Where Can I Fly? Rules and Regulations About Where Drones Can Film
As drones continue to soar in popularity, their use in photography and filming has become increasingly common. However, with the growing number of drones buzzing around, concerns about privacy and safety arise. To address these issues, there are specific rules and regulations in place for drone filming and photography.
In this article, we'll provide an overview of the laws related to capturing images and footage using drones.
Obtaining Necessary Permits If you plan to use a drone for commercial filming purposes, you may need to obtain additional permits and permissions from the relevant authorities. This could include permits from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for drone operation and potential state or local permits for filming. Recreational flyers do not need FAA permits to capture drone footage, but must still adhere to other rules and restrictions.
Privacy Laws While there are no specific laws that specifically address filming using drones, existing privacy laws may apply to drone photography and filming. It is essential to adhere to these laws to avoid invading someone's privacy. For example, it is generally prohibited to capture images or record audio in areas where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as inside their homes or in enclosed private spaces. When in doubt, it’s always best (and polite) to get permission to film from anyone who may appear in your footage.
Respecting Private Property Even from the air, you must respect private property rights when filming with a UAV. Flying your drone over private property without the owner's permission can be considered trespassing. Keep in mind that capturing images or footage of individuals on private property without their consent may lead to legal issues.
No-Fly Zones and Restricted Areas While not directly related to filming, it's crucial to be aware of no-fly zones and restricted areas to avoid legal trouble. This includes staying away from sensitive locations like military installations, government buildings and national parks, where drone operations are restricted or prohibited. Sorry, no filming over Area-51. The FAA recommends you try the B4UFly app to check where you can and cannot operate your drone.
Flying Over People As previously mentioned, you are usually not permitted to fly a drone directly over people who are not participating in the drone's operation. This rule applies to both recreational and commercial drone use and is in place to protect the privacy and safety of individuals on the ground.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rules for Drone Filming
The FAA also has regulations for drone operations in general, which may impact whether or not you’re allowed to film in a given situation. If you are using a drone to film footage for commercial use (e.g., for a movie, TV show, or commercial advertisement), you need to adhere to the FAA's rules, including:
Obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate: To operate a drone for commercial purposes, you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate by passing the FAA's knowledge test.
Observe Altitude Restrictions: Drone flights are limited to 400 feet above ground level, unless you are flying closer to a structure, in which case you may fly up to 400 feet above the structure.
Maintain Visual Line of Sight: You must always keep the drone within your visual line of sight during the flight.
Avoid Flying over People: Part 107 prohibits flying over people who are not directly participating in the drone operation, unless they are located inside a covered structure or enclosed vehicle.
Daylight Operation: Drones must be operated only during daylight hours or during civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset), with appropriate anti-collision lighting if operated during civil twilight.
Remember that the laws and regulations surrounding drone filming can evolve and change, so it's essential to stay up-to-date with the latest FAA rules and any additional regulations at the federal, state and local level. Before flying, we recommend you use this map to see restrictions in your area.
When it comes to filming using a drone, you must adhere to the existing privacy laws, respect private property, and avoid flying over people not involved in the drone's operation. Additionally, if you're engaging in commercial drone filming, you must follow the FAA's regulations, which include obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate and observing altitude, visibility, and daylight restrictions.
Concerned about flying on your own?
The safe bet for capturing killer footage and ensuring you’re totally legal is to work with a professional drone operator. Here at Extreme Aerial, we’ve been filming with drones for 9 years - for everything from TV commercials and movies to weddings, road inspections and more.