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05 July 2022

FAA is fining Realtors $11,000 who hire unlicensed drone pilots.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is cracking down on unlicensed drone pilots. These pilots are not only endangering commercial and private airplanes, they are also putting everyday people at risk. If you’re a realtor, you need to be aware of this issue and how it may affect your business in the future. Unlicensed drone pilots can endanger any user of the airspace who happens to be nearby when an unmanned aircraft system is operated in that airspace without the appropriate authorization from the FAA. If you work as a Realtor, you should know about this problem too, so read on for more details about what it means for your business as well as some precautions to take immediately.

What is an Unlicensed Drone Pilot?

An unlicensed drone pilot is someone who uses an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) without the required authorization from the FAA. This includes recreational drones flown in visual-line-of-sight, commercial drones operated for a business, and any other use of a UAS. The following are some tips for Realtors on how to prevent becoming an unlicensed drone pilot:

1) Consult with your agent about your liability if you accidentally launched your drone without proper authorization from the FAA.

2) Ensure that you have all the necessary permissions before operating your drone near airports or at high altitudes where aircraft operate regularly

3) Contact your agent immediately if you see another company operating a UAS near you or nearby because they may not have permission to do so either

Why Is the FAA Targeting Unlicensed Drone Pilots?

The FAA has been cracking down on unlicensed drone pilots because they can endanger themselves as well as others in the airspace. Unlicensed drone pilots are not only endangering commercial and private airplanes, they are also putting everyday people at risk. If a licensed drone pilot and an unlicensed pilot happen to be flying near each other, it could lead to a dangerous situation for both of them. However, before the FAA began targeting unlicensed drone pilots, there was no way to detect their presence in the sky. This meant that there was no way to monitor them or issue warnings to anyone nearby. For example, if an unmanned aircraft were moving through an area where people were gathering or living, such as a stadium or national park, the FAA couldn’t do anything about it.

Prohibited Flying Activities

The FAA prohibits flying activities in a national airspace unless the person involved has an airman certificate or operating authority. This means that if you are a pilot, you should not fly a drone in any national airspace at any time. The only exception to this rule is when you receive permission from the FAA to fly in the national airspace of a foreign country. If you are not flying in the national airspace of any foreign country, then you should be paying attention to what your state and local laws say about flying drones. You should also be aware of these other prohibited activities: -Flying unmanned aircraft over large crowds that gather for public events. -Flying unmanned aircraft over emergency response operations that involve law enforcement personnel, fire fighting operations, or emergency medical services personnel. -Flying unmanned aircraft over nonparticipating persons who are engaged in specific hazardous activities such as mining, construction and farming.

What Happens if You Hire an Unlicensed Drone Pilot?

If you're a realtor who hires an unlicensed drone pilot, you could be fined up to $11,000. Here are some other consequences of hiring an unlicensed drone pilot:

You could be fined up to $11,000 and fined up to $250,000 if it's determined that the operation took place willfully.

You could lose your realtor license.

Your business could be contacted by FAA enforcement officials Unsanctioned operations can only take place within line-of-sight of the pilot and cannot include flying over populated areas or large gatherings of people.

Can You Legally Work with Licensed Drone Pilots?

Yes, you can hire a licensed drone pilot to take aerial images or video for your real estate marketing. The pilot has to be in possession of an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate. They have to operate the aircraft within the limitations of their certificate and must only conduct operation at altitudes within 400 feet AGL, or below 400 feet MSL. Furthermore, there are some precautions that you should take as a Realtor with regards to hiring a qualified drone operator.

1) Make sure that the person you’re hiring is properly licensed. Check out the individual's remote pilot certificate before any work begins so you know for sure that this person has permission from the FAA to fly remotely and within those restrictions.

2) Make sure the drone operator is going to be able to provide proof of insurance before they begin any work. You don't want them flying without liability insurance because then it could be possible that they would need to file a claim against your company if anything were to happen on their end during the flight.

3) If using drones in a commercial setting, make sure they are registered with the FAA as part of their employer certification process.

4) Avoid doing work with drones when it obstructs other people's access or visibility into public space (like property lines). This can start causing tension and potentially lead to legal issues down the road if something goes wrong during your flight and someone is injured or property damaged because of your activity.


Unlicensed drone pilots pose a risk to the public and to private property, including the airspace. The FAA is using the recently passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to fine those who hire an unlicensed drone pilot. Even though drone pilots are not required, it is encouraged for all drone pilots to be properly licensed by the FAA.