What Every Estate Agent Needs to Know About Using Drones
What Every Estate Agent Needs to Know About Using Drones, and keeping on the right side of the law.
The demand for aerial Images from Estate agents and land developers has exploded over the last two years. In to-days market place, the buyer wants to see what they get for their money.
With Aerial Images from Ikopta, they can now see ALL of what they are buying, in one image, even if it is a small country estate.
In the rush to show case the latest listing, utilising the latest UAV/Drone technology many Estate Agents in the UK could be breaking the law, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and the penalty could be up to £5000.00 plus costs.
What the CAA say
The person controlling a small UAS is fully responsible for the safe operation of any flight, but it is important to consider whether a permission from the CAA is needed.
You must request permission from the CAA if you plan to:
fly the aircraft on a commercial basis (i.e. conducting ‘aerial work’)
fly a camera/surveillance fitted aircraft within congested areas or closer (than the distances listed within Article 167) to people or properties (vehicles, vessels or structures) that are not under your control
Permission is not required if:
- The aircraft will not be flown close to people or properties, and you will not get ‘valuable consideration’ (i.e. payment) from the flight, then a permission is not needed;
- Permission is also not required for ‘practice’ or demonstration flights. However, the other requirements of Articles 166 and 167 must still be complied with, and it must also be ensured that no one is endangered while flying the aircraft.
The regulations are intended to protect people and / or properties that are not involved in the activity. They are also aimed at being as ‘light touch’ and proportionate as possible, so there is a great deal that can be done (especially for private or recreational flights) without the need to approach the CAA at all.
What is Commercial Work?
The CAA has tried to simplify the decision tree as to wether permission is required. However, as pointed out in numerous articles such as Estate Agent Today (READ HERE) some Estate Agents are mis-understanding the rules, and its that misunderstanding that can lead to prosecution, brought by the CAA. (READ HERE).
As with most regulations, the devil is in the detail and how they are interpreted. The issue is misunderstanding the term “Commercial work”.
Because money has not changes hands, it does not mean it’s not for “Commercial” purposes. The Images are used to aid the marketing & selling of houses’. For this service agents receive a fee from the vendor, therefore, even if no fee is paid to the operator of the UAV/Drone, the images will have to be done under a PFCO (permission for commercial operations) from the CAA.
What does that mean to Estate Agents?
- If ordering Aerial Images, it is your responsibility to ensure that the operator has a valid PFCO from the CAA covering the works you are requesting. PFCO should look like this (PFCO).
- You must ensure that have, and ask to see a commercial UAV/Drone insurance policy that covers for Aerial works. Its is worth noting that 99% of commercial insurance policies will excluded aerial work & UAV/Drones.
- You may be already using a UAV/Drone. Great if you are, and that you’ve had the proper training, assessments, and flight hours.
- Your Insurance cover includes aerial work, that you are keep correct logs and safety records.
You are at risk of prosecution from the CAA and they are actively investigating. Remember, every image published on a website, printed in a news paper or magazine is all the evidence they need to initiate an investigation.
So, don’t fall foul of the law!
Make life easy, use an approved operator. who is a member or a professional trade organisation such as ARPAS or the Drone Safe Register (DSR). It will be safer, cheaper and less time consuming than trying to operating your own UAV/Quadcopter.
Contact Ikopta today to see how we can help.