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Real Estate Videography With A Quadcopter In Vancover BC

Published: 13/01/2014
By: larry

MacnabsSpecial agents Jordan and Russ Macnam of Vancouver, BC are creating a buzz in the Vancouver, BC real estate market with their new DJI Phantom Quadcopter drone and a GoPro 3 Black edition. Here is a Vancouver news story about their new real estate marketing tool.

In Canada they actually have rules and procedures setup to regulate commercial use of UAVs. What a concept! Here is Russ's description of the process in Canada:

Anyone in Canada can buy a UAV without certification or anything but as soon as you considered using it for commercial purposes that’s when Transport Canada get’s involved...

Right now each time I fly I have to submit an SFOC application (special flight operations certificate) a flight plan with pictures of where I will be flying and my planned shots, it’s basically a 3 page essay on what I have and what safety procedures I will have in place and of course I also have to have liability insurance They want it very detailed, and there are definitely limitations on where and when I can fly. I’m not allowed within 30 m of anyone or anything that might have a person in it. If I want to fly close to other houses then I need to warn the home owners first. Once I submit my SFOC application then it can take up to 20 days to get approval and then I’m good to go!

It can take a bit to get going but now I have everything in order, and it’s not so bad.

Doesn't sound too ominous.  Maybe the US FAA will catch up to Transport Canada within a couple of years.


13 comments on “Real Estate Videography With A Quadcopter In Vancover BC”

  1. I think this is why it needs licensing so you don't need up to 20 days to get approval. If there were licenses involved you would prove yourself capable of performing a safe flight. The aircraft would have certification requirements that you would have to follow. Licensing is a good thing for a safe industry and it also makes it easier to operate a business. Basic knowledge of air regulations is all that should be required and a test of your proficiency in flying the drone. This way in Canada you should just have to file a flight plan with flight services and then fly within the restrictions and I am sure it could be the same in the US. The biggest hurdle will be getting the law makers to do it.

  2. As the public sees these as toys for the most part, I see a lot of resistance to licensing here in the US. IMO the insurance requirements will be the biggest obstacle for commercial use.
    Liability has been almost entirely ignored up to now yet it will be a big factor once one high profile incident goes viral. Regulation may stall for a time but the insurance industry moves very quickly when they see big exposure.

  3. 20 days! Realtors have a hard time waiting 24 hours. With many cases, the property has sold within 20 days.

    Really need to look at something more efficient. But let me guess - there is an application fee (tax) with each application so it is more lucrative to the State/ Province than a single universal license.

  4. I love it and am ready to do this for my clients. I've been lusting after the DJ1 Vision for awhile. Almost ordered it on B&H last week. I wonder if I'm a hobbyist video/photographer, yet shoot my own video and images of my own listings, is that still an issue. I would like to rationalize my way into providing better services for my clients.

  5. Licensing the user is probably the right move if the Government must be involved at all. Which I resist. Because I prefer personal responsibility over regulations, I see licensing as the least of the freedom restrictors. Like the way Realtors must be licensed, it should be a state issue with a 2 tier method: (1) codes and rules of ethical behavior created by the enthusiasts themselves, enforceable through an elected committee of piers... (2) and a simple state law to be enforced reasonably with the intent of protecting the public from harm and intrusion. Another option would be to license the pilot upon purchasing the flying unit similarly as when buying a firearm. Register the machine to the owner and if complaints of use are made, the machine owner can present a license of proof to use it, or the "victim" can submit a formal complaint. Or better, yet. Let current laws apply, categorize small flight units in levels of capacity somewhere between loose party balloons and killer robot drones, separate them as less intrusive than hot air balloons, restrict the altitude maximum and proximity to current private and commercial flight paths in order to ease FAA concerns, then leave us alone. Quit inventing ways of turning us into criminals.

  6. @Terry ... I thought the same thing and almost ordered from B&H but held off as had other priorities. I figured, even if remain a "hobbyist" would gain the skillset so ready to go when became legit. In the meantime, having fun.

  7. And so while you claim to follow the rules you show video where you are obviously closer than "30m to anyone or anything that might have a person in it..." You showed flights over the city and apartment buildings that contain people. I'm sure you did not warn all of them. You took off closer to 30m from a road. Roads always "may contain people." Need I go on?

    These Canadian rules would be very limiting. I suspect there have been no complaints against you yet but when anyone sees a problem in you videos (like a competitor viewing it) they can raise an issue and you are sunk.

    Show me a video where you stayed at all times at lest 30m away.

  8. The issue is not whether you collected money for the AP, its illegal if you do it commercially which means even if you do this as a hobby for yourself but the footage shows up in a video of a property that's for sale then its considered commercial.

    The rules are a joke, but at least they have some, the rules in the US will probably be far more restrictive. Since the rules for commercial AP don't effect the hobbyist, and commercial AP will be such an insignificant percentage of people flying RC/AP there really isn't a need to regulate this. Just require insurance and let the adults get on with their business.

    If you want to see the effects of FAA regulation you don't need to look any further than General Aviation, its sad that when there's so much more technology available today that could make GA safer, affordable and accessible it is being regulated out of existence.

  9. I agree that a 20 day waiting time is too much. I know that RE agents book at the last minute, but there is no physical law that prevents them from being more organized and planning 2 or 3 days ahead. The description in the article sounds like the authorities have gone overboard with requirements to cover even the most far out scenario that a 3 martini lunch can bring on. Or would that be Scotch?

