FAA Drone Initiative Update

Published May 20, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration recently said it would be working closely with industry partners on three key areas of drone use. The announcement came after the FAA received feedback to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rule it published in February, which applied limitations to how drones could be operated in certain areas.


Specifically, the FAA will be focusing on:

  • Visual line-of-sight operations in urban areas. CNN will look at how UAS might be safely used for newsgathering in populated areas.
  • Extended visual line-of-sight operations in rural areas. This concept involves UAS flights outside the pilot’s direct vision. UAS manufacturer PrecisionHawk will explore how this might allow greater UAS use for crop monitoring in precision agriculture operations.
  • Beyond visual line-of-sight in rural/isolated areas. BNSF Railroad will explore command-and-control challenges of using UAS to inspect rail system infrastructure.


In response, National Association of REALTORS® President Chris Polychron released a brief statement of support.


“Realtors® believe that images gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can enhance the experience of buying and selling real estate. The FAA’s intention to study the safety of UAV flights that go beyond the line of sight of the operator could lead to important benefits in the real estate industry, particularly for agents who wish to market rural and large commercial properties. NAR continues to advocate for federal regulations that allow for the real estate industry’s safe commercial use of UAV technology while also protecting privacy rights.”