What Part 107 means for Mark Leisher Productions.
Last Tuesday the Federal Aviation Administration finalized its first operational rules for commercial use of small, unmanned aircraft systems. For those saying “Huh?” unmanned aircraft systems are better known as drones. These new rules offer safety regulations and are designed to minimize risk to people and property on the ground beneath them, as well as other aircraft.
First, the person flying the drone has to be 16 or older and have a remote pilot certificate rated for small drones, or be directly supervised by someone with a certificate. Second, drone operators will now have to conduct their own version of a pre-flight check to make sure that the drone is operating properly, and that includes testing the communications link with the controller. Third, the drone has to be flown in daylight, and if it is flown at twilight it has to have anti-collision lights. Fourth, the drone has to be in sight of the operator at all times. Finally, the drone can’t be flown directly over people, unless the operator can demonstrate that they are doing so in a safe manner, and the people involved have signed waivers.
That’s a lot of rules, and that’s not even all of them. There are also regulations about travel height and speed, and the FAA is still considering privacy issues. So Part 107 will probably keep being revised as more and more people and companies use drones routinely. But now for the first time, drone operators have a clear, distinct set of rules to follow.
These operational rules are a big deal. Drone usage has been on the rise in the past few years, both by hobbyists and by professionals. But flying drones in public, without a set of regulations to follow, was always kind of iffy. Did you need to get a permit each time you flew the drone? What sort of safety precautions would you have to take? Was today the day that a police officer would demand you stop flying, and ticket you? With Part 107, operators can now use their drones without worrying – as long as they follow the rules. And for Mark Leisher Productions, that’s huge.
Mark bought his drone, a 3D Robotics X8 Plus, in the spring of 2015. Since then, he’s joined the DC Area Drone User Group, gotten lessons and mentorship from experienced operators, and worked with the drone pretty much every weekend. But because of the shifting rules and uncertainty, we haven’t been able to use the drone on many productions. With Part 107 in place, we’re thrilled that we can now offer the drone and operator as part of our suite of services. Maybe a realtor wants aerial shots of a property, or a mountain climber wants close-ups of his ascent, or a script calls for an overhead shot – we can now capture each of those without the added expense of hiring a helicopter or crane.
We created a short video with footage from the first three shoots we did with the drone, have a look! Got questions about unmanned aircraft systems and how you can use them in your next project? Shoot us an email, we’re happy to answer! And from now on, get ready for a ton of more projects featuring footage shot by drone – it’s an incredible tool, and we can’t wait to use it!