Senior Advisor
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Registered: ‎04-30-2010

Iowa Farm Burea On UAS (drones)

[ Edited ]

Here's a piece from the Iowa Farm Bureau that fairly states the current status of the use of UAS for you to check crops or count cows on your farm.  In a word, it's illegal, but read for yourself - it's short.

New FAA Notice of Interpretation regarding drone use

The Federal Aviation Administration released a Notice of Interpretation to clarify the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which established a “special rule for model aircraft.” In the Act, Congress gave the FAA a deadline of September 2015 to allow commercial drone flights.

The Notice of Interpretation does the following:

Defines a model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft that is “(1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” Model aircraft that are less than 55 pounds and follow community-based safety guidelines are exempt from FAA regulations. Model aircraft flown within 5 miles of an airport must provide the airport air traffic control tower with prior notice of the operation.

The FAA interprets “flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft” to mean that the operator must use his or her own natural vision (without binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and other vision-enhancing devices) and the aircraft must be visible to the operator at all times. The operator could not rely on another person to satisfy the visual line of sight requirement. 

The rule differentiates hobby and recreational purpose from non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. The FAA finds that commercial operation would not be hobby or recreation flights, and therefore would not be operated under the special rule for model aircraft. If the UAV flight is in furtherance of a business, or incidental to a person’s business, then it would be a commercial flight. The example given of a hobby activity would be viewing a field to determine whether crops grown for personal enjoyment need water. An example of a non-hobby activity, which would be regulated by the FAA, is determining whether crops that are grown as part of a commercial farming operation need to be watered. [b]This rule prohibits farmers, ranchers and all commercial operators from using drones until the FAA institutes regulations. [/b] (bold added by poster)

The FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against any operator that endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, even if it qualifies as a model aircraft.

The Notice of Interpretation can be found here:

New state law on drone surveillance took effect July 1

A bill, H.F. 2289, that regulates the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, took effect on July 1, 2014. The bill only regulates the State’s ability to use drones.

State, counties, and cities shall not use a UAV for traffic law enforcement. 

Information obtained from a UAV is not admissible in court unless the information was obtained through a search warrant or another manner consistent with state and federal law.

The Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General, state and local agencies, and other interested organizations shall develop guidelines for the use of UAVs and develop a report to the Legislature no later than December 31, 2014. 

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