Tag Archives: FAA

drone

The legality of drones in commercial real estate

Equipped with a high-tech camera that takes photos and shoots aerial footage, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAV) might seem appealing to local real estate companies, but the legality of their use remains up in the air when it comes to commercial realty.

Motorized aircrafts are traditionally used for leisure activities, but UAVs are increasingly taking flight to accelerated heights. Based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, there are many variables to be taken into consideration when using drones for anything other than private purposes.

“The cons are pretty substantial,” says Elisabeth Martini, associate attorney at Resnick and Louis Attorneys at Law. “The biggest one being the concerns for privacy and second, the concerns about safety. Because there is a wide range of the types of drones, the safety mechanisms in them range drastically.”

The privacy of residents in close-knit neighborhoods has become a concern with the UAVs crossing property lines into another backyard. Trespassing, nuisance and spying are all examples of invasion of privacy that leave many residents concerned.

“Compared with the general public, I think the concern with drone use is more along the lines of privacy, rather than safety,” Martini says. “Generally, we’re not really worried that something is going to fall from the sky onto our property and damage it. We are thinking, ‘I don’t want somebody to be able to fly a drone over my property and see into my house.’”

Public entities, such as the government, municipalities, towns and police, can obtain a waiver from the FAA and operate UAVs for approved purposes.

“They can do border patrol sweeps, search over people’s properties for drugs or take a type of census,” says Martini. “Mainly for research, not for prosecution purposes. It is carved out for public entities rather than commercial entities.”

In 2007, the FAA reserved the right to fine, send out warning letters, issue a cease and desist order and verbally warn someone who is using a drone. Martini expresses her concerns on whether the FAA actually has the ability to fine someone for using a drone pertaining to commercial purposes.

Entering a buyer’s market, real estate has been booming, and the use of drones are a catalyst to market property at all angles. From an aerial view, buyers can get a perspective of a building’s surroundings and structure.

“It’s a great marketing tool,” says Court Rich, Senior Partner at Rose Law Group. “Showing different views of the home, land and the context of where it is. You have the opportunity of taking flattering photos or to show context, that Google Earth or walking around the house won’t get you.”

Dave Cheatham, president of Velocity Retail Group and a commercial real estate broker, incorporates the use of drones into his practice by having two drone pilots maneuver the UAVs over commercial properties. Videographers turn the aerial footage into useable marketing for the properties.

“[A drone] gives you context you cannot get from being on the ground,” he says. “You can use photography to get an oblique, angled view, to understand things such as, ingress and egress. You can see access to roads, freeways, and where the residential is. That is a real advantage. The video portion of it, gives you a virtual tour from the air.”

The cutting-edge technology has evolved at a rapid pace that the FAA is striving to develop standards and regulations for quickly. Real estate is booming and so is the use of the advanced UAVs. The National Association of Realtors has advised drones to not be used because the law is in flux, according to Martini.

Recently, Congress instructed the FAA in The Modernization of Reform Act 2012, which exempts model aircrafts, to develop a safety plan and standards in accordance with the national airspace system, according to Martini.

“The FAA has a lot of work to do in the coming months to make sure they are ready to issue these deregulations by the end of the year. There will probably be some growing pains once those come out and people try to figure out what it means to them and how to safely operate the drones for commercial purposes,” Martini said.

low flying aircraft

Caution: Low-Flying Aircraft Policies

Tim Lawless President NAIOP - Arizona

Tim Lawless
President
NAIOP – Arizona


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a significant reduction in the maximum height limit of buildings near U.S. airports to ensure aircraft have clearance to continue an ascent in the unlikely event that an engine fails at takeoff.

The proposed policy would limit building heights of new commercial projects within 10,000 feet of the end of the runway to no more than 160 feet tall. As a result, NAIOP-AZ has submitted a letter to strongly advocate that the FAA retract the proposed One Engine Inoperative (OEI) Procedures in the Obstruction Evaluation Studies published in the Federal Register on April 28.

While NAIOP-AZ fully supports the FAA’s role to oversee aviation safety, it opposes this proposed OEI policy, note that it does not address safety, does not contain adequate justification, penalizes unfairly communities surrounding airports by impeding much needed economic development, and lacks rigorous cost-benefit analyses.

NAIOP-AZ especially has a keen interest around one of the largest airports in the U.S., Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix where a number of its members have existing and planned buildings in multiple communities in relatively close proximity to the airport.

NAIOP-AZ is of the belief that if the policy determination outlined recently in the Federal Register is driven by economic considerations, it will have a chilling effect on developers constructing new facilities and on firms and tenants who may want to own existing facilities for investment purposes should a facility be close to or exceed the lower height requirements.

Should the FAA move forward, any OEI policy should, at a minimum, provide for certainty to developers and communities who engage in long-term planning, take into account the impacts and views of all stakeholders – not just in the aviation community, and be subjected to robust legislative rule-making requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, including a full cost- benefit and Federalism analysis.

