Drone Regulations And The Future of SUAS Flight

Hi, guys, this is Giovanni from Geek Beat. We're at CEDIA right now. We're gonna talk to an expert who used to work for the FAA, who now deals with folks trying to get certifications, exemptions, things like that, to fly drones. And we're gonna ask her what she really thinks about all us yahoos that are flying out there without licenses. Welcome to Geek Beat.


Hi, guys, I'm here with Christina from UASolutions Group, and she's got a great background for folks like me who have no business flying drones, but who do it anyway. We want to talk a little bit about what someone like me can expect. So my background is I've been shooting video for years. Drones came on the market. Super big eye candy for me. Great way to get video. I read the different articles that tell me best practices, what I should do, what I shouldn't do. I've got apps on my phone that tell me where the no-fly zones are. So I make sure that I don't do anything that's inappropriate in that situation. However, I still know that I'm doing it illegally, on some level. I mean, we try to... I'm giving away too much on the episode, but I will never charge a client for the video that I publish, or that I create, but sometimes if they find it on Vimeo and they wanna use it, so be it, let them use it, whatever.


So there's a lot of ways that we're skirting what we think are regulations, but we're not sure. We think they're laws, but they're either not enforced equally, or we get conflicting messages from the FAA. So help me out a little bit. I know that the perfect solution is for me to ground the drone and wait for a couple of years 'til the FAA tells me what I'm able to do. But obviously, that's not happening. So kind of give me some guidance as a yahoo, a consumer that has one of these things in their hands. What would your best advice be to somebody? What can I expect in the next 12, 24 months from the FAA, as far as when they're gonna have something out, and what I'm gonna have to do to actually be certified to be able to fly my drone? 


Holy cow. Those are a lot of questions. First, I'd like to thank...


I will repeat all of them.


Thank you. Giovanni, thank you and Geek Beat for having me on today. I really appreciate it. And first, you're not a yahoo. First I really wanna commend you for reaching out and embracing this technology, taking something that you've had a passion for, which is photography and videography, and you just see this as another tool in your toolbox. And that's what it is. It is this other tool in your toolbox to use, and we wanna use that, and we want people like you to use them. The thing is, you need to use them correctly, and not skirt the rules and regulations. So there are two classes of people. Either you're a hobby and recreation, or you're not. So when you fly, and you give your video to somebody, if that's in furtherance of your business at all, if it helps your business, if it promotes your business, even if you don't get paid, it is not hobby and recreation, and it's considered commercial.


What I meant was that I never did that before.



You meant that you were thinking about it, right? 




And you had a friend...


I had a friend, I had a friend that did that once.



Friend, right? That's where Stampede is seen with UASolutions Group, because we help you bridge that gap. And we let you know, "Hey, we understand that the rules are confusing, and we understand that the FAA hasn't always been exacting in the way that they explain what you can and cannot do." The pan... There's a company called, and I apologize anyway, but they just received a $1.9 million fine. And so when we look at that, the FAA went back two years and gathered all of that data, even though they do have an exemption today. The FAA went prior to that, and they looked at two years back, and they went after them. There was a $1.9 million fine. And I would assume that the majority of us don't have that kind of money laying around for a large fine.


Well, most of y'all don't.



Most of us, right? And I tell people, "You can either get a $2,500 exemption, or a $3,000 exemption through Stampede, and through UASolutions Group, what we offer. Or you can risk that $50,000 fine." And even though you say, "Oh, I'm waiting for the regulations to come out, and in the meantime, I'm gonna skirt the regulations. Or in the meantime I'm gonna stay on the down low." We're finding out today that the FAA is going after, is going after you. And they're backlogged in that office right now, they're being very methodical and careful in how they go after these people. But they are definitely going after them. So we do not recommend that. We have not recommended that practice for a long time.


Yeah, certainly, I think that nobody would recommend that... From the consumer standpoint, I think part of the challenge is, is that, and of course, all this is from third party. You read about things that have happened. And some of the challenge is that you get conflicting messages from different representatives at the FAA. Some will say, "Yes, we're gonna issue you a notice that you should stop flying." There was one in Houston that actually came back and said, "Well, we issued the notice, but there's no force behind it. We can't do anything about it."


