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Bird’s Eye View of Drone

        Regulations and Insurance

          Article courtesy of James Lyon, Vice-President, Professional Liability Insurers, Inc., RJ Dean and Associates. Originally published
        in Benchmarks magazine by the New Mexico Professional Surveyors.
          The following material is provided for informational purposes only. Before taking any action that could have legal or other im-
        portant consequences, speak with a qualified professional who can provide guidance that considers your unique circumstances.

          very so often, a new tool or technique will emerge that dramatically   •  Drones can carry external loads as long as they are securely attached
        Echanges the way architects and engineers conduct their businesses.   and do not affect the flight characteristics or hamper the control of
        Among recent revolutionary advancements now significantly impact-  the UAS. However, carrying hazardous materials on an unmanned
        ing the design industry is the development of unmanned aerial vehi-  aircraft is prohibited.
        cles (UAVs), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or, more   •  When in flight, small drones must remain in the visual line of sight
        commonly, drones.                                        of the pilot in command or any other person controlling the flight.
          More and more, drones are becoming an essential tool for A/E firms,   The unmanned aircraft must also remain close enough to the pilot/
        enabling them to perform their duties more effectively and more safely.   controller that he or she can observe the aircraft without the use of
        Some design professionals, such as surveyors, now rely on drones to   binoculars, telescopes or other visual aids other than corrective eye-
        complete many of their essential tasks. Others might use drones only   glasses or contact lenses.
        during narrow stages of their projects -- conducting a flyover of a build-  •  Small drones cannot fly under a covered structure or inside a covered
        ing at substantial project completion, for example.      stationary vehicle.
          Those who use drones for multiple purposes may want to purchase   •  Drones must keep their distance from and yield the right of way to
        their own drones and hire or train drone pilots. Other design firms may   any manned aircraft.
        prefer to contract the drone activities through a subcontractor or other
        third-party pilot. Regardless, design firms must understand the many   •  The ground speed of unmanned aircraft cannot exceed 100 miles per
        rules and regulations that govern the legal and safe use of these UAVs,   hour (87 knots).
        as well as the liabilities they may incur for not following these rules of   •  The altitude of the aircraft must not exceed 400 feet above ground
        the road.                                                level.  Exception:  when  the  unmanned  aircraft  remains  within  400
        The FAA’s Rules of the Road                              feet of a structure.
                                                               •  Minimum weather visibility for the drone pilot or control station is
          The  Federal  Aviation  Administration  (FAA)  released  its  Small  Un-  three miles.
        manned Aircraft Rules, (officially known as Part 107 of the Federal Avia-
        tion Regulations), effective August 29, 2016. Design firms using drones   •  No individual can command more than one unmanned aircraft at
        in their course of business -- whether they purchase and fly their own   a time.
        unmanned aircraft, or hire the services of third-party pilots -- face liabil-  •  No  individual  can  command  an  unmanned  aircraft  from  another
        ities should these FAA regulations be violated or damages occur.   moving aircraft.
          Drone-related liabilities extend from personal injuries and property   •  No individual can command an unmanned aircraft from a moving
        damage caused by the drone in flight to losses incurred due to project   ground vehicle except in sparsely populated areas.
        errors and omissions related to the use or misuse of drone-collected
        data. For example, if a third party was hit by a drone in flight due to pilot   •  Careless or reckless operations are prohibited.
        error, the company would likely face liability for physical damages and/  •  No person with a known physical or mental condition that could cause
        or personal injuries suffered. If the design consultant made a design   unsafe operation of a small unmanned aircraft can operate the vehicle.
        error due to faulty data collected by the drone, a professional liability
        would likely be incurred. That’s why it’s important to know the oper-  •  The pilot is required to inspect the unmanned aircraft prior to each
        ational rules and ensure you have appropriate safeguards, including   operation.
        proper insurance, to cover any losses and liabilities.  •  The remote pilot in command must 1) hold a remote pilot airman
                                                                 certificate with a small unmanned aircraft rating or 2) be under the
        The Basics of FAA Regulations                            direct supervision of someone who holds such a certificate.
          Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations is available in full on the   •  To earn a remote pilot certificate, an individual must be at least 16
        FAA Website: Here are the highlights of the   years old and vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
        regulations that were put into effect back in 2016:      He or she must also be able to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge
        •  You must register all small unmanned aircraft with the FAA.  by  either  1)  passing  an  aeronautical  knowledge  test  given  at  an
                                                                 FAA-approved testing center or 2) holding a Part 61 pilot certificate
        •  The total weight of the small unmanned aircraft, including cameras   and completing both a flight review (within the past 24 months) and
          or other add-ons and payloads, must be kept below 55 pounds (25   an online FAA unmanned aircraft training course.
          kilograms). Aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds are governed by
          separate, more complex rules.                                                       Continued on next page

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