Awaiting FAA regulation, local Realtor green-lights drones

LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — Technology is changing rapidly – but one hot gadget is progressing more slowly into the mainstream because of the federal government.

Up until now, the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t allow drones to be used for commercial purposes.

This week, they granted the first permit for drone flights in Alaska, a move that could eventually ripple to Central Texas.

As the FAA drags its feet, one local real estate photographer is spreading his wings.

“It’s not like before when if you had a helicopter, you had to be a pilot first before you started doing photography,” real estate photographer David Stewart said. “These are very easy to use.”

“This is equipped with a video transmitter downlink that feeds into my goggles that I use to fly,” Stewart said, showing the drone’s features.

By using his quadcopter, David says he can provide his clients with a bird’s eye view.

“It really gives a good perspective of what this listing has to offer,” Stewart said.

Ryan Rogers, the real estate agent selling this Lake Travis property, started partnering with David in just the past nine months.

“To be able to scout a property from hundreds of miles away by a video and not just by a picture…the way that the house sits to the water, the steps down to the lake, the boat dock,” Rogers said. “There are a whole lot of other things that that drone can actually see.”

David abides by regulations requiring drones to stay below 400 feet, and stay within his line-of-sight.

“I wouldn’t take too kindly to have someone tell me that I couldn’t use my photography equipment for my job,” Stewart said. “This is a useful tool for what I do.”

Some drone photographers in San Francisco are getting around the federal regulations by charging for their video editing services, and not charging for the actual drone flights.

Congress has mandated the FAA spell out specific rules by September 30, 2015.

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