And I remember... That was probably about two years ago. That came out, there was some conflict there. And even to the point now to where there's some confusion, and as much as I pay addition to the news, there's still confusion about whether or not there is a law on the books today that allows the FAA even to issue the $1.9 million fine. Now, they can issue the fine, whether or not that gets held up in court, we'll find out. 'Cause certainly we're not just gonna write a check and be done with it. So I think that's part of the confusion, and the fact that the industry is so far ahead of the FAA now.


The next question is, is that, "How difficult will it be?" And let's say you've got someone who is well-meaning, who is fairly intelligent, who wants to be able to fly these safely. Am I gonna have to get a pilot's license and spend tens of thousands of dollars and hours in the air? 'Cause like in Australia, I understand that you have to have a commercial pilot's license to fly drones. So get your feeling from what the FAA is doing, what kind of level of expertise and training do you think is gonna be required for me to go out and fly around a home for a real estate agency and collect 250 bucks for that.


Yes. So that is actually a really good question. The reason that you currently have to have...


I'm glad you have all the answers.



I did not have all the answers. Wait, I wanna start with one thing. Hey, everybody, stop reading the blogs, just stop. Just stop reading all those blogs.


But it's on the internet.


I know it's on the internet. It must be true, right? [chuckle] So stop reading the blogs, talk to the experts, and one of the things we tell everybody is that, what we say today, because it's what the FAA is doing, might not be what the FAA says tomorrow. We have seen the FAA change quickly and they are adapting. Where originally the exemptions came out, you needed a commercial pilot's license and then you needed a private. And we're all going down to sport recreation, those type of licenses. So one day I say, "You need a commercial license," and then the next day the FAA comes out and says pilot license. So that's why these blogs are so confusing. If people aren't embedded with the FAA and they don't have that insider knowledge and those people to contact, you're not gonna know what's happening. And one thing UASolutions prides themselves on is, if we don't know the answer, we're gonna tell you. We don't know the answer, but we know who to call, we know exactly who to call.


And I would assume that a lot of folk at the FAA don't have the answers yet. They're just figuring it out.


You're right. There are so many times that we've called the FAA and they said, "Oh, we've never thought about, or we don't know the answer to that, or oh, my gosh, we don't know the answer." So then we just get back to our clients and we say the FAA is looking into it because this is new technology, this is new ground for them also. And everybody is so upset with the FAA, but you gotta remember, this is new to them also and they're trying to figure this out as best as they can and give best practices for industry, so that we have many. But I know that the pilot's license is a big concern. The rule, the law right now says, "In order for you to fly an aircraft, which drones are aircraft, in order for you to fly aircraft in the national airspace, you have to be a rated aviator, you to have an airman's certificate.


So is national airspace, six inches off the ground? Is it 100 feet? 


From the tip of it... From the tip of a blade of grass, it is from the surface up so long as you're outside. If you're inside it's not the FAA.


So not to to get anyone in trouble, you're not associated with them, but if I go to CES and company X within a confined area inside, has got a salesperson flying a drone for demo purposes, am I to assume that that person has an exemption to fly that thing? Because it's for commercial. They're showing products to sell, so is it my assumption that that person has got a certification or an exemption? 


No, because they're inside.




Yes. So here's what's funny. If you're...


So if I'm flying inside the Cowboy Stadium.


I'm just gonna say, if you're inside of a stadium and the dome is closed, you're okay. As soon as they open up that dome, you're no longer okay. That's when you have to have an exemption.


That is interesting and ridiculous.



It's because of the laws haven't caught up to industry yet. This is so new and it takes a long time to get a law on the books.


What if we build a drone that has a canopy over it? 



You know, I've heard a lot and that's the first one I've heard, right? 


If it's the roof, if I just build a canopy over the drone, we can work on that. It can be a project for John. Thank you very much for chatting with us.


You're welcome. You're welcome. If you have any more questions, let us know.


Absolutely. This has been Giovanni with Geek Beat and this is Christina, I remember without looking at your name tag. Christina, y'all are at UAS Solutions group. Is it UAS Solutions group? 






So visit Stampede first.


Okay, Stampede first and then go straight over to your website. Do they need to look at anything at Stampede? 


Yeah, they need to look at drones.


Okay, purchase a drone, then go to their website. This has been Geek Beat. Thank you, guys.