We know you must have a hundred questions. It’s understandable. There’s much to know about unmanned aerial imaging. We’re working on a comprehensive list of the most commonly asked questions. We’ll be adding more in the coming weeks.
What is better, multirotor or helicopter?
The main differences between the two are payload capacity, flight time, ease of piloting, style of flying, and vibration. A multirotor carrying a Canon 5D/7D can expect to get about 6-9 minutes of flight time on average. An 700-800 class helicopter helicopter can get between 10-15 minutes. The multirotor is more of a ‘tripod in the sky’ or perhaps an ‘extended length crane/jib’. In other words, slow camera moves and hovering. A helicopter can do that but can also do high speed runs as in chase scenes traveling up to 60mph. Multirotors offer very low vibration and are very easy to fly where as helicopters require more time and care to tune for low vibration and are rather difficult to fly. Helicopters are quite difficult to fly and require a year of more of training to become proficient enough to fly in a professional environment. Multirotor systems can be learned within a couple months or less. In either case, be prepared for a significant learning curve if you have zero prior RC flying experience.
I want to operate in the United States. Is it true the FAA is currently prohibiting the use of unmanned aircraft?
Yes, and no. As of this time the FAA’s policy does NOT allow commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System (NAS). Non-commercial use and hobby use are permitted to fly anywhere in the NAS but it is recommended to keep the aircraft below 400′ above the ground and within visual range of the pilot. It is also recommended to operate with a pilot and safety spotter at all times. There are many commercial operators who have continued to fly unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes but they understand they are doing so at their own risk. Should an accident or incident happen it’s likely the FAA would seek enforcement action against those operators. In short, we do nit recommend it but if you decide to operate commercially in the NAS, do so at your own risk. Don’t worry though, Congress passed a bill early in 2012 forcing the FAA to put regulations in place to allow the use of unmanned aircraft commercially between 2012-2015. Legal use (with restrictions) is coming.