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Flying drones for commercial photography

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by bigpern23, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    The $3k to $5k is about what it costs to get a sport pilots license, the minimum level you must attain (you also must hold an FAA airman medical certificate, which I forgot to mention earlier). The registration fee for the drones themselves is nominal.

    It seems absurd to require a pilots license and force the drone operator to learn to fly an airplane. The FAA has said it's a safety issue, which doesn't make sense because a hobbyist can perform the same operations without a pilot's license. So there's no real roadblock to flying a drone for fun, but there are very large hurdles to flying them for commercial purposes, even though the safety issues are the same for both.
  2. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    What's the justification for inflicting that cost and burden on commercial drone users and not consumer drone users?
  3. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Businesses can afford to pay!

    It's not like businesses are people, or some silly thing like that. Besides, they'll just pass the added cost on to the consumer, so no harm done.
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    You think this is silly, check this out:

    Occupational licenses typically require individuals to receive approval from a government-chartered board before starting a particular job or business — a process that can be expensive, time-consuming, or both. Historically, licenses applied only to people in a limited number of professions, such as doctors, pilots and lawyers, yet the list of licensed industries has become more lengthy — and less defensible — in recent decades. Since the 1950s, the percentage of jobs licensed at the state level has quintupled, rising from 5 percent to at least 25 percent.

    When you add in local licensing requirements, well over a thousand professions are now affected, including hundreds in low- and middle-income categories.

    To understand just how out of control occupational licensing is, first consider the relatively reasonable example of emergency medical technicians. The Institute for Justice, a nonprofit public-interest law firm, estimated in 2012 that the average EMT license costs $85 and requires 33 days of education and training.

    Now compare that to other professions where the stakes aren’t so high — barbers, for instance. Alabama is the only state that doesn’t license them. On average, a would-be hair trimmer must spend more than a year in training and fork over $130. This may not seem like much, but it may be a serious barrier for a low-income job seeker who cannot afford to quit one job to train for another profession, often at his or her own expense and without a paycheck. In Nevada, the education and training requirement for barbers is 890 days — about two-and-a-half years.

    Cosmetologists must be licensed in all 50 states, and the average cost is $142, plus more than a year of education and training, and two exams. Commercial carpenters and cabinet makers, licensed in 29 states and the District of Columbia, fare even worse. They’re looking at about $300 and roughly 450 days in school.

    The list goes on — and gets increasingly more ridiculous. Seven states regulate tree trimmers, forcing them to fork over $174 and spend 369 days learning the ropes. Upholsterers and packagers — people who put things in boxes — also have the privilege of paying the government to ply their trade. And God forbid you want to become an interior designer in Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, or the District of Columbia. You’d better have nearly $400 and six years of time to get a license.

    Some states have it far worse than others. Overall, the level of licensing defies the traditional red state/blue state divide. Of the 102 low- and mid-income jobs surveyed by the Institute for Justice, Louisiana regulates no fewer than 71. In Wyoming, the number is only 24. If you consider the total cost and time burden of their licenses, Arizona rises to the top with 64 licensed industries, with associated fees of $455 and training requirements of 599 days. California comes in a close second, with Colorado and Wyoming bringing up the rear.
  5. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure where all of this leads. I definitely wouldn't want drones buzzing around my neighborhood for reasons of safety, privacy and aesthetics, so I'm in favor of regulation until convinced otherwise.
  6. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if you really want to use them or if you just wanted to raise the 1st Amendment issue...

    If you really want to use them, subcontract to somebody with a license, then work with that person to get the shots you want.

    Drones are dangerous, loud, and they annoy people ....

    But the footage is incredible.

    The best thing to do is have the licensed drone operator get the thing up, get what you need in as little time as possible, and bring it down.
  7. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I own and use one as a hobbyist. I also own a photography business. I've made some great photos and had many inquiries about them, but I haven't yet sold any because I don't have the pilots license or medical certificate. The fines are pretty stiff and not worth the risk to me right now.

    I think the First Amendment issue is interesting, particularly to posters on this board, so I wanted to bring that up as well.
  8. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    To be honest, if it were a matter of paying a licensing fee (even if it were $3,000), I would pay it because I know I'd get a good ROI. I already had to get a license to sell at retail (at a nominal fee), so I understand licenses are a cost of doing business (though as you point in your next post, licensing has gotten out of control).

    If they wanted me to take a 2-day safety seminar and have to pass a flight test, I'd be happy to do that, too. It wouldn't be unreasonable to require commercial drone pilots to demonstrate they are proficient at using them.

    However, they're requiring commercial drone operators to acquire skills that have nothing at all to do with flying a drone. A drone operator has no need to log flight hours in the cockpit of an airplane, much less to get an airman's medical certificate.
  9. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Not sure if you've been around them at all, but the DJI Phantom isn't particularly loud unless you're standing directly beneath it and it's within about 30 feet. Any higher and the sound isn't too bothersome (and obviously the higher and farther it gets, the quieter it gets).

    Also, one of the basic tenets of the exemptions the FAA grants to commercial drone operators is that they are far safer than using a helicopter or airplane to get similar footage or photographs.
  10. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Look into what it takes to get a license again because one of my buddies does drone videos for real estate companies and he is licensed and didn't have to learn to fly a plane.
  11. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    I would imagine commercial operators are required to license with the FAA because they're more likely to operate at altitudes and in situations that would require a better understanding of FAA regulations.

    As an aviator whose helicopter has been struck by an operating unmanned aircraft, I fully support this regulation.
  12. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    Frankly the issue of selling/not selling photographs should be irrelevant. Under this regulation they're not. I think that point is an overreach. The eventual use of photos or video has zero bearing on how safely the device is being operated. If your aim is to make sure operators are familiar with the vagaries of controlled airspace, then you make all users adhere to this standard.

    Also, I'd swear I've seen something about a 40o-foot ceiling for hobbyists. TBF, maybe you can shed some light on the importance of that altitude?
    bigpern23 and fossywriter8 like this.
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