    If the FAA can work a bit harder and come up with the regulations and a test, commercial operators can get licensed. Insurance underwriters would then have more confidence that the insured has met a certain level of competence which should ease rates. Cities could then require a business to show that their pilot is licensed and insured to receive a permit to fly in that city. Permits could be an addon to a business license with a nominal fee.. say, $20/year or $5/day for an operator servicing another town. Unfortunately, most cities require a business license for contractors doing work in their town regardless of whether they have a license in the city where their business is based. I will predict that if their is no regulatory system in place, as some advocate, the use of UAV's will be banned by cities upon the first accident, complaint or injury. The regulations will also help professional providers with some barriers to entering market place. How many of us would find having to compete with teenagers living at home, with no insurance and no overhead a good experience?

    It's not just RE agents chomping for AP, there are all sorts of applications in land use planning and agriculture that would like to make use of UAV's. It will come.

  10. What makes you think that cities have the right to ban MR's, accident or no accident? They can't ban cars. Do you think that when there's an accident involving a MR doing AP that the outcome of any enforcement will differentiate between hobbyist or "professional?"

    "The regulations will also help professional providers with some barriers to entering market place." This is what started this mess in the first place, LA Film sending a joint letter with the LA Sheriff's department to the Ca Association of Realtors stating how AP from RC's was against the law. What business is it of LA Films, a trade organization and since when did local municipalities have the authority to enforce federal laws? Who's interests were served with that letter? If realtors are stupid enough to hire " How many of us would find having to compete with teenagers living at home, with no insurance and no overhead a good experience?" then let those realtors be liable for those teenagers actions.

    Will there be incompetent people doing AP? Sure like every other profession. Will there be accidents? Most certainly but these are not good enough reasons to take away my civil liberties. No one has made a compelling argument for the need to regulate commercial AP, which is why it isn't against the law.

    I have a plane at the local airport and it costs me almost $1600 a year in taxes and fees for my hanger and plane, that doesn't include the lease for the land or the insurance, if you want to include that its considerably more. We can debate how or why this came to be but I find the idea that if the FAA regulates this that it will protect your interests for $20/year kind of funny.

    I don't need the Government to protect me from competition, I just need them to get the #$^& out of the way and not add additional expense due to regulations.

    And as others pointed out it doesn't appear that regulating AP in Canada is working that well.

  11. @Chuck - Cities can and do limit or ban certain activities within city limits that are in addition to state and federal laws. The regulations are called "Codes", but can carry fines and jail time. City police officers are charged with enforcing ALL laws including Federal.

    Real estate agents can't be liable for the actions of businesses they contract with unless it can be shown that the agent materially contributed to the accident/infringement. If there are no professional standards, anybody could declare themselves in business and provide AP services. While this may appeal to YOU, serious business people and insurance companies will not be very happy. Banks will be hesitant to loan money to AP businesses and just one maverick could destroy the practice in an area. If you have never worked in finance before, you should know that banks will almost never lend money to a business with a low barrier to entry unless the loan is fully secured with real property.

    I don't think that you got the intention of the $20/year fee which I proposed as a CITY PERMIT fee. The FAA will determine charges for certification and yearly licensing fees. The city(ies) where the AP business operates would maintain a record of licensed pilots and insurance details and that entails some clerical time which will need some compensation. State DMV's already do this for cars. Do you suggest that we discontinue driver's licenses and auto insurance? You're a pilot, should pilots only have to be licensed for larger aircraft? Should we do away with annual certifications? Should anybody with a set of wrenches be allowed to service aircraft? Since, I assume, that you fly for your own enjoyment and not commercially, should you then not have to carry liability insurance? I am more confident in pilots that have strapped themselves into their machines and are risking their lives. They are much more likely to be cautious about preserving it. I am not saying that every pilot is safe and sane. I know a few that should have their licenses revoked. UAV pilots may take more chances than is prudent. Over the last year, at least one has killed himself and another injured the member(s) of a wedding party. Those are the two that I can remember off the top of my head since they attracted much attention.

    Nobody is taking away YOUR civil liberties (whatever that means) by requiring that you show basic competence and financial responsibility in an activity that has risks to people around you.

    I hold a pyrotechnic license from my state.
    I have a amateur radio license from the government.
    I have a commercial radio operators license.
    I have a broadcaster's license from the FCC.
    I have a pilot's license.
    I have a driver's license.
    I have a security clearance.
    I've had a commercial drivers license with a hazmat endorsement.
    I have a level 2 high power rocket certification.
    I hold several different insurance policies.

    Hasn't slowed me down one bit.

  12. @Ken, I know you've seen me post this quote before: "It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” It is not up to the user to prove that regulations are not required, its up to the government to prove that they are.

    Should someone with a set of wrenches be allowed to work on their own plane? Yes! Thousands of Experimental aircraft owners do work on their own aircraft and the homebuilt accident rate dropped by 30% in 2013 while the overall GA rate stayed about the same. The actual number of fatal amateur-built aircraft accidents, for example, is already below the yearly U.S. fatal incident total for those who are scuba diving and horseback riding. All you need for a Sport Pilot license, which falls into those statistics, is a drivers license and 20 hours of flight training.

    I'm not against "some" regulation but how can you regulate one class of user, commercial AP and not another, Hobbyist AP? What's the point? The Canadian regulations didn't prevent the two guys in the video on this thread from not only breaking most of the rules but recording it and including it as part their promotion. Having to pay more taxes and license fees won't prevent teenagers living at home, with no insurance and no overhead from competing with you. Only stupid people try to legislate stupidity.

    Does an industry or hobby where less than, I don't know, pick a number, but you could only recall one unfortunate death [which had nothing to do with AP or MR's] and an injured Bride/Groom need to be regulated? More people died or were injured last year from lightning strikes.

    This is a non issue. And I think you might really be surprised at the number of people who fly planes and drive cars without a license. I don't approve of that but it is certainly a growing trend.

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