Did you know that you need to be certified in order to fly a drone (UAS)? “You need a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate” (faa.gov). A direct quotation from the FAA, and that is only scratching the surface of what is required of a drone operator. You must be at least 16 years old and pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center, or if you have a part 61 pilot certificate you must have completed a flight review in the last two years and then take a small UAS training course provided by FAA. The tests are full of various rules and regulations that an operator needs to have memorized, you can read more about those here. But if you don’t feel like going through the whole process of becoming certified so you can take videos and photos with a drone, hiring someone who is already certified is the best viable option.
Drones have spiked in popularity, especially in the fields of filmmaking and photography. Currently, it seems normal for many high-quality videos to have beautiful sweeping shots of vast landscapes from a tall point of view. The standard for modern video production has changed. Many marketing companies have noticed that and are trying to keep up, but it takes some application. Not everyone who owns a drone is certified. So be careful when hiring someone who does not have a certificate, because there are consequences.
There are plenty of companies, like Definition Films, who do adhere to the specific regulations laid out by the FAA, and are therefore allowed to legally fly. So for the next video you need made, make sure to ask your video production company about drones and certificates. It could make the difference between clearance to fly the UAS in airspace near an airport and the project running smoothly or arriving on location and the uncertified operator’s drone not being cleared to take off. Uncertified operators cannot obtain clearance from airports to fly in regulated airspace near an airport. Their drones will simply blink red and display a message stating “no-fly-zone”. Whereas a certified FAA part 107 certificate holder is able to request clearance in advance from the airspace control tower. Upon clearance, which can take anywhere from hours to multiple days with the potential for denial, the UAS operator will be able to fly within that regulated airspace.
Before your next video project that may require drone operations, do your research on production companies that you may be interested in utilizing, and make sure they hold an FAA part 107 certificate and have the necessary staff available to complete the mission safely.