Unmanned aircraft systems, drones, quadcopters, rc helicopters, UAV’s, whatever you want to call them, they are making surge in the US, especially in the last couple years. So much so that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state agencies has been playing catchup to provide regulations and rules to govern the use of these vehicles. Just another example of the government’s lack of ability to keep up with technology.
What makes this a bit concerning isn’t the government’s failure to keep up with the times but its obvious need to tax it. That means fees for classes, licenses and the right to your piece of the airspace. The federal government is in the process of, as we speak, developing the regulations to be placed on small businesses.
Current Regulations in Laymen’s Terms:
Specifically for small UAS drone aircraft.
- Must be under 55lbs
- Must fly under 400ft
- Must fly in line of sight
- Cannot fly near airports or stadiums
- Cannot make money off your footage or images
Excerpt from NC Senate Bill 744 – scroll down
A great source for current regulations:
With the proliferation of UAS or drones, there will be a definite increase in the amount hitting the skies. I know this because I own one of the most popular out there, Dji Phantom 2 with H4-3D gimbal for a GoPro. This thing is amazing and the quality of video was enough for me to add it to my arsenal…right before my trip to Alaska last summer. It was delivered the day before we were to leave and added that joker to the list of bags to bring. I made sure I bought the custom hard case from HPRC and strap to keep everything intact. We made it fine and it did to. The day after we arrived I finally had time to practice flying, granted in Fairbanks Alaska. Below is my first flight.
Obviously there is a learning curve that I took for granted. And the fun doesn’t end there. While flying downtown Fairbanks and under pressure to perform, I ran into another tree next to the Chena River and shot the copter straight into a parked car and smashed the windshield. CRAZY! After about 15 min of devising a plan to inform the owner of my failure in flight, she arrived back to her car. Her first thoughts about us approaching her was that she was in trouble for parking illegally…nope I smashed your windshield (I should have use the illegal parking job in mt defense…). After months of back and forth I am a proud new owner of a 2009 VW Jetta windshield. Proof below.
Please check out my Alaska images in my portfolio. At least all was not lost. Long story short, drone photography can be dangerous and the pilot needs hours of practice to be comfortable behind the controls.
REGULATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS
SECTION 34.30.(a) Chapter 15A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a
new Article to read:
“Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“§ 15A-300.1. Restrictions on use of unmanned aircraft systems.
- (a) Definitions. – The following definitions apply to this Article:
- (1) Manned aircraft. – An aircraft, as defined in G.S. 63-1, that is operated with a person in or on the aircraft.
- (2) Model aircraft. – An aircraft, as defined in G.S. 63-1, that is mechanically driven or launched into flight and that meets all of the following requirements:
- Is flown solely for hobby or recreational purposes.
- Is not used for payment, consideration, gratuity, or benefit, directly or indirectly charged, demanded, received, or collected, by any person for the use of the aircraft or anyphotographic or video image produced by the aircraft.
- (3) Unmanned aircraft. – An aircraft, as defined in G.S. 63-1, that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraftand that does not meet the definition of model aircraft.
- (4) Unmanned aircraft system. – An unmanned aircraft and associated elements,including communication links and components that control the unmanned aircraft that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.
- (b) General Prohibitions. – Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person,
entity, or State agency shall use an unmanned aircraft system to do any of the following:
- (1) Conduct surveillance of:
- A person or a dwelling occupied by a person and that dwelling’scurtilage without the person’s consent.
- Private real property without the consent of the owner, easementholder, or lessee of the property.
- (2) Photograph an individual, without the individual’s consent, for the purposeof publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating the photograph. This subdivision shall not apply to newsgathering, newsworthy events, or events or places to which the general public is invited.
(c) Law Enforcement Exceptions. – Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the use of unmanned aircraft systems by law enforcement agencies of the State or a political subdivision of the State is not prohibited in the following instances:
(1) To counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security or the
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Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety determines that
credible intelligence indicates that such a risk exists.
- (2) To conduct surveillance in an area that is within a law enforcement officer’splain view when the officer is in a location the officer has a legal right to be.
- (3) If the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant authorizing theuse of an unmanned aircraft system.
- (4) If the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, underparticular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, to conduct pursuit of an escapee or suspect, or to facilitate the search for a missing person.
- (5) To photograph gatherings to which the general public is invited on public or private land.
(d) Limitations on Use of Special Imaging Technology. – Commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems may be equipped with infrared or other thermal imaging technology subject to the provisions of this subsection. Infrared or other similar thermal imaging technology equipment shall be for the sole purpose of scientific investigation; scientific research; mapping and evaluating the earth’s surface, including terrain and surface water bodies and other features; investigation or evaluation of crops, livestock, or farming operations; investigation of forests and forest management; and other similar investigations of vegetation or wildlife.
