As I was surveying all the local progress to our economy while in one of Aspen Helicopters’ aircrafts on a recent Oxnard Chamber business visit, I couldn’t help feeling that this must be what it’s like to be a drone. At approximately 1,500 feet above the ground, we had an excellent aerial view of Oxnard’s impressive business growth and beautiful landscapes.
Drones, officially called an Unmanned Aircraft System or a “UAS”, came onto the scene a few years ago rather quickly. You can purchase a drone online or in a store for as low as $49.99 or spend thousands of dollars with sophisticated added capabilities ranging from cameras to high definition live video. What you may not know is that there are rules, regulations and legislation being implemented just as fast as the newest drone models hits the market.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Safety Briefing (May/June 2017), the following are guidelines that an owner of a UAS needs to adhere to even if you are flying your drone as a hobbyist:
Last year, the FAA released its Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) regulations with the new Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107. New owners of a drone should check the website at www.faa.gov/uas before launch. This will educate drone operators on whether they need a Remote Pilot certificate or not.
For the legislative cycle that ended September 15, 2017, there was one additional drone-related bill passed by the legislature. AB 527 (Caballero) will make modest revisions to existing law regarding licensure requirements for those who operate pest control aircraft. If Governor Brown signs AB 527 by October 15, any person operating an unmanned aircraft for pest control will need to be certified to do so by the California Department of Health. It will require additional training and expertise than is currently mandated.
If you are using a drone for pleasure or business-related activities, make sure you follow all UAS requirements to avoid fines and penalties that can add up to more than the cost of the new toy.