YOU SAID IT: Drones Dandy, but Regulation a Must
It would be premature for the FAA to crack down on drone use in commercial real estate, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t regulate them, according to our recent national reader poll. (If the sky is filled with drones, how will any of us get a tan?) Almost 700 readers responded, and 64% said the FAA should not put the kibosh on the remote-controlled aircraft in CRE, citing them as invaluable marketing and asset management tools. KumbaCam, which was at the BOMA conference discussing its video and photography kit for drones, tells us property management applications include before/after shots of construction, landscaping, and roofing projects; checking leaks and shingles; diagnosing disaster damage; aerial photos and videos for promotions; property perimeter checks; power/pipeline control; and more.
But they aren’t without risks. Readers mention privacy concerns, potential collisions with commercial planes, terrorism, and lack of certification and registration for operators. DC-based Transwestern EVP Pete Marcin, above, has two drones (one’s a backup) that enable him to get property views unachievable only a year or two ago. While the FAA has taken the position that drone use for commercial purposes is restricted, a recent NTSB court decision calls these restrictions into question, says Pete (who's also an attorney). The future lies in whether the FAA can develop (and Congress can pass) more concrete rules for commercial drone use. If all goes well, Pete expects them to be widespread in a couple years but reminds operators you'll probably crash your first before becoming a savvy pilot. (His first is at the bottom of the Patapsco River.)