(e) Any person who is the subject of unwarranted surveillance, or whose photograph is taken in violation of the provisions of this section, shall have a civil cause of action against the person, entity, or State agency that conducts the surveillance or that uses an unmanned aircraft system to photograph for the purpose of publishing or otherwise disseminating the photograph. In lieu of actual damages, the person whose photograph is taken may elect to recover five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each photograph or video that is published or otherwise disseminated, as well as reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees and injunctive or other relief as determined by the court.
(f) Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this section is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this State except when obtained or collected under the objectively reasonable, good-faith belief that the actions were lawful.
“§ 15A-300.2. Regulation of launch and recovery sites.
(a) No unmanned aircraft system may be launched or recovered from any State or private property without consent.
(b) A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to regulate the use of the local government’s property for the launch or recovery of unmanned aircraft systems.”
SECTION 34.30.(b) Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a
new Article to read:
“Crimes by Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“§ 14-7.45. Crimes committed by use of unmanned aircraft systems.
All crimes committed by use of an unmanned aircraft system, as defined in G.S. 15A-300.1,
while in flight over this State shall be governed by the laws of this State, and the question of whether the conduct by an unmanned aircraft system while in flight over this State constitutes a crime by the owner of the unmanned aircraft system shall be determined by the laws of this State.”
SECTION 34.30.(c) Article 36 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
“§ 14-280.3. Interference with manned aircraft by unmanned aircraft systems.
(a) Any person who willfully damages, disrupts the operation of, or otherwise interferes with a manned aircraft through use of an unmanned aircraft system, while the manned aircraft
is taking off, landing, in flight, or otherwise in motion, is guilty of a Class H felony. (b) The following definitions apply to this section:
(1) Manned aircraft. – As defined in G.S. 15A-300.1.
(2) Unmanned aircraft system. – As defined in G.S. 15A-300.1.”
SECTION 34.30.(d) Article 52 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended
by adding a new section to read:
“§ 14-401.24. Unlawful possession and use of unmanned aircraft systems.
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(a) It shall be a Class E felony for any person to possess or use an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that has a weapon attached.
(b) It shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to fish or to hunt using an unmanned aircraft system.
(c) The following definitions apply to this section:
(1) To fish. – As defined in G.S. 113-130.
(2) To hunt. – As defined in G.S. 113-130.
(3) Unmanned aircraft. – As defined in G.S. 15A-300.1.
(4) Unmanned aircraft system. – As defined in G.S. 15A-300.1.
(5) Weapon. – Those weapons specified in G.S. 14-269, 14-269.2, 14-284.1, or
14-288.8 and any other object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or
death when used as a weapon.
(d) This section shall not prohibit possession or usage of an unmanned aircraft or
unmanned aircraft system that is authorized by federal law or regulation.”
SECTION 34.30.(e) Article 52 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended
by adding a new section to read:
“§ 14-401.25. Unlawful distribution of images.
It shall be a Class A1 misdemeanor to publish or disseminate, for any purpose, recorded images taken by a person or non-law enforcement entity through the use of infrared or other similar thermal imaging technology attached to an unmanned aircraft system, as defined in G.S. 15A-300.1, and revealing individuals, materials, or activities inside of a structure without the consent of the property owner.”
SECTION 34.30.(f) G.S. 113-295 reads as rewritten:
“§ 113-295. Unlawful harassment of persons taking wildlife resources.
(a) It is unlawful for a person to interfere intentionally with the lawful taking of wildlife resources or to drive, harass, or intentionally disturb any wildlife resources for the purpose of disrupting the lawful taking of wildlife resources. It is unlawful to take or abuse property, equipment, or hunting dogs that are being used for the lawful taking of wildlife resources. This subsection does not apply to a person who incidentally interferes with the taking of wildlife resources while using the land for other lawful activity such as agriculture, mining, or recreation. This subsection also does not apply to activity by a person on land he owns or leases.
Violation of this subsection is a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first conviction and a Class 1 misdemeanor for a second or subsequent conviction.
(a1) It is unlawful to use an unmanned aircraft system, as defined in G.S. 15A-300.1, to violate subsection (a) of this section. Violation of this subsection is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) The Wildlife Resources Commission may, either before or after the institution of any other action or proceeding authorized by this section, institute a civil action for injunctive relief to restrain a violation or threatened violation of subsection (a) of this section pursuant to G.S. 113-131. The action shall be brought in the superior court of the county in which the violation or threatened violation is occurring or about to occur and shall be in the name of the State upon the relation of the Wildlife Resources Commission. The court, in issuing any final order in any action brought pursuant to this subsection may, in its discretion, award costs of litigation including reasonable attorney and expert-witness fees to any party.”
