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So you’ve been tasked with putting together a marketing video for your company, and you’ve been asked to include some drone shots. After all drone footage is all the rage these days! So what do you need to know before doing your drone deeds? Who can fly? Where can you fly? Hey what about that kid that owns a drone? It’s my hope to answer a few of those questions with a simple FAQ.

Does my drone pilot need a license? 

Yes. As of August 2016 the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires all pilots engaging in commercial operations of a drone to be licensed under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). If you are filming for inclusion in a video for a business it is a commercial operation. Yes, even if you don’t pay the operator it’s still a commercial operation because of how you will use the footage.

Does my drone pilot need to cary insurance?

At the current time there is no requirement for a drone operator to cary insurance. However, flying without insurance is incredibly risky and to do so is a danger you do not want to expose yourself, or your company to. If you are hiring a drone operator insist that they cary liability insurance.

There is an airport close to what I need filmed, can a drone be flown there?

It depends on the size of the airport and wether or not it has a control tower. If there is no tower then it’s most likely uncontrolled airspace and your pilot can fly anytime they chose to. If it has a control tower things get a little more complicated. For smaller airports there is controlled airspace that will extend 6 miles in all directions from the center of that airport. For larger airports this controlled airspace can extend even further. To fly in this controlled airspace your operator will need to get permission from the FAA. As of the writing of this article the process of getting permission can take up to 90 days. The FAA has promised to bring that timeframe way down in the future.

Are there other restrictions that a drone operator has to follow?

Yes. There are minimum visibility distance restrictions, they can only operate during daylight hours, they can not fly directly over the heads of those not involved in operating the drone and these are just a few of the restrictions. For a quick summary of the rules here’s a link.

But what about  that kid I know who owns a drone?  He can just pop in and film it for nothing and we’ll only be in the air for a couple minutes. What’s the worst that could happen?

Well for East Coast based SkyPan the worst was a fine of 1.9 million dollars. Granted they did break the rules multiple times. But the FAA can, and have, levied fines for just one flight. So don’t take the risk. Hire a licensed drone operator and let them work out all the details of your shoot.

Where can I get more information about filming with a drone?

Hit the Google’s kids. Look up your local drone operator and ask them whatever questions you may have. You’ll find that most are a friendly bunch that are happy to help you out. And if you’re in the San Diego area ask us! Our drone division can be found at Fill out our contact form there and ask us any question you might have, we would be happy to get you an answer. And we’ll even answer your questions if your not in the San Diego area.