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Drone Use in Business: What’s Likely and Legal?

Business Litigation / Business Productivity/Practices / Sticky Situations / Unexpected Business Risks

In June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its operational rules for the commercial use of drones, also known as unmanned aircraft (UAS). These rules provide clarity for businesses who may be contemplating the use of drones for commercial purposes.

Perhaps the most well-publicized intended use for drones came from Amazon, the online retail giant. Amazon proposed using drones for package delivery in 2013. It even started testing the service in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Amazon’s vision is to “deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, travel 10 miles, and deliver packages that weigh up to 5 pounds.” And just recently, Amazon received a U.S. patent proposing the use of infrastructure, such as lamp posts, to dock its drones.

But commercial drone use is not limited to small-package delivery. Businesses here in the U.S. are already using drones for many other purposes such as:

·   land surveys;

·   utility inspections;

·   mapping;

·   rooftop inspections; and

·   media video.

To use a drone for commercial purposes, the drone must weigh less than 55 pounds. The drone operator must either hold a proper certificate, known as a “remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating,” or the operator must work under the “direct supervision” of a person who has such a certificate. Drones must also be used only within line-of-sight. There are many other requirements for drone usage that you may review on the FAA’s website.

Commercial drone use comes with significant responsibility, as well as potential liability, and is a brand new, rapidly developing area of law. If you can envision using drone’s in any aspect of your business, contact us first so we can help you do it in the right way. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we proactively guide you to not just stay out of trouble with your business, but to ensure your business is on the cutting edge of growth.

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