Over the past couple of years, drone of all sizes have become an increasingly popular new devise with consumers and some of you may have received one for Christmas. While they are fun to fly and depending on the model are capable of taking amazing photos and videos, they do come with some inherent risks. For the past year or more the federal government has been working on new requirements pertaining to the use of drones. Yesterday, (January 9, 2019) Transport Canada issued a news release announcing what the new regulations entail.
I have owned and flown a drone for over two years and have logged dozens of flying hours including during a trip my wife and I made around New Zealand as reflected on the adjoining photo. In the right hands they are relatively easy to fly. Like anything else however they are not foolproof and require a degree of common sense, skill, adequate, through preparation and you need to know the rules.
Transport Canada as well as other governing bodies elsewhere defines and treats drones for what they are, they are an aircraft. In order to enhance my flying skills and knowledge I completed 20 hours of ground school just like I would for a pilot’s license. Topics including flight plans and preparation, safety, maintenance and other relevant topics to flying an airplane. For several years I have had a Restricted Operators Certificate (ROC) for the VHF radio in my boat, through this ground school course I also obtained an aeronautical ROC.
I was one of the first real estate practitioners in our area to use aerial photography for real estate marketing. I use the tern “aerial” because at the time small consumer type drone did not exist. The photographer I used was licensed and insured. He flew what was essentially a radio controlled helicopter with a Sony digital camera mounted underneath and it took some great shots see attached). To this point I have not used my own personal drone in my real estate practice as essentially it is illegal without having a licence and the required amount of liability insurance. Now that the new rules have been established, I will follow though and obtain all of the needed registration and insurance etc needed in order to be fully compliant with the new regulations and to fly safely. Before every flight I ensure that my drone battery is fully charged and that my take off point has been recorded into the GPS system of my drone. Why? If my drone and controller were to loose radio contact with each other, my drone will automatically fly back to the take off point where I can then land. My drone will not even take off when I am in close proximity to any airport or aerodrome. The system simply shuts down as a safety precaution.
I see a lot of real estate marketing that is using drone photography and I am willing to bet many of aerial or drone photos are being taken by unlicensed and or non-insured operators. If a drone crashes or otherwise hits a person, car or your neighbour’s house, the drone operator better have some good liability insurance coverage. If you are listing your home for sale and your listing REALTOR® includes drone photos in their marketing efforts then I highly suggest you ask “is the drone operator licensed and insured?”
Drones can be a a lot of fun but by no means should they be treated as a toy. By taking the necessary precautions and using common sense I have never been even remotely close to a crash or had my drone fly off never to be seen again. It’s just not worth the risk from a liability standpoint nor would I enjoy having a two thousand dollar piece of equipment lost as the result of carelessness.