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PPA Today: Drones Archives

Recently in Drones Category

You never know what you'll find out about on theLoop, PPA's members-only social network. Recently, member David Bailey, M.Photog., CPP,  of Colorado Springs, shared info we figured deserved another push. ..and a big THANK YOU!

InterDrone, the biggest Drone Conference and Expo in the country is coming to Las Vegas, September 6-8, 2017! We know from the response to our Drone Zone at Imaging USA last year that drones are currently the hottest addition to a successful photography business. Now you can experience a conference devoted to all things drone...certainly some inspiration you may want to pick up if you're considering becoming a PPA Certified Drone Photographer....which David Bailey also just did!

InterDrone will feature information for builders, buyers, and flyers of commercial drones, technical classes, an expo hall with the "Yes-Fly Zone" drone demo area, expert speakers, and other special events.  InterDrone's expo will feature more than 185 unmanned system manufacturers and sellers. The full commercial drone conference features more than 120 panels, sessions, classes and drone workshops. Justin Moore, PPA's first Drone Certified Photographer, is also a speaker at InterDrone!

If you register by Aug. 25th, there is a discount available. David asked for and received another 15% discount for PPA members, so just use the discount code PHOTO when you register! Visit for more information. 

by Sidra Safri
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We all know that there are certain things you can and cannot do with your drone. You can fly a drone for commercial purposes once you have passed your Section 107 drone certification exam. You cannot fly your drone over large groups of people. Pretty much ever. 

To make these dos-and-don'ts (and life as a drone photographer) a little easier, the FAA introduced waivers. FAA Certified drone photographers can apply for a waiver that allows them to fly over people, fly during a moving vehicle, fly at night etc....whatever the case may be. 
We have all heard about these waivers, but still very little has come out on how to apply for them. 

Well, guess what? PPA has a "How to Apply for a Drone Waiver" guide just for you. This new resource walks you through what information you need to provide, how detailed you should be, and what the FAA is looking for when processing your waiver. Check out this cool new resource here!

For more information about drones or to get details on PPA's new Certified Drone Photographer program, head over to

by Sidra Safri
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Every so often you will hear about a drone that got too close to an airplane or a drone that was being flown in an area it shouldn't have. As more people purchase drones for commercial or personal use, these close calls are happening more than ever before and are getting more and more risky.  The FAA reported 1,274 close calls in 2016 alone, and are expecting that number to double for 2017. 

The most recent close call reported by U.S. media outlets took place on July 31st, 2017, when a drone was seen by an airplane preparing for landing in what was stated as "in the vicinity of the runway"! That is way too close for comfort!

Constant violations of drone regulations are forcing the FAA to crack down on violators. Most recently, the FAA arrested a man from Arizona for endangerment and unlawful operation of a drone during a massive wildfire near Phoenix. Besides the possible criminal charges, the fines can get quite pricey. In 2016, the FAA fined one company $1.9 million! 

As a rule of thumb:

  1. Always check the B4U fly app to ensure there are not limitations to flights in your location. 
  2. Stay of the airplane's way!...Keep in mind planes are much larger and faster than drones and are carrying fellow humans. One wrong move from a drone and it can put many people's lives in danger. 
  3. Always fly below 400ft!
As always, check for all the latest drone news and best practices. 

By Bethany Clark

Calling all drone photographers! If you are a PPA member that wants to expand your business by incorporating professional drone photography into your product offerings, consider becoming a Certified Drone Photographer!

The Certified Drone Photographer designation is the official credential for photographers that want to set themselves apart within the drone photography industry. It assures potential clients of a photographer's knowledge, experience, competence, and ability, as well as a compliance with all legal and safety considerations pursuant to operating drone equipment. 

Basically, it assures that not only can you fly a drone legally and knowledgeably, but you can also capture excellent photographs while doing it!

Photographers who earn their Certified Drone Photographer credential do so to demonstrate their expertise in flying drones and taking photographs from drones, gain an edge in advertising their services, and further justify the price of their services.

To qualify for the certification, you have to be a PPA member and have the following: 

  • FAA Section 333 Certificate OR Remote Pilot Certificate (Part 107)
  • Proof of General Liability Insurance
  • UAS Registration Number
  • Logbook summarizing 30 hours of Flight Time

After that, you simply have to apply for the exam! Once you pass, you will have earned your Certified Drone Photographer designation. For more information or to get started on your path to drone photography certification, head to!

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On May 19th the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that hobbyists using drones are not required to register their drone or pay the $5 registration fee. It is important to remember if you are using your drone for commercial purposes then you MUST still register your drone. 

The FAA defines recreational/hobby use of a drone as "the flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire". The FAA also relied on the dictionary definition to say that a "hobby" is a "pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation or refreshment of strength and spirits after work".

As a hobbyist there are still guidelines in place that you must follow:

  1. Fly at or below 400 feet.
  2. Be aware of airspace requirements and restrictions (YES!! These still apply;, check the B4U fly app before any flight).
  3. Stay away from obstacles.
  4. Keep your drone in sight at all times.
  5. Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports.
  6. Never fly over groups of people.
  7. Never fly over stadiums or sporting events. 
  8. Never fly near emergency response efforts, such as fires. 
  9. Never fly under the influence of drugs or/and alcohol.
As professional photographers who receives some sort of payment or compensation for their work, you must register with the FAA and pass the Section 107 test to legally operate and charge for your drone photography!

As always, find out everything you need to know about flying your drone safely and legally at

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It's been a year since the introduction of the Section 107 drone regulations and many photographers are still extremely excited as more and more of them look to incorporate drones into their businesses. 

