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Tricky Question

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jeriami, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. Jeriami

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    If i am asked to estimate work to redo a roof, for instance strip 3 layers & plywood out & redo from scratch, & i use the drone to merely take pictures in order to see the total extent of the job, is that really much different then me climbing on the roof, & taking pictures? Would this be a no-no to the FAA? Thanks in advance for any input.

    The way i see it, i am not selling the pictures or video i take, i am merely using them as a tool to see what needs to be done.
     
  2. msinger

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    The FAA feels any commercial use is a no-no. What you're describing is definitely commercial.
     
  3. Jeriami

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    What if the estimate i am providing is free? & i actually do the work as a separate contract?
     
  4. msinger

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    Is your free estimate going to be used somehow to make money? If so, then the FAA would say it's commercial.

    There really are no gray areas. Fortunately for you, you don't work in a business where clients require a 333 exemption (e.g. real estate). So, you could probably get away with it unless a competitor reports you to the FAA.
     
  5. Jeriami

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    I appreciate the input. So its really a matter of "getting caught in the act" thank you! I really, really would not think snapping a few pictures & using them for evaluation purposes, not selling the pictures would be okay.
     
  6. msinger

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    If you follow what the FAA says is the law, you will likely never use your Phantom for commercial purposes. It'll be far cheaper and take far less time to get up on a ladder and snap the photos with a camera. If you choose to believe what others say (i.e. you just need to fly safely), then you're going to get away with it as long as you don't get caught by the FAA. And, you'll have to do something pretty stupid in order to get caught (e.g. cause a horrific accident) or have a competitor that really hates you.
     
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  7. Meta4

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    Msinger is right.
    To the FAA it's any use as part of any commercial activity - not just selling photos.
    The ridiculous thing is that the flying and photographing is completely legal - as long as it's recreational.
    It's not the flying that the FAA considers illegal - it's the use of the resulting imagery.

    So to use your example, if the owner of the property flew and took photographs to save the roofing contractor the expense and risk of getting up on the roof for an inspection, that would be OK.
    But if the contractor does it as part of their business, it's illegal.
    So rather than aviation safety it comes down to an issue of restriction of trade and determining who is allowed to sell or use photography commercially.
     
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  8. msinger

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    If you challenge the FAA on this, they will point you to a vague US law (see 49 USCĀ§ 44711). And, it's a law the FAA Administrator has the power to exempt anyone from (see 49 USCĀ§ 44701). Don't waste your time trying to understand and/or fight the FAA though. You won't get anywhere with them.
     
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  9. olof Ekbergh

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    I think using a MR to survey a roof is great. But only to find obvious damage or improper flashing etc. A real inspection needs to be on the roof or in the attic.

    If you use a MR to do any part of the survey it is for commercial purpose so the FAA is clear on this. You need a 333 or what ever is coming next.

    Will you get caught, if you do use the MR for initial inspections (many roofers use binoculars for a quick inspection it works well in most cases) most likely not.

    If you were flying as a hobbyist and fly over your mothers roof and discover some shingles blew off and then fix that, that is fine. But if you go to check a house in hope of getting a contract and use the MR that is commercial use.
     
  10. Skywalker

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    So, the videos of herding sheep by drone depict an illegal use?
     
  11. msinger

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    Yes, if the person is herding sheep to make money. Now, if they are just pets or wild sheep, then it won't be an issue.
     
  12. BillG

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    I've seen websites of drone photographers who say the photos and videos are free, they're charging only for the editing work. And they think that makes it legal. That shows true ignorance of how this all works. As mentioned above, there is NO way around this. If you are using the drone for commercial work it is impossible to mask that. But realistically it's also pretty hard to get caught unless you get ratted out or do something really stupid.

    Remember the FAA's motto: "We're not happy 'til you're not happy."
     
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  13. 480sparky

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    Simple solution: Let your 14-year-old kid do the flying.
     
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  14. bobmyers

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    tumblr_nozbavrxe51ro8ysbo1_500.gif Now how hard was that?:cool:
     
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  15. Skywalker

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    All my sheep are pets...

    and delicious!
     
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  16. bobmyers

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    OF COURSE:cool::p
     
  17. Justgregg

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    my roofer used a program that used a satalite image that even measured all the angles of the roof!
     
  18. Bryce

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    OP, you are fine using your drone for this; it's a free estimate. Please do it and don't listen to the doomsayers.

    In fact, doing it for $50 bucks won't kill you. There are no FAA resources available to bag you for a $50 dollar job. They have no way of knowing that you did it for money anyways. It will simply be a you tube video online of a "roof", or better yet, supplied to your client on a thumb drive.

    There is no algorithmic function that can discern between a video for money and a video for hobby.

    I (we) fly over neighborhoods all the time... there are thousands of roofs. Theoretically I could be charging $100's per person... but how would the FAA ever know. More importantly, how would they enforce 'it".... whatever "it" is... they don't even know. And they don't have a 22 year old FAA employee, looking at Youtube's 16+ exabytes of yearly video uploads; and you probably would have provided it on an SSD or thumbdrive anyways.
     
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  19. shockwave199

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    Having had high wifi transmission noise and erratic behavior with two different birds just flying close to my house in the backyard, I'd say you're probably better off taking traditional pictures. Unless you are a very capable pilot, it can be a challenge to do close in flying with compromised visual perspective. If it truly gets on the opposite side of a roof and you lose los, you risk loss of signal. If the drone gets away from you and clips a cable feed wire or busts a window, then what? Is it really worth the risk? Personally, I think it's a great use for it but I would not attempt it for customers until I did a number of practice flights doing it and understand how to best pilot the flights and tweak some settings like RTH in anticipation of signal problems. Good luck.
     
  20. BillG

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    It doesn't matter that it's a "free estimate." That doesn't make it non-commercial. Just understand what you're violating and the possible consequences. But don't pretend that it's not commercial work and try to justify it to yourself or anyone else.

    No, the FAA is not scouring YouTube for violators. The way you'll get caught is by someone complaining or by you really screwing up badly and flagrantly repeatedly violating safety issues like that company with the huge fine not long ago.

    If you do hurt someone or something you probably won't have insurance to cover it unless you pretend it was just hobby flying, not commercial work.

    I've flown very close to my own roof LOS with no problems and I have lots of electronics, WiFi, etc. Couldn't get the leaves to blow out of my gutters though so I'm still gonna need a **** ladder.
     
    #20 BillG, Nov 12, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
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