drone regulations on ipadThis is the next post in our discussion on what roofers and home inspectors need in order to be able to use drones in their business. Our last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. Drones are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) whose operational usage is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In order for a roofer or home inspector to begin using a drone for their business operations, they must first learn the rules dictated by the FAA and pass a knowledge test. In this article, I will discuss the highlights of what type of information is on this test and how a potential drone operator can prepare.

Roofers and home inspectors are responsible for knowing all safety regulations regarding the operation of their drone

Part 107 guidelines apply to any drone that is being flown for commercial or business purposes and that weighs less than 55 pounds. The Operations Over People rule which became effective on April 21, 2021[1], allows unmanned aircraft to operate over people, moving vehicles, and at night under certain conditions without a waiver from the FAA. These regulations limit a drone pilot to only using their commercial drone for “routine operations,” such as flying a drone over a specific property with the explicit permission of the owner. Pilots operating under Part 107 may not fly their drone for a sustained period of time over a moving vehicle, and all persons within the restricted area that a drone is flying should be aware that an unmanned aircraft may fly over them.

Certified drone pilots are responsible for operating their drone in a safe manner and complying with all safety guidelines as put forth by the FAA. When a drone is in the air, the certified remote pilot in command must either be directly working the controls or directly supervising another working the controls. It is their responsibility to ensure that the drone is flying in a safe manner that is not hazardous to the safety of civilians on the ground or property. Drones may not fly faster than 100 mph, and may not fly higher than 400 feet above a given structure. The pilot must be familiar with local weather conditions, and refrain from flying a drone if weather does not permit. The pilot must also be aware of restricted areas and refrain from operating a drone in such areas, for example close proximity to an airport. While operating a drone, no person may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and certified pilots are prohibited from operating a drone if they knowingly have a physical or mental condition that would prevent them from operating one safely. Pilots must also operate their drone from a stationary point, and cannot operate from a moving aircraft, boat, or vehicle[2].

Certified drone pilots are responsible for the condition of their drone and must ensure that it complies with all regulations every time it is operated. Drone operators must inspect their drone prior to each flight to ensure that the drone is working properly. Drones should not have any unnecessary parts or attached parts that could cause harm or laceration to human skin, if a drone will be flying over the head of people. The drone should not carry any items that could be dropped in a hazardous manner. Hazardous materials may not be carried by the drone at any time.  If a drone is to be operated at night or 30 minutes prior to sunset or sunrise, it should be equipped with anti-collision lighting. The anti-collision lighting should have the capability of being seen within 3 statute miles in order to avoid a crash[3].

Commercial small drone operators fly under Part 107 guidelines as provided by the FAA and must pass the knowledge test

In addition to the topics already discussed, the aeronautical knowledge test will also cover the pilots knowledge of emergency procedures, airport operations, radio communication procedures, pilot understanding of drone maintenance and preflight procedures, and aeronautical decision making and judgment.[4] The knowledge test that roofers and housing inspectors would take covers Part 107 guidelines which pertains to operating a small, unmanned drone for commercial purposes. The FAA provides pilots with access to all necessary study information, which can be found on their website. Roofers and home inspectors who wish to take the knowledge test should download and study the Airmen Certification Standards, the Knowledge Test Study Guide, and the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Persons who intend to take the knowledge test may also take practice exams until they feel they are comfortable with the material.

Registering for the knowledge test is not completely straightforward and does require a few steps. My next article will provide greater detail on applying for a Remote Pilot Certificate, signing up for the test, and what to expect from testing day. As a home inspector who uses drones in my business, I understand that the process of getting certified may be overwhelming. The Drone Hangar does not just sell and repair drones; we also provide consultations and education to roofers and home inspectors who want to incorporate this technology into their business but feel overwhelmed by the process of getting started. If you have any further questions on how to become certified to operate a drone, do not hesitate to call us today.

[1] Operations Over People General Overview (faa.gov) — Accessed at https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/operations_over_people

[2] Code of Federal Regulations (ecfr.gove) — Accessed at https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-107

[3] See Reference Number 2

[4] See Reference Number 2