Can I legally use a drone for inspections?

Do you have to be licensed with the FAA to use a drone for home inspections? I’ve read/heard that as long as you don’t sell or publish the pictures or videos that you don’t have to be licensed.

You are in Arizona This might help .

** Drone Regulation Enforcement will get tougher**

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – The U.S. government now patrols nearlyhalf the Mexican border by drones alone in a largely unheralded shift tocontrol desolate stretches where there are no agents, camera towers, groundsensors or fences, and it plans to expand the strategy to the Canadian border.
It represents a significant departure from a decades-oldapproach that emphasizes boots on the ground and fences. Since 2000, the numberof Border Patrol agents on the 1,954-mile border more than doubled to surpass18,000 and fencing multiplied nine times to 700 miles.


Under the new approach, Predator Bs sweep remote mountains,canyons and rivers with a high-resolution video camera and return within threedays for another video in the same spot, two officials with direct knowledge ofthe effort said on condition of anonymity because details have not been madepublic.
The two videos are then overlaid for analysts who usesophisticated software to identify tiny changes – perhaps the tracks of afarmer or cows, perhaps those of immigrants who entered the country illegallyor a drug-laden Hummer, they said.
About 92 per cent of drone missions have shown no change interrain, but the others raised enough questions to dispatch agents to determineif someone got away, sometimes by helicopter because the area is so remote. Theagents look for any sign of human activity – footprints, broken twigs, trash.
About 4 per cent of missions have been false alarms, liketracks of livestock or farmers, and about 2 per cent are inconclusive. Theremaining 2 per cent offer evidence of illegal crossings from Mexico, whichtypically results in ground sensors being planted for closer monitoring.
The government has operated about 10,000 drone flights underthe strategy, known internally as “change detection,” since it began in March2013. The flights currently cover about 900 miles, much of it in Texas, and areexpected to expand to the Canadian border by the end of 2015.
The purpose is to assign agents where illegal activity ishighest, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection,the Border Patrol’s parent agency, which operates nine unmanned aircraft acrossthe country.
“You have finite resources,” he said in an interview. “Ifyou can look at some very rugged terrain (and) you can see there’s not traffic,whether it’s tire tracks or clothing being abandoned or anything else, you wantto deploy your resources to where you have a greater risk, a greater threat.”
If the video shows the terrain unchanged, Border PatrolChief Michael Fisher calls it “proving the negative” – showing there isn’tanything illegal happening there and therefore no need for agents and fences.
The strategy was launched without fanfare and expanded at atime when President Barack Obama prepares to issue an executive order by theend of this year to reduce deportations and enhance border security.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who chairs the HouseHomeland Security Committee, applauded the approach while saying thatsurveillance gaps still remain. “We can no longer focus only on static defencessuch as fences and fixed (camera) towers,” he said.
Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who co-authoredlegislation last year to add 20,000 Border Patrol agents and 350 miles offencing to the southwest border, said, “If there are better ways of ensuringthe border is secure, I am certainly open to considering those options.”
Border missions fly out of Sierra Vista, home of the U.S.Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, or Corpus Christi, Texas. Theypatrol at altitudes between 19,000 at 28,000 feet and between 25 and 60 milesof the border.
The first step is for Border Patrol sector chiefs toidentify areas that are least likely to attract smugglers, typically far fromtowns and roads. Analysts scour the drone videos at operations centres in GrandForks, North Dakota; Riverside, California; and Sierra Vista. After an initialsurvey, the drones return within a week for another sweep.
Privacy advocates have raised concerns about drones sinceCustoms and Border Protection introduced them in 2006, saying there ispotential to monitor innocent people under no suspicion. Lothar Eckardt, theagency’s executive director of national air security operations, saidlaw-abiding people shouldn’t worry and that cameras are unable to capturedetails like license plate numbers and faces on the ground.
Eckardt looked on one September morning as a drone taxieddown a runway in Sierra Vista, lifted off with a muffled buzz, and disappearedover a rocky mountain range into a blue Arizona sky. About a dozen computerscreens line the wall of their trailer, showing the weather, maps and real-timeimages of the ground below.
Eckardt said there is “no silver bullet” to border securitybut that using drones in highly remote areas is part of the overall effort. Ifthere’s nothing there, he said, “Let’s not waste the manpower here. Let’s focusour efforts someplace else, where they’re needed.”