SECTION 34.30.(g) Chapter 63 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a
new Article to read:
“Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“§ 63-95. Training required for operation of unmanned aircraft systems.
(a) As used in this Article, the term “Division” means the Division of Aviation of the
Department of Transportation.
(b) The Division shall develop a knowledge and skills test for operating an unmanned
aircraft system that complies with all applicable State and federal regulations and shall provide for administration of the test. The Division may permit a person, including an agency of this State, an agency of a political subdivision of this State, an employer, or a private training facility, to administer the test developed pursuant to this subsection, provided the test is the same as that administered by the Division and complies with all applicable State and federal regulations.
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(c) No agent or agency of the State, or agent or agency of a political subdivision of the State, may operate an unmanned aircraft system within the State without completion of the test set forth in subsection (b) of this section.
“§ 63-96. License required for commercial operation of unmanned aircraft systems.
(a) No person shall operate an unmanned aircraft system, as defined in G.S. 15A-300.1, in this State for commercial purposes unless the person is in possession of a license issued by the Division valid for the unmanned aircraft system being operated. Application for such license shall be made in the manner provided by the Division. Unless suspended or revoked, the license shall be effective for a period to be established by the Division not exceeding eight years.
person shall be issued a license under this section unless all of the following
- (1) The person is at least 18 years of age.
- (2) The person possesses a valid drivers license issued by any state or territoryof the United States or the District of Columbia.
- (3) The person has passed the knowledge and skills test for operating anunmanned aircraft system as prescribed in G.S. 63-95(b).
- (4) The person has satisfied all other applicable requirements of this Article orfederal regulation.
(c) A license to operate an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes shall not
be issued to a person while the person’s license to operate an unmanned aircraft system is suspended, revoked, or cancelled in any state.
(d) The Division shall develop and administer a program to license operators of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes. The program must include the following components:
- (1) A system for classifying unmanned aircraft systems based on characteristics determined to be appropriate by the Division.
- (2) A fee structure for licenses.
- (3) A license application process.
- (4) Technical guidance for complying with program requirements.
- (5) Criteria under which the Division may suspend or revoke a license.
- (6) Criteria under which the Division may waive licensure requirements forapplicants currently holding a valid license to operate unmanned aircraft systems issued by another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the United States.
- (7) A designation of the geographic area within which a licensee shall be authorized to operate an unmanned aircraft system.
- (8) Requirements pertaining to the collection, use, and retention of data by licensees obtained through the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, to be established in consultation with the State Chief Information Officer.
- (9) Requirements for the marking of each unmanned aircraft system operated pursuant to a license issued under this section sufficient to permit identification of the owner of the system and the person licensed to operate it.
- (10) A system for providing agencies that conduct other operations within regulated airspace with the identity and contact information of licensees and the geographic areas within which the licensee is permitted to operate an unmanned aircraft system.
(e) A person who operates an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes other than as permitted under this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(f) The Division may issue rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this
SECTION 34.30.(h) The Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation
shall develop and implement the knowledge and skills test required by G.S. 63-95, as enacted in subsection (g) of this section, no later than May 31, 2015, and shall report to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee on the status of implementation by June 15, 2015.
SECTION 34.30.(i) The Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation shall immediately begin developing the licensing system for commercial operation required by
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G.S. 63-96, as enacted in subsection (g) of this section, and shall ensure that the system complies with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines on commercial operation, as those guidelines become available. Within 60 days of issuance of the FAA guidelines and authorization by the FAA for commercial operations to begin, the Division shall implement the licensing system required by G.S. 63-96, as enacted in subsection (g) of this section.
SECTION 34.30.(j) No operation of unmanned aircraft systems by agents or agencies of the State, or agents or agencies of a political subdivision of the State, shall be authorized in this State until the knowledge and skills test required by G.S. 63-95, as enacted in subsection (g) of this section, has been implemented.
No operation of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes shall be authorized in this State until the FAA has authorized commercial operations and the licensing system required by G.S. 63-96, as enacted in subsection (g) of this section, has been implemented.
SECTION 34.30.(k) The Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation shall use funds appropriated in this act to the Division to cover the administration costs incurred from developing and implementing the knowledge and skills test and licensing system for commercial operation required by this section.
SECTION 34.30.(l) Subsection (a) of this section becomes effective October 1, 2014, and applies to acts occurring on or after that date. Subsections (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) of this section become effective December 1, 2014, and apply to offenses committed on or after that date. The remainder of this section is effective when it becomes law.
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