Drone technology has revolutionized the construction process, effectively cutting costs, risks, and labor. Drones offer distinctive advantages in the monitoring of a project and minimizing safety issues that arise in a complex construction project. Drone photographs and videos are valuable tools to map out the topography of large tracts of land, locate machinery on-site during a project, provide visibility reports for clients, and prevent workers from navigating hazardous conditions. They offer valuable information for a pre-construction site review or gathering data from a construction project that is in progress. They are useful for viewing pipelines, bridges, and inspecting damages of high-rise buildings without putting employees at risk of hazardous conditions, especially for force majeure events. Commercial drones utilize cameras, global positioning systems, and thermal infrared sensors to capture essential data for a site.
Risks Associated with Drone usage at Construction Sites.
Beyond the apparent benefits of drone usage, construction professionals must understand the legalities and potential risks. Drones are considered unmanned aircraft systems. In 2016, the Federal Aviation Association introduced comprehensive regulations to monitor the usage of commercial drones. The Federal Aviation Association can impose penalties of up to eleven thousand dollars for each violation of their rules. These regulations, along with state laws and local ordinances that regulate drone usage, are ever-evolving. Construction professionals must stay current with these regulations and remain in compliance, or they may face legal consequences.
Some of the regulations for drone usage are:
- A person that pilots a drone must have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate through the Federal Aviation Association, which requires the pilot to pass a test on aeronautical knowledge.
- Flight altitude cannot exceed 400 feet, and drone speed must not be over 100 mph.
- Drones are prohibited from flying directly over people and are permitted to operate during the day or twilight hours with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
- The drone pilot must maintain a visual line of sight with the drone and not operate from a moving vehicle.
- Drone operators must yield to aircraft.
- They must avoid restricted airspace unless they have applied and received a waiver.
- A drone’s weight must be less than 55 pounds and be registered with the Federal Aviation Association.
Protection from Liability
Drone technology is a trend that will continue to grow in the construction industry. As of March 2020, the Federal Aviation Association listed over 443,000 drones for commercial use. Many legal issues encompass commercial drone usage, and a construction professional must have risk management measures in place. It is essential to implement policies and procedures to ensure a safe operation for pre-flight and in-flight performance, and have guidelines for accident reporting and other legal issues.
There is a potential for drone accidents to cause serious injuries. Cybersecurity and privacy is an issue with the taking of photographs and videos without authorized consent. Written permission should be obtained from employees and visitors to a construction site regarding pictures and videos. Drones are vulnerable to data theft of valuable proprietary information. Many companies outsource drone operations, which require a contract between parties to manage the inherent risks. Insurance policies are available to cover monetary damages for lawsuits. These include liability for property damage, bodily injury, violation of privacy rights, and other scenarios that may arise from drone technology.
The Boutty Law Firm Is Dedicated to the Success of our Clients
The Boutty Law Firm P.A. is a multi-service firm that provides quality legal representation for the construction community in Central Florida. Our law firm can draft, review, and negotiate contracts designed to protect you from liability. We understand regulatory compliance and can counsel our clients on risk management matters. For disputes that may arise from the usage of drone technology or other business matters, we are your fierce advocates. We find practical solutions to your most challenging legal problems.
We are located in Maitland, Florida, and represent clients throughout Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Volusia Counties. Call our office at 407-622-1395 or 407-622-1395, for a free initial consultation.