Drone photography is an upcoming business, but it is also being scrutinized by the FAA. Photo by Thomas Bender.

Drones weave in and around FAA regulations

When Jared Serfozo first saw drones being sold in America, the technology caught his attention.

“I had to have one,” he said.

Serfozo is a videographer who makes training videos for a software company. But he has freelanced for others on the side since he was in high school.

Since purchasing his first drone, Serfozo bought the domain name sarasotadrone.com.

He sees drone footage as a way to enhance his videos, but he strays away from only drone videos. He thinks that You Tube is “oversaturated with boring drone videos.”

“The drone should be a tool in making your video,” he said.

Serfozo stays way from using the word “commercial” in his materials, but the Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial drones users to apply and have an exemption. (How? It’s complicated; see below).

Serfozo charges his clients while doing freelance video work, which sometimes includes drone footage. He thinks FAA regulations for commercial drone users are unreasonable.

 

Jared Serfozo lands his drone, a DJI Inspire 1. Photo by Jennifer Nesslar.

Jared Serfozo lands his drone, a DJI Inspire 1. Photo by Jennifer Nesslar.

 

“I think a drone should be part of any media company’s tools,” he said. To stop anybody, to just say ‘don’t do it,’ is not really fair.”

He flies according to hobbyist guidelines (not so complicated; see below). He says he and many others in the drone community continue to fly despite FAA regulations.

He thinks the technology progressed faster than the FAA was able to regulate it in an appropriate way. He hopes that the FAA will develop a test people can take to become commercial drone pilots.

“I’m fine with regulation, I’m fine with fees, I’m fine with testing,” he said. “I just need to be able to take those things. As soon as I can I will.”

Drones recommended by Jared:

Jared’s drone: DJI Inspire 1. Costs just under $3,000

The drone Jared wishes he had: DJI Phanton 3. Costs about $1,200

Jared also says 3DR makes good drones—he’s considering switching to that brand.

The law behind drones:

Drones, known as unmanned aircraft systems by the Federal Aviation Administration, have a lot of regulations surrounding them. These regulations are constantly being revised, but here’s the skinny:

As a hobby:

It’s not too hard to stay in regulation. Basically, you just need to fly responsibly. Here are a few of the basic rules:

Stay below 400 feet

Don’t fly above people

Before flying within five miles of an airport, contact the airport

Fly only during the day

You can find more information at knowbeforeyoufly.com

Commercially:

To fly your drone commercially, which includes selling photos or videos, you must:

1. Apply for an exemption OR

2. Obtain a special airworthiness certificate for experimental purposes.

Exemptions

In order to obtain an airworthiness certificate, you must meet standards greater than that of an exemption. Here are some things to know about exemptions, and how to get on your way to applying for an exemption:

• As of June 23, the FAA has approved 656 petitions and closed 85.

• To apply, you’ll need a sport or recreational pilot license. This costs about $4500 and requires 20 hours of your time. A private pilot license works too, but that will cost twice as much and take twice as much time.

• File a petition for exemption at least 120 days before you want to fly commercially.

• Don’t ask for the moon. The FAA only approves users to fly in “low-risk” situations.

• Don’t expect a cookie-cutter process. The FAA approves on a case-by-case basis, and says the process looks different for everyone. Depending on you and your business, the process could require legal fees.

Don’t want to get an exemption to participate in commercial activity? You won’t be the only one who is avoiding it. But you’ll risk a fine from the FAA.

meet the writer

the latest

Derek occasionally gets homework assignments from daycare. It mostly consists of him learning how to trace his own name, and some very simple math problems – simple if you’re way above the age of 4, that it is. But it’s homework nonetheless. And we want Derek to know the importance of school, especially since he’ll … MORE>>
10. “Rides are always free,” drivers say. “Tips are always appreciated.” 9. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 8. Call 941-444-2585 for an iRide. (Soon there will be a Gotcha app for smartphones.) There are no set routes; you can hail any of the colorful electric vehicles you see on the street. 7. The downtown service area extends … MORE>>
Derek has decided he wants to be a firefighter when he gets older. Keep in mind he’s 4 and he can’t decide what color pajamas he wants to wear to bed. So that may change. But the good thing is I have used this to our advantage. Derek wants to grow and big to become … MORE>>
OMG, OMG, OMG! Fans are finally getting to see the first teaser trailer for the latest Star Wars film. The trailer was officially released at “Star Wars Celebration” in Orlando today. “The Last Jedi” (Episode VIII) will be in theaters on December 15.   The offical poster has also been released.         … MORE>>
Apparently, today is National Beer Day. April 7th is the celebration of when beer became legal again in the United States after the Cullen-Harrison Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23, 1933. Sounds like it may have caught on as National Beer Day in 2009, when Justin Smith of Richmond, … MORE>>
Thanks to the city of Sarasota, Lido Beach just got a bright new addition: a cerulean marker displaying how high sea levels are projected to rise in the next 100 years. Here’s the thing–the facts are scary. We said it. To name just a few: In less than 15 years, by 2030, sea levels are … MORE>>
I hate eggs. Hate them. You can scramble them, poach them, make them sunny side up, and then you can go ahead and stuff yourself because I want nothing to do with them. I have a hard time watching people eat eggs. I liked French toast until someone told me it was nothing more than … MORE>>
Ringling College of Art + Design will be showcasing the best work in each major, in the annual Best of Ringling. The outstanding student work was selected by a jury of visiting artists and faculty members. The majors include: Advertising Design 
Business of Art and Design Computer Animation Film Fine Arts 
Game Art Graphic Design … MORE>>
It’s rare to see eight female filmmakers lined up in a row discussing their short film and documentary work–mostly because it’s rare to see eight women filmmakers together in one room at all. But that’s exactly what we saw Saturday evening at the reception for the 18th annual Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival, highlighting women … MORE>>
Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day. I’m sure social media will be a minefield of shenanigans. There are some do’s and don’ts to follow. Do: Make your prank harmless. Don’t: Trust anyone. Good luck. MORE>>