BOMA International supports the creation of a federal policy that allows for the safe and responsible commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, for the real estate industry. BOMA International understands the safety and privacy concerns associated with the use of UAS and intends to work with the federal government to create sensible regulations for commercial use of UAS and make UAS technology viable in more areas.
Current federal law prohibits the use of UAS for commercial purposes unless the pilot has obtained a certificate of authorization (COA). Commercial use has been categorized broadly to include such practices as conducting land surveys, providing security services, and using photos / videos obtained from a UAS when listing a property. Those wishing to fly UAS for commercial use can apply for a COA from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claiming exemption under Section 333. The FAA grants authorization on a case-by-case basis. Since implementing the regulations in September 2014, over 500 applications for COAs have been granted.
Even with a COA from the FAA, there are extensive parameters regulating where UAS may fly. Due to safety, security, and privacy concerns, UAS cannot fly within 5 miles of an airport, over unprotected persons, or out of the sight line of the pilot. There are also rules that govern the sale and piloting of UAS. Not only does flying a UAS require a pilot's license but aircrafts must be registered with the FAA.
Currently, the FAA is working with the business community to explore ways to expand UAS use, including making pilot licenses easier to obtain, decreasing the distance a flight can be from a metropolitan area, and simplifying the process to obtain a COA. BOMA International is working with a coalition of real estate associations led by the National Association of Realtors to encourage the FAA to find ways to make UAS technology more accessible to the commercial real estate community.