UAV real estate Co. to expand nationwide following FAA exemption

By Luke Geiver | February 05, 2015

Mark Burns’ business dreams turned to reality last month after a single call from his attorney. “It was surreal,” Burns, founder of Burnz Eye View, a San Diego-based real estate video and production firm, told UAS Magazine. “The attorney said it was a great day for Burnz Eye View because our exemption came through.” Burnz Eye View was recently awarded a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration exemption to operate unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) commercially after waiting roughly six months.

Burns, a former Marine with experience in helicopter-based photography, moved from Virginia to San Diego three years ago to start a real estate photo and video firm. Following the FAA’s exemption, he is now looking to expand his San Diego team of roughly 15 to the entire U.S. “When we lived in Virginia, photos of real estate were always subpar. In San Diego, we knew the multi-million dollar properties needed to be shown in a better light.”

Following the announcement from the FAA, Burns said his phone and email accounts have been extremely busy. “We are getting emails and calls almost hourly now. It is very exciting,” he said.

Although his business is on the brink of booming thanks to the ability to implement UAVs into day-to-day operations, Burns is still looking to expand into other parts of the country. “We are looking to put together teams of skilled UAV pilots,” he said. UAV operators with private pilot’s licenses or multi-hour experience flying UAVs are the main need for his team. Those interested in joining his UAV commercial operation must also need to understand proper platform maintenance.

Under the stipulations issued by the FAA—stipulations Burns called strict but fair—all flights will be precluded by a pre-flight check list that ensures the platform is in working order and the electronic infrastructure is properly functioning. Following the flight, a maintenance log must be filled out to document flight time and any other in-flight incidents that may have occurred. “We have moved from a gray area to a commercial area,” he said.

The excitement of Burns won’t correlate to unsafe operations, however. According to Burns, safety will be his main priority due to the reality of the current state of the UAS industry. Burns believes many will be watching his company, along with other FAA-approved UAV entities. “We have to fit into a mold at the moment, and if we do things right, that mold can evolve,” he said.

The FAA exemption would not have happened without the guidance of aviation attorney Michael Curran, Burns said. Curran positioned the language in the application for exemption in a manner in which the FAA could understand. The application did however, go through many iterations before it reached the FAA, Burns said.

As he works to add crew members to his flight team, Burnz Eye has already reached back out to the FAA requesting the ability to fly additional UAV platforms not initially listed in the original exemption. The number of client requests for business in the San Diego area has already dramatically increased. “This gives us an opportunity to get our name out there. Real Estate is just the tip of the iceberg.”