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Aerial Photography Question

Old 12-06-2012, 05:54 PM
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I currently hold a Commercial-Multi Instrument rating the question is: can I advertise (create a website) aerial photography services without running into any legal issues with the FAA by holding out my services?

Secondly, what plane can I legally use (a rental? or not?). My boss does have me under his insurance under a Piper Pawnee, mainly used for banner-tow flights. He also has a cessna 172 he lets me use. Would I have to give him a fraction of what i receive off of the photography?

-Thanks
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhassett
I currently hold a Commercial-Multi Instrument rating the question is: can I advertise (create a website) aerial photography services without running into any legal issues with the FAA by holding out my services?

Secondly, what plane can I legally use (a rental? or not?). My boss does have me under his insurance under a Piper Pawnee, mainly used for banner-tow flights. He also has a cessna 172 he lets me use. Would I have to give him a fraction of what i receive off of the photography?

-Thanks
If you are not commercial single engine rated.. don't even bother. The commercial rating only applies to the class of aircraft. Both the 172 and Pawnee are single, so you could only use multi-engine aircraft.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:34 AM
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I have my Commercial Single Engine Land, and Multi Engine Land. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:31 AM
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Because it is aerial photography, there is no issue with "holding out" or advertising as long as you return to the same airport you departed and aren't carrying people. If you have a passenger (including a hired photographer) onboard, you need to ensure that the flight meets the requirements of a "sightseeing flight" as well. If that's the case, then there are a bunch of other requirements to meet, including obtaining an LOA from the FSDO and participating in a DOT drug testing program.

The FAA doesn't care what aircraft you use, however there may be insurance ramifications if you're using a rental or the particular (commercial) activties you are doing aren't considered covered.

With regards to insurance, I would personally want to be a named insured on the policy with a waiver of subrogation. I'd also want coverage for the specific activities I planned on doing, particularly if it's at a lower altitude. Be careful using rentals for an activity like this since many rental places specifically prohibit use of the aircraft for commercial activities.

The Pawnee probably isn't a great photo platform due to the low wing. The 172 is much better due to the high wing and the fact it won't be in your photos.

As to paying your boss or the aircraft owner a portion of the revenues, that's entirely between you and him. At the end of the day though, unless you really know what you're doing, you have a high quality camera set up, and you can obtain an aircraft at a very inexpensive rate, aerial photography generally doesn't pay.

These days, most places that take aerial photos do so using a balloon mounted camera. Many professional places are waiting for UAV/UAS approval.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:32 AM
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Legally, yes you can do it. There is an exemption to 135 requirements for certain types of small-time flight ops which do not by their nature involve transporting pax or cargo from A to B (flight instruction, photo ops, local sightseeing, etc). See FAR 119.1(e). Also if you carry a passenger who is doing the photography better look at FAR 147 and discuss this with the FSDO.

But that's just the FAR's....

For insurance purposes, you will need to address this with the underwriter to make sure you understand what coverage you actually have and what kind of operations it applies to. You may not legally need insurance, that's a state thing (but I'm sure your boss will require insurance).

You also have to consider local/state business laws...they will all want to get a piece of you for business licenses, fees, taxes, etc. You will also need to consider federal tax withholding if you make any kind of income doing this.
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:23 PM
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Thank you very much for the replies and for being clear! Seems a lot more complicated than I thought. I was just thinking of some ideas to build some more time while not in the banner season..
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:41 PM
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Consider getting your CFI and teaching. You'll likely get more out of it in the end.
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:24 PM
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Ya, that is next up on the list. Will be getting that next semester in college. Although, I do have around 600 hours and get about 200 - 300 hours in a banner tow season, and some occasional charter time in a King Air and Cessna Caravan Amphibs. I am trying to avoid the CFI route, but it is good to have for an option..
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhassett
Ya, that is next up on the list. Will be getting that next semester in college. Although, I do have around 600 hours and get about 200 - 300 hours in a banner tow season, and some occasional charter time in a King Air and Cessna Caravan Amphibs. I am trying to avoid the CFI route, but it is good to have for an option..
Even though being a CFI sucks for most people, do it. It keeps you fresh on your knowledge. Depending on where you are going next, they will prefer CFI's usually. It keeps you sharp and allows you to multi-task much better.
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