By Susan Koeppen


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – David Beaudin has been inspecting homes and buildings with his lightweight drone for more than a year.

It helps him get a great view of rooftops he might not otherwise have. But the FAA recently grounded his craft because businesses can’t fly them without a special exemption.

“Many of them think as long as they’re not charging you for actually using the drone that they’re allowed to do it without proper authorization from the FAA, but that’s not the case,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “If someone’s going to use one on your property, be sure to ask for their authorization and exemption from the FAA.”

“I want to find out what it’s going to take to operate legally,” said home and Building inspector David Beaudin. “I don’t want to operate outside of the law. I want to be 100 percent good, and be able to sleep at night and not worry about odd letters coming to me out of the blue.”

Beaudin plans to file for his exemption, but the approval process could take up to four months.

“I think their ‘one size fits all’ isn’t working and it’s really going to hold back something that could help people,” he said.

Many other inspectors, aerial photographers and real estate agents are using the new technology – some legally, some not. The legal ones are happy to see the FAA cracking down.

“I think the best part about it is that if forces an operator to think through all of the things that they really need to be doing to operate safely,” said Derek Hammer, an aerial photographer.

Safety is the FAA’s only concern, but homeowners should also be concerned about liability in case the drone crashes through a window – or worse yet, falls on a person.

“I think there’s some notion among some folks that just because it’s an unmanned system that there’s no danger involved and that, because I’m not a pilot that’s flying in my aircraft, I can’t be hurt, and quite to the contrary,” said Hammer.

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