A few years ago, Amazon gained a great deal of attention when it revealed that it was testing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) for package delivery. This no doubt sparked many ideas from businesses of all sizes throughout the country, but at the time, it was unclear how commercial use of such devices would be regulated. Since then, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made things clearer and even relaxed some of its stricter guidelines. Now, more businesses have opportunities to utilize UAVs for a variety of uses.

As Adam Uzialko at Business News Daily notes, "So far, businesses have used drones largely in video and photography, especially for marketing purposes, but there are many other applications of UAV technology that might surprise you. From agriculture to internet access, drones are a multipurpose tool that offers the potential to reimagine some of the most critical ways humanity operates."1

If you've seen Amazon's YouTube video2, delivery is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of commercial drone use. This is certainly a feasible use for many businesses, but businesses must adhere to a 55-pound weight limit, which includes the weight of the vehicle itself.

In the agriculture industry, drones can be used for numerous tasks that save time and manpower. Such tasks include spraying of crops, identification of failing plants, and mapping land and/or irrigation systems. Drones are also being used by engineers and people in other fields for surveying purposes, as well for surveillance by emergency services.

As long as government rules are adhered to, drones have the potential to be used for just about anything they're capable of. If your business can be improved by drone use, you just may be able to capitalize on the technology. Just know what is permissible. You'll need to consider both state and federal law, though the state of Nevada currently only has a single law3 that pertains to drones, you'll find most of the rules you need to be aware of on the FAA's website.4

For one, you'll need to apply for a waiver under part 107 of the FAA's regulations. You'll also need to become certified to fly, but this is said to be relatively easy for most adults to accomplish in a short amount of time. Pilots are required to perform pre-flight checks on the vehicle's condition. Pilots must also be able to see the aircraft as it flies, and the craft must not be operated above people who are not involved with the operation. Drug and alcohol tests are required for employees who will be flying drones. For international flight, additional certification is required.

There are too many rules to list them all here, but the FAA provides a helpful summary.5 There is also a very helpful FAQ page6 you can reference if you're serious about incorporating drones into your operations.

Regarding Nevada, UAV Coach explains, "This law prohibits the weaponization of UAS, and the use of UAS within a certain distance of critical facilities and airports without permission. This law also specifies restrictions on the use of UAS by law enforcement and public agencies, and requires the creation of a registry of all UAS operated by public agencies in the state."7 Click here for contact information for the Nevada Department of Transportation.   

Beyond the government, you'll also want to make sure you're satisfying client/customer concerns. For example, some may want to know if you are a licensed FAA drone pilot, if you receive FAA clearance for every flight, if your pilot is insured, if your pilot has a visual observer, if you keep a flight log, etc. Simply put, be prepared to answer these types of questions.

1. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9276-commercial-drones-business-uses.html

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNySOrI2Ny8

3. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/78th2015/Bill/1672/Overview

4. https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/

5. https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf

6. https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/faqs

7. https://uavcoach.com/drone-laws-nevada/

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC