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As technology increases, drones are becoming more and more common in our every day lives. While the advent of this technology is supposed to make our lives easier, rapid change can also bring unintended consequences. Drones are not unique in this regard, as private drone usage has created several gray areas in the law.

There are several important legal requirements regulating drone usage. At the Federal level, the FAA distinguishes between three types of operators: commercial pilots for work/business purposes, hobbyists, and government employees. For example, pilots operating for work/business purposes, must obtain a remote pilot certificate as well as comply with FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107) requirements.

Arizona State Laws on Drones

There are additional Arizona state laws on drones that regulate their operation in the state.  SB 1449 was passed in 2016 and adds section 13-3729 to Arizona Revised Statutes. This statute, among other things, says:

  • Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) cannot interfere with police, firefighters, or manned aircrafts.
  • Flying a drone in “dangerous proximity” to a person or property is defined as disorderly conduct.
  • UAS cannot fly within 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of any critical facility. These include but are not limited to oil and gas facilities, water treatment facilities, power plants, courthouses, military installations, and hospitals.
  • Cities and towns in Arizona that contain more than one park must allow drones in at least one of them.
  • Cities and towns in Arizona are prohibited from creating their own drone laws. The Arizona State Legislature claims pre-emption for the creation of any regulation concerning drones.

Please note, while ARS 13-3729 states that local laws will be void, there are still limited circumstances, where, lawfully, state ordinances can impose additional regulation. Consequently, a survey of local ordinances is recommended to comprehensively understand the laws concerning safe drone operation.

Did You Know That Drone Usage Has Been an Issue For Firefighters Responding to Wildfires?

During a recent wildfire, five firefighting aviation operations had to be grounded because of the presence of private drones in the area. In response, Governor Doug Ducey tweeted, “Flying drones over or near wildfires is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. DON’T DO IT.” Interestingly, police followed the drone to the operator and law enforcement was involved.

What do Drone Laws Mean for Real Estate in Arizona?

Drones have played an increasingly large role in real estate. Drones have become crucial to real estate marketing, as they provide excellent aerial footage to highlight the property and the surrounding area. Additionally, some commercial real estate developers have used drones for construction benefits, such as attaching infrared cameras to assess heat loss from buildings, searching for ground water locations, and surveying large properties.

As noted earlier, drone operators must abide by FAA commercial usage rules (which includes a remote pilot certificate) and Arizona State rules. Drones must be registered with the FAA and various filing fees will apply.  You can find the FAA drone registration process online here.

Find an Experienced Real Estate Attorney in Arizona

At MacQueen & Gottlieb, we understand the advantages and enjoyment that drones can bring, both commercially and recreationally. Our firm can help you comply with federal, state, and local regulations, so that you and your property can benefit from this new technology in your real estate business in Arizona. Contact us today at 602-562-7218 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.

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