Updated drone laws and licensing, what does it mean for content creators?

On June 21, 2016 the FAA officially released Part 107 of section 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). I would not recommend saying that three times fast. When I first learned of the new law, little did I know that its confusing title was only the beginning of what would be a confusing journey. I don’t say “confusing” with a negative connotation. Drones burst onto the scene with such audacious speed that it left content creators, drone manufacturers and even the Federal Government in an initial state of shock.

The dust has largely settled now. Across the country, drone manufacturers and pilots alike are taking Drone Law more seriously, especially as the regulations themselves become more fine tuned. That is not to say that there is complete clarity. Drones and Drone Law are very similar to other areas of technology these days, in which the modern axiom applies: “If you’re not confused, then you’re not paying attention.”

But the “why” of drone law is no longer the question. It is here to stay and anyone wishing to be apart of the age of Unmanned Aircraft must embrace it. What matters now is the “what.” What does drone law mean for us as content creators? What does it mean for our clients? Lucky for us, we find these questions extremely fun to answer!

Simply put, drone usage and drone laws mean two things: greater potential and greater responsibility. The potential for drone application is ever expanding. In this era of mass online engagement, production value is set to grow in terms of getting your content noticed. Drones provide just that: enhanced production value. We are constantly experimenting and researching new ways to implements drones in a way that both makes sense, and brings true value to our clients. Anyone with an iPhone can capture and broadcast content, but strategically placed production value using tools like Drones can truly make the difference.

However, this new exciting wave of potential comes with some responsibility. Airspace that was once used only by airplane and helicopter pilots is now shared with anyone who chooses to buy and fly a drone. While this is indeed a real responsibility, it is by no means an obstacle. If anything, it helps us by enabling us to offer even more to our clients. It is now on our shoulders to ensure that the airspace is legally accessible, all permits have been applied for, and that the operation is conducted in accordance with FAA safety guidelines. Luckily for us, we love this stuff! Luckily for our clients, they don’t have to worry about it!

In summary, we truly believe that drones can provide serious value to production. In our modern digital lives, it is easy to glance over this new technology. With the flood of media that we are exposed to every day, things like drones can almost seem like just another gadget. But Drones are not a gimmick. They are serious tools and we are striving constantly to push the limits on what they are capable of!

Becoming an FAA Pilot

It is official, I am certified as FAA Remote Pilot, and I have the license to prove it. While this was a big moment for us at Gray Digital Group, it might be helpful to explain what this means for our clients. But first, let’s quickly talk about why a license is needed in the first place!

It’s no secret that drone ownership has increased exponentially.  Not only have they exploded into the consumer’s space, but in the professional space as well. Video footage and photographs that once required a helicopter are now possible for anyone who can afford a drone, which are becoming increasingly affordable. Ever since DJI released it’s “Phantom 1” in January of 2013, drones have spread like wildfire throughout the video production industry. There have been many advancements in video technology over the years, but drone technology is unique in that in crosses the line into another industry: aviation.

Aviation via motorized flight is still a relatively new endeavor. The first sustained powered flight occurred in 1903, and the first commercial aviation industry didn’t spring into existence until 1925 with the “Air Mail Act.” What makes Commercial Drones so unique is the speed with which they flew into the scene (pun intended). In years past, most technological advances kept pace with legislation, and vice versa. Airspace was by and large reserved for large airlines, with the occasional exception for model rockets, kites and so forth. With drones now sharing airspace with everyone else, regulation was needed.

As I went though the process of becoming certified, I noticed that the primary objective of the FAA was to ensure that Drone Pilots respected and understood airspace laws. The whole point of requiring a license is not to create barriers of entry, but to equip pilots with the knowledge to fly safely and legally. Furthermore, an official FAA license allows us to bring even more legitimacy to our drone product offerings.

Aside from simply becoming a legal requirement, a drone license demonstrates to our clients that we are proficient in all aspects of drone operation. Details like airspace classification, waiver applications, drone laws and safety requirements are just a few facets of the commercial drone process. Luckily our clients don’t have to worry about any of these details, they can focus solely on the content they wish to capture and allow Gray Digital Group to do the heavy lifting. We are proud to offer this service to our clients, and even more excited to see what the future holds!

Mark Berry
Videographer/Producer/Storyteller

Contact us here to start your drone project today!