Over the past couple of months, PPA has featured break-downs of these Section 107 exemption waivers, providing you with examples as to when you can apply for them and what sort of information to provide to ensure your wavier is processed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Here is a summary of the waiver-types and how to apply for them!

You can count on PPA to deliver you all the latest news, helpful tips and even certification for Drone Photography at!


By Trent Schick

Have you been using drones in your business but want to take things further and set yourself apart from the competition? Well PPA has recently launched the Certified Drone Photographer program! 

This unique program ensures that you are not only legal to fly drones, but also equipped with the education to take the best pictures using drones. Before you jump in, there are just a few things you need to know.

To be eligible for the program, you must meet certain requirements:  

  • PPA membership
  • An FAA Section 333 Certificate OR Remote Pilot Certificate (Part 107)
  • Proof of General Liability Insurance
  • UAS Registration Number
  • Logbook summarizing 30 hours of Flight Time

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for the program, which includes a $75 fee. After your application is successfully processed, you will be able to schedule your Certified Drone Photographer exam, the final step in your certification. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, costs $25, and you must score an 80% or higher to receive your certification.

The Certification is valid for two years, after which time you will need to recertify. Recertification can be completed by uploading your new FAA score or updated remote-pilot certificate.

Get more information on Drone Photographer Certification and access to the application, so you can learn to not only be 'Bona Fide' but 'Certified'!


by Sidra Safri
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During the past several weeks you've learned about various waivers you can apply for under the Section 107 drone regulations. Of these various waivers, the one PPA gets the most questions about is the ability to fly over people. As drones become more popular, many of you want to incorporate drones into your wedding, real-estate, and event packages. This makes many clients excited and also helps them add a WOW factor to their photos. However, before a drone photographer can LEGALLY fly a drone over people, they MUST obtain a Section 107.39 Waiver. 

Before we get into how to successfully obtain a wavier to fly over people, you should know that obtaining this waiver is extremely difficult. In the past year that the FAA has been granting waivers, only three entities have been allowed to fly drones over people, one of them being CNN. However, if you are willing to show the FAA you are prepared for anything, the chances for your success will drastically increase. With that in mind, here is what the FAA is looking for when determining to grant a 107.39 waiver:

  1. Start early. Most waivers are being granted in about 120 days. However, this waiver is averaging about a six-month response time. Make sure you start early enough to get your waiver approved in time.
  2. Contact the FAA regional Director directly. This helps in giving you specific tips on what exactly they are looking for in order to grant the waiver. This also shows that you are being proactive and will do what it takes to get this waiver granted. 
  3. When you apply for your waiver, provide a small time window. The FAA is more likely to approve smaller time windows to ensure the possibility of accidents occurring is limited. The so called "magic number" is six hours or less. 
  4. When you start talking to members of the FAA offer to do a demo. This puts their minds at ease and helps them make sure that the drone operator is flying carefully and masterfully, therefore further avoiding any possible injury to people on the ground. 
  5. Have a medical crew on the ground. Just in case something does go wrong, having a medical crew on sight shows the FAA that you are prepared in case of an emergency. Always better to be over-prepared then under-prepared. 
  6. Last but not least, show the FAA that you will be getting a release to fly over the people, helping you limit your liability. 
Don't forget to fill out your waiver at and always check the B4U fly app before taking off! Happy flying!

By Sidra Safri
As you know, this series on Drone Waivers is meant to provide you with the best information to make sure your waivers get approved.  At the same time, PPA likes to be honest. With that in mind: It is very unlikely you will get a section 107.37a waiver approved.

A section 107.37a waiver is the ability not to yield to other aircraft. Since the regulations went into effect close to one year ago, no Section 107.37a waivers have been approved. The lack of approval makes sense.  A drone under section 107 cannot weigh more than 55 pounds, and must yield to things that are significantly bigger and more powerful than it is, such as private places, commercials, etc. 

If and when a Section 107.37a waiver is approved, PPA will let you know and provide information on how you can get approval.
As always, before you fly, make sure your drone is registered and you are checking the B4U fly app!

by Sidra Safri
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As we make our way through the nine drone waivers available from the FAA, you will see that this fifth one is probably one of the most detailed-oriented waivers we will talk about. The Section 107.35 waiver allows the operation of multiple small unmanned drones. Most of the time this will be used for entertainment companies such as Intel or Disney. However, the most recent usage can be seen during the opening scene of Lady Gaga's Super Bowl performance in 2017.

With so many drones operating in such close proximity, it can be easy to see that one drone malfunctioning can cause a chaotic domino effect. For this reason, obtaining a Section 107.35 waiver can be hard. When applying for this waiver, the FAA wants you to have prepared the following:

  1. You must show that you have detailed knowledge of the layout of the area. This helps in preventing run-ins with taller items such as mountains, trees, buildings etc. 
  2. Ability to communicate with Pilot and Visual Observer in an instantaneous manner. This insures that the moment something goes wrong, or something unforeseen comes in the way, the pilot has enough time to change course or react. 
  3. Show that if one drone malfunctions or crashes, it won't damage the others. 
  4. Your Geo-fencing system works. Geo-fences are virtual geographic boundaries that are put into place to notify the pilot when a drone exits or enters the set area. 
  5. File a Notice to Airmen. In this notice you want to include the altitude at which you will be flying, the locations, and the duration of the flight. You want to make sure this is submitted 72 hours before your flight, but not less than 24 hours before. This lets other pilots know that they are sharing the airspace with a drone. 
  6. Also, in your plans, state and show that the ground speeds of the drones will be no more than 7 mph. 
In order to get a better idea of the required provisions take a look at the Waiver Granted to Disney.

As always, no matter if it's one drone or multiple drones, don't forget to check the FAA's B4U fly app to make sure you are able to fly. 

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Drones category.

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