Toward this end, NAIOP-AZ support HR 4623, pending in the US House of Representatives, which would mandate that the FAA follow normal rule-making procedures for a policy change of this magnitude that would include such an economic cost-benefit analysis.

The Maricopa County Court Tower in Downtown Phoenix exceeds the OEI criteria by more than 25 feet.

NAIOP Arizona urges FAA to retract proposed OEI procedures

The Arizona Chapter of NAIOP has urged the Federal Aviation Administration to retract the proposed One Engine Inoperative (OEI) Procedures in the Obstruction Evaluation Studies published in the Federal Register on April 28.

“While  NAIOP-AZ fully supports the FAA’s role to oversee aviation safety, we oppose this proposed OEI policy, note that it does not address safety, does not contain adequate justification, penalizes unfairly communities surrounding airports by impeding much needed economic development, and lacks rigorous cost-benefit analyses,” Tim Lawless, President of NAIOP Arizona, said in a letter to John Speckin, Airport Obstruction Standards Committee, Region and Center Operations, Office of Finance and Management in Washington, D.C.

The FAA is considering a substantial reduction in the maximum height limit of buildings near U.S. airports to ensure aircraft have clearance to continue an ascent should an engine fail at takeoff. The proposed policy would limit building heights of new commercial projects within 10,000 feet of the end of the runway to no more than 160 feet tall.

NAIOP Arizona is the largest commercial real estate trade association in the state and one of the 10 largest business trade associations in Metro Phoenix. It also represents the economic interests of those who construct commercial office and industrial buildings and advocates for policies that bring high-wage jobs to Arizona.

“We especially have a keen interest around one of the largest airports in the U.S., Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix where a number of our members have existing and planned buildings in multiple communities in relatively close proximity to the airport,” Lawless said in the letter. “In short, we are of the belief that if the policy determination outlined recently in the Federal Register is driven by economic considerations, we believe the policy will have a chilling effect on developers constructing new facilities and on firms and tenants who may want to own existing facilities for investment purposes should a facility be close to or exceed the lower height requirements.”

An independent study released  last year by New York-based real estate consulting firm Weitzman Group determined that a new FAA policy would impact existing and future developments around  almost 400 private and public airports across the country. About 4,000 proposed projects would be affected, the study said.

NAIOP Arizona’s letter states the proposed OEI policy would have significant impact on Tempe and Phoenix. According to an article on the Phoenix Business Journal’s website, about 60 projects Valley wide would be affected.

>> In Downtown Phoenix, the recently completed, $341 million Maricopa County Court Tower exceeds the OEI criteria by more than 25 feet, and the recently completed Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center at the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living would also be grandfathered-in under the policy, unable to add any height with roof-top equipment or signage without a new determination.

>> In Tempe, Zaremba Group’s West 6th apartments comprise two towers that exceed the policy’s limitation by 209 feet at maximum.

“We recommend that the FAA withdraw its proposed OEI policy,” Lawless said in the letter. “This is a proposed solution in search of a problem.  If it intends to move forward with such a fundamental change, the FAA should only so if it has conducted the necessary economic and efficiency analysis that would (a) justify shifting the economic burden from airlines to communities, and (b) justify a change in the underlying rule, with an adequate opportunity for the public to provide meaningful comments on the FAA’s justification for the proposed policy.

“Should the FAA move forward, any OEI policy should, at a minimum, provide for certainty to developers and communities who engage in long-term planning, take into account the impacts and views of all stakeholders – not just in the aviation community, and be subjected to robust legislative rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, including a full cost- benefit and Federalism analysis.”

Comments are due by July 28.

boeing-phantom-ray

FAA delays unmanned aircraft decision

Citing safety concerns and privacy issues, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has delayed the selection of U.S. sites for the testing of unmanned aircraft, effectively putting the brakes on a push to integrate UAVs into civil airspace.

Congress had mandated that by the end of 2012, the FAA designate six UAS test sites to provide data to safely integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace by 2015. Arizona is one of 35 of states that want to be one of those six test sites.

In a letter to Republican Congressman Howard McKeon of California, chairman of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the establishment of six test sites for UAV for experimentation has been suspended indefinitely.

“Our target was to have six test sites by the end of 2012,” Huerta wrote in the letter. “However, increasing the use of UAS in our airspace also raises privacy issues, and these issues will need to be addressed as unmanned aircraft are safely integrated.”

Members of Congress in states where unmanned arial systems are built bristled at news of the delay, and in particular the FAA’s contention that it was moving to protect privacy, which they said has never been a part of the agency’s mandate.

UAV testing was included in the FAA’s latest reauthorization, the Congressional legislation that funds the agency. The same legislation commits the FAA to establishing rules to integrate small UAVs by 2015.

“The FAA will complete its statutory obligations to integrate UAS into the national airspace as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Huerta’s letter states. “However, we must fulfill those obligations in a thoughtful, prudent manner that ensures safety, addresses privacy issues, and promotes economic growth.”