Spagat reported from San Diego.
© 2014 The Canadian Press
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If you are going to use for commercial purposes yes. If recreational No. Many inspectors are including it for free in their inspections (supposedly). That being said, I would not want to be the guy that gets reported because the noise ticked off a neighbor or the husband looked out a window and saw your drone up when his wife was in the shower. The test from what I have heard is pretty easy.

You were misinformed. If you use a drone on a paid inspection, then you are using it in a commercial operation. The FAA made it easier to comply with the Chapter 107 remote pilot certificate. It’s not that bad.

Brad, Do you have a link to more information or the test?


Click here.

Get your FAA Chapter 107 license. It’s easy and required.

I heard from a helicopter pilot that new rules will not allow any drones within 5 miles of any airport, 200 feet max altitude, stay within site of the operator, have to give permission/48 hours notice of any home within one forth of a mile of the home that you use a drone, 48 hours notice to any local airport tower, and a bunch of other rules if you do it for a fee paid or inclusive of any inspection/listing pictures/video. These rules/changes will be ongoing. Nick may need to set up a separate drone section to inform us.

It’s not nearly that restrictive, but there are rules. Study guides and the full Chapter 107 is all over the internet.

The most restrictive rule is the limits of flying if within 5 miles of an airport. I can see that working in areas which are extremely rural but for most decent size cities it would be a massive burden. Arranging flight time with every airport and heliport (in my area that would include at least one hospital), would be a huge administrative burden. I would love to hear from inspectors using drones in urban areas how they worked this into their daily routine.

Mike Here you go this is for registration!

Here is the main FAA site

I currently have access to some good affordable Drone coverage for Liability and the drone itself.

I’m working to have a this available online for the first of the year that will allow simple start to finish with payment online as well.

Call me with any questions

Eugene, You would be correct in that right now it seams impossible to us a drone based on theses limitations. With a Hospital that’s takes helicopter here in down town Syracuse and our major airport just 5 miles north of the city it rules out the use for almost 10 square miles!!

IMO because I have been seeing the rules and regulations changing it seams weekly, I think we will continue to see regulations evolve and make it easier for home inspectors, photographers, real-estate people even insurance claims adjusters etc. be more favorable. I think the trend will be the height that they are flown will create the distance requirement from the airport.

A home inspector shouldn’t be flying I would say no more that 100’ high to view a roof so with that said they should be under any commercial flight height requirements??

I’ve been a pilot for very many years.
Do I still have to get the 107 license?

If you are current (flight review within the last two years), you only have to apply for the cert. I’m a pilot too, but it’s cheaper for me to just take the test.

Roy I believe you will find your answer in here!


Thanks for the additional insight. At this point, I will wait and hope they will make these rules slightly more workable. Heck if they put a limit of 40ft from the ground that would work for just about every single family home I have inspected.

I would love to have a good excuse to buy a drone, but for now, the 32ft pole will have to do.

The airport / heliport rule… 5 miles?

Am I misunderstanding something?? that would mean it’s really difficult to fly in almost any place that has a hospital/large building with heliports. I’m thinking places that would be OK without advance permission in such are the minority. Many if not most areas in SoCal have someplace with airport/heliport etc within a 5 mile radius.

That doesn’t seem quite right…

You can fly the drone in Class G airspace without permission. It’s uncontrolled airspace. Most small airports without towers are Class G. This is all in the study material.

Tim, to see how much that 5 mile rule would affect you, download the FAA app “B4UFly”, it is a terrible app and very unstable but I was able to use it enough to realize how limiting the 5 mile rule would be for the areas I do inspections.