Drones can now legally film real estate for the first time

Looking for property in Southern Arizona? You'll soon be enticed by drone footage, thanks to a new ruling by the FAA. A company called Tierra Antigua Realty of Tucson, Arizona is the first realtor to get the FAA's nod to use a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to take aerial footage of homes for sale. You might be thinking "haven't I already seen plenty of obnoxious US aerial real estate footage?" You'd be right, but technically, all that video has been illegal -- even though the FAA hasn't been enforcing such regulations. Thanks to a recent ruling, however, it may start to clamp down again.

Does a drone pilot really need to know what 'turbulence penetration speed' is?

There are strict conditions on the Arizona realtor, however. Confirming an earlier rumor, Tierra's drone pilot will need to have a valid private pilot permit, and must keep the drone in sight at all times. (Quick rant: as a pilot myself, the former restriction sounds draconian -- getting such a license can take years and cost more than $10,000. It also seems like massive overkill for a sub-10-pound aircraft; does a drone pilot really need to know what "turbulence penetration speed" is? That said, I am in favor of some kind of certification similar to a course for getting a boating or hunting license. End of rant.)

The FAA also granted a permit to crop-monitoring company, bringing the total number of exemptions to 14. The US regulator has delayed its new regulations numerous times, though to be fair, it has to deal with a lot of players, and recent boneheaded incidents haven't helped. Hopefully, clear guidelines will be issued by the FAA and Congress by next year.