Drones - Straighten Up And Fly Right (apologies to Nat King Cole).

I use a drone when I do home inspections because I can get a great view of the roof without harming it. Please see my blog post about how I inspect a roof.

These devices are highly mobile, offer an HD camera and are simply unbeatable when it comes to getting fantastic pictures of the overall property and a close up view of specific areas of the roof.

But, there are some things that a responsible and professional commercial drone operator must do. Legal things. Things that concern you as the person hiring the home inspector who uses a drone.

By the way, the FAA defines commercial use of a drone as flying the drone for money or in the course of your business. In other words, doing anything with your drone that is not for hobby or recreational purposes.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is very, very concerned about drones. I suppose that we’ve all seen reckless drone operations reported on the news where drones fly close to commercial airplanes. Because the FAA is really concerned, they’ve put certain rules and regulations in place to help ensure everyone’s safety.

First, the drone (the FAA calls them sUAS, or small unmanned aircraft systems – typical government, huh?) must be registered. This applies to all drones, not just those used for commercial uses. So, if you have a drone that you fly recreationally, the FAA says you gotta register it.

And, the registration number must be put somewhere on the drone. The FAA says “…you may use a permanent marker, label, or engraving, as long as the number remains affixed to the aircraft during routine handling and all operating conditions and is readily accessible and legible upon close visual inspection.” (https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs)

My drone is registered with the FAA and marked. Please feel free to ask to see it.

Next a commercial operator will need to get a drone pilot’s license. It’s called a Remote Pilot’s Certificate and it is an FAA license. The drone operator is required to have this license on him (or her) when he flies the drone. Getting the license involves taking (and paying $150 for) a test at an approved FAA testing center.

I have my license; Please feel free to ask to see it.

Logbook. The FAA recommends that commercial drone operators keep a logbook. It (the FAA, not the logbook) doesn’t specifically require it, but it does require ‘records’. I know, I know, that’s the government. Anyway, I keep a logbook. Please feel free to ask to see it.

Then there’s insurance. This isn’t required by the FAA, but it is required by common sense. And yes, I do have drone liability insurance. This means that my drone itself isn’t insured against damage to it, but any damage it may do to property or a person is covered.

OK, lastly, there are ALL KINDS of regulations about when and where drones can be flown. I’m not going to go into them here as it would probably bore you to tears, but let’s just say that if your home inspector (or roofer, or any other trade that may use a drone) has a drone and can’t tell you what the FAA’s rules are, well, that’s a problem. Can he produce a license on request? No? Umm, err, well, shucks.

So anyway, yeah, I know the rules, including airspace classifications, TFR’s, NOTAM’s, etc. (FAA lingo). And, I know when and where I can fly.

Let’s definitely use this wonderful technology and take advantage of the benefits it provides us, but let’s do it safely and within the rules, OK?


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