Aerial Drone Footage
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Rules and Restrictions
The FAA has published rules online at faa.gov/uas, but they can be summed up with these simple ideas. Fly responsibly, during daylight hours, and with a line of sight to the drone. Avoid densely populated areas, airports and restricted airspace, and all of NYC and Manhattan. Certainly flying over the White House is also prohibited. The pilot should have the proper FAA certification, a drone registered with the FAA, and have liability insurance in place to cover damage caused in the event of a crash.
The great majority of the drone video jobs a production company would do here in Cleveland involve shooting over businesses like car dealers or manufacturing facilities. There is also a high demand for getting aerial video of commercial and residential real estate for real estate agents. These are typically low risk situations as the work happens on private property with permission of everyone involved and these areas are usually not in restricted airspace. If a client asks a video production company to fly the drone indoors the risk to others who are in that building is slightly higher, as flying a drone in a space such as a factory or a convention center requires far more skill than flying a drone outdoors.
Common sense comes in to play, but so does the technical limitations of the drone and the limitations of the pilot or operator. The drone may loose contact with the operator and controller if it flys more than a mile away. Most drones are limited by their firmware or design to reach maximum flying altitude at 400 feet or less. Many manufacturers pre-program their drones to be unable to fly over airports or other FAA controlled or restricted airspace. Certainly a request to fly over an NFL game or NASCAR race would have to be declined, unless the client or pilot had the proper FAA permission and waiver. The geography and terrain of Cleveland could make it difficult to maintain a line of sight with the drone so the proper planning and launch site location selection become critical for a safe flight.
Just like any photo or video assignment do whatever you can to avoid jail and/or the ER. If it just seems to risky or there is any concern of damage to property or chance of bodily injury, find another way to get the shot.