FAA Progressing Towards Integrating Drones Into US Airspace But Public Is Protesting

February 18th, 2013

The topic of operation of UASs (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) more commonly referred to as drones is really heating up. This last week there were articles in every publication from New York Times, to National Geographic Magazine and every other publication on the planet weighing in on use of drones! All this exposure and controversy is not helping the resolution of commercial UAS rules.

The good news is that the FAA is making progressing towards coming up with rules and regulations regarding UAS use. This article recently released by the FAA summarizes the progress, from the point of view of the FAA. The FAA is working on coming up with 6 cities in the US to test the operation and use of Drones.

The bad news for real estate photographers and others that want to put drones to practical commercial use is that the hype, fear and paranoia concerning drone use by law enforcement is drowning out everything else in the public discourse on this subject. As described in the New York Times article, use of drones by law enforcement in Seattle, Tallahassee, Charlottesville, Alameda County, Arizona, Montana and Idaho have been curtailed in various ways by the raucous opposition from the anti-drone lobby. One example is that last week Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn responded to public protests to law enforcement drones by banning their use by Seattle police and sending back Seattle Police drones to the manufacturer.

For real estate photographers just wanting to get this resolved so they can get on with using these awesome little devices to get great elevated video and stills all this public controversy about drone use is not good news. Public protest is going to complicate and restrict the use of commercial drones!

Update 2/18: Todays New York Times has a very timely Op-Ed piece by Drew Christie, who is an animator, filmmaker and illustrator living in Seattle. One of the funniest parts of the piece is illustration/video satire Drew made. The comments on the op-ed illustrate the diversity of opinion on this subject!

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9 Responses to “FAA Progressing Towards Integrating Drones Into US Airspace But Public Is Protesting”

  • You can follow Joe McNally’s ongoing BTS/breakdown of his Nat Geo story, here:

  • Funny, remote controlled aircraft for hobby enthusiasts have been around a long time. It would appear that only Osama can bring them down in the presence of a totally ignorant public. That said, if and when an opportunity comes along to over come this ignorance, it is up to those of us that want to use them for real estate to do so with great caution, or we will never see the release of these awsome little devices.

  • The public doesn’t fear real estate photography helicopters or even commercial business using remote controlled aircraft. The public fears “drones.” It’s ridiculous semantics, yes. But if you don’t separate that word from the mundane uses of these vehicles, they will ALL be viewed (and feared) as military controlled (and by that meaning weaponized) platforms, drones. And most media outlets(FoxNews) LOVE public fear mongering. I would never have guessed a year ago that today I would think the FAA would be the one that seems to have a clear understanding of the situation.

  • Is commercial use of drones any less a violation of my constitutional rights then government use? It is worse, they have no obligation to make public the information they gather, they will make “proprietary” claims. Where will this technology be in 10 years? They can already listen in on conversations, and fire rubber bullets. Suppose you were a farmer that wanted to grow your own seeds, instead of using Monsanto’s GMO’s, and they were listening into your conversations with other like minded farmers. You can bet the Monsanto seed police will be knocking on your door and taking you to court. Suppose you were an Occupy Wall Street person with friends that believe the 1% should be held accountable for their actions, would the private security firms of the elite like to know who you are meeting with, and what you are talking about? If you believe multinational corporations are going to respect your rights, you have been severely mislead and are sadly mistaken. It is happening now. Both the government and private interests should be restricted in the use of drones. Like the senator from Montana said, “If you see one over your property, shoot it down.”

  • @Rohnn- In 1986 the supreme court ruled that “warrantless aerial surveillance” does NOT violate the 4th amendment. It follows that drone use is not a violation of your constitutional rights.

  • I cant tell you how confortable that makes me feel. (Please provide the citation). Warrantless targetted assassinations, warrantless wire tapping, warrantless renditions, warrantless web access to my email, online activity and etc. Where is it going to end? I am a Vietnam veteran, opposed to and eventually ended the war. Where are the people that care about freedom today? What happened to this country?

  • @Rohnn- I first heard of the decision in the video I site in todays op-ed in the New York Times ( by Drew Christie. The supreme court case Drew refers to is 476 US 207 (1986) California v.Ciraolo. For more details see:

  • Thanks for the info.
    I think the costs vs benefits evaluation should put an end to the discussions. In my market 10% or less of listings are marketed with “professional” images. When I checked all the listings over $1 million, only 1 listing used real video and there was no footage from an UAV. Therefore there would be no effect on photographers and/or agents. In my opinion, the costs of not restricting drone use far outweigh any benefit of their use.

  • What’s it take to become a sublime expounder of prose like yourself?

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