January 24, 2012

The LAPD Tells Realtors To Buzz Off

A plugged-in tipster forwards an alert from the California Association of Realtors warning its members not to hire or fly unmanned aircraft to capture aerial photographs for the marketing of high-end properties.

[A] Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) investigation has…revealed that aerial photos where unmanned aircraft were observed have appeared on certain real estate sales websites. According to FilmL.A., the LAPD Air Division has issued [a] warning as it intends to prosecute violators in the near future.
Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s current policy, no one can operate an unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System without specific authority. Operators who wish to fly an unmanned aircraft for civil use must obtain an FAA experimental airworthiness certificate, which will not be issued to an unmanned aircraft used for compensation or hire. Although the FAA allows hobbyists to fly model airplanes for recreational purposes under specific guidelines, that authority does not extend to operators flying unmanned aircraft for business purposes.

In the words of our industry tipster, "I don’t know if any 'drones' have buzzed the SF skyline to shoot films yet, but…agents up here have talked about trying it."

First Published: January 24, 2012 9:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Three hundred bucks will get you one of these for aerial photo shoots. Thanks for posting, as I had no idea about the airspace restrictions. I guess they'll have to stick to balloons or kites for a lower tech alternative.

Posted by: EBGuy at January 24, 2012 10:33 AM

I'll bet that the primary consumer of aerial drone recon in the LA region will be the paparazzi.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 24, 2012 10:43 AM

The teed/haze team has a few of these and they are pretty hysterical with the theatrical music intros. I've posted a link to them previously on here. I don't see how the FAA can stop the use of these small drones with cameras. I guess the definition of an unmanned drone could be subjective. Maybe not. Interesting read in the name link.

[Editor's Note: As noted above, "Although the FAA allows hobbyists to fly model airplanes for recreational purposes under specific guidelines, that authority does not extend to operators flying unmanned aircraft for business purposes."]

Posted by: eddy at January 24, 2012 10:45 AM

Sure you can fly drones for business purposes... if you're Halliburton and like to fly over, say, Tehran.

Posted by: BobN at January 24, 2012 11:50 AM

Sure you can fly drones for business purposes... if you're Halliburton and like to fly over, say, Tehran.

Which is neither "civil" nor "in the National Airspace System." I suppose you're equally free to fly an unmanned drone for business purposes if it's on the ground with a person in it.

Posted by: flipflop at January 24, 2012 12:01 PM

The whole business purposes is very gray. "Oh hey, I took this cool video of my house from the sky last week with my new AR Drone. Maybe we could use this in the listing video. Sounds great."

Go check out the Teed/Haze 3855 Washington listing on their website for a prime example. You can even see the drone shadow in one of the pics.

Posted by: eddy at January 24, 2012 12:15 PM

I would be very surprised if the FAA regs didn't have a lower bound to the altitude.

Posted by: EH at January 24, 2012 12:45 PM

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