaster areas and some other locations. This also applies for the flying above industrial plants, factories, and military installations.
  • Within built-up areas (cities), the competent regulatory authorities / police departments must be informed in advance.
  • Within protected areas the local regulations must be observed.

franceFrance

You need to register a drone there. Furthermore,

  • Flight must not exceeding the height of 150 meters high.
  • It is forbidden to fly over people or animals
  • You must not fly 50 meters or closer to the roads
  • It is forbidden to fly in restricted areas (near airports, etc.)
  • It is forbidden to fly at night
  • It is forbidden to fly in places where you pose danger to others.
  • You need a permission of the property owner if you will make a commercial video on someone else’s property

Australia

Australia

The regulations in Australia are the following (it holds for all aircrafts with weight below 20 kg).:

  • You must not endanger anyone while flying.
  • You are not allowed to fly above 400 feet (120 meters).
  • You are not allowed to fly closer than 10 meters from another person.
  • You are not allowed to fly over large groups of people
  • You are not allowed to fly in bad weather or at night.
  • There are restricted areas – similar as in USA.
  • You may not fly closer than 30m near vehicles, boats, buildings that are not your property unless you have the permission of the owner.
  • You have a responsibility to conduct the flight safely.

As you can see in most countries the rules are quite similar. There is also a gray area in many countries with filming property from distance. Also make sure that if you post something to internet and someone asks you to remove it, you should do it. Your chances of winning such battles on court are not clear. So it is better to be careful.

 

Tips for safe and law-friendly shooting

Shooting a video or photographs with a drone is still a great thing to get good and artistic videos and photos. The new drone legislation does not really change that. A good guide was already written about that here. But in order to also abide the laws in any country, it is highly recommended to use the common sense when filming different things. Do not film things where people might feel irritated. Also it is good to check the latest changes in rules. That is because the industry is growing rapidly and rules are changing fast because of that. That industry is getting regulated very fast. However that does not mean that aerial filming will lose popularity. Many video makers and photographers are now using it and it is also becoming increasingly popular in cinematography as well. This might actually be the future of filming.

 

This was a guest post by Thomas Foster who runs the website bestquadwithcamera.com. — NL

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