New FAA Ruling Clears Way for Property Drone Consortium Members to Fly Drones

June 18, 2015

Allstate and the Property Drone Consortium, a group of insurers, construction industry leaders and others supporting drone research, announced that a new FAA ruling will allow the consortium to fly drones for property claims research on behalf of customers. The Property Drone Consortium has been granted an exemption by the FAA to put drones in flight for further research, which could lead to using drones in areas hit hard by catastrophe and other situations.

MD4-1000. Photo provided by Eagleview Technologies.
MD4-1000. Photo provided by Eagleview Technologies.

The exemption allows the use of the Microdrones MD4−1000 and Aerialtronics Altura Zenith ATX8 for aerial data collection, including research for property inspection in the insurance and construction industries. EagleView is working closely with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), to lead the research effort for the consortium focusing on the collection and processing of intelligent images utilizing drone platforms and their subsequent assessment for property exteriors, specifically roof damage detection. Research will also include ongoing safety initiatives for collision avoidance, visual line of sight and automated flight planning.

In the event of a catastrophe, physical access to a neighborhood might be restricted by local authorities or by debris. In this situation, a drone could potentially help claims professionals serve customers in spite of those restrictions. Ongoing weather could also affect physical inspections of property where a drone might be able to work without any delay. All of this provides an opportunity for Allstate to better serve customers in a fast and easy way.

“Clearing this hurdle is a big step forward as we continue to research the benefits of using drones in our property claims service,” says Allstate’s Claims Vice President Shawn Broadfield. “Having the ability to use drones in areas hit-hard by catastrophe where accessibility is limited will help us better assist our customers when they need us most. Allstate is always looking to leverage innovation as we help our customers protect what matters to them most.”

The FAA approval paves the way for the collection and processing of intelligent images for research using drones, which can help expedite the assessment of exterior property, like roof damage. The consortium also plans to continue its research on safety, including collision avoidance, visual line of sight and automated flight planning with drones.

This specific exemption includes the following provisions about the flight and use of drones:

  • Must be 5 nautical miles away from airports with a control tower.
  • Flights can only happen up to 400 feet above ground.
  • Must be over private property with permission from the property owner.
  • Pilot in command must have a pilot’s license (commercial, private, or sport), and a FAA airman medical certificate or driver’s license and training on the unmanned aerial vehicle system.
  • Must be flown within unaided line of sight and flown in daylight with a visual observer.
  • Permission authorized until May 31, 2017.

The Property Drone Consortium began its work at the start of this year and is led by EagleView Technology Corporation, a technology provider of aerial imagery, data analytics and geographic information system solutions.

To learn more about the Property Drone Consortium, visit

Source: Allstate/Property Drone Consortium

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