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Photo flight in airplane, charter regulations, etc.

aerialimagery

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I have done hundreds and hundreds of photo missions from mainly Cessna 172 aircraft over the past 20+ years and most of the time it was with flight schools, and one of their instructors was my pilot.

Once in a while I try to schedule a plane and pilot with a flight school and they tell me they can't do it because either the plane or the pilot does not have charter certification. I recently had this happen and now have to look for someone else in an area where there are not many sources for aircraft and pilots. However, I believe there is an exception for doing aerial photography. Does anyone know what rule or exception I might cite to them?
 

aerialimagery

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Nevermind, we got an official answer from the FAA that confirmed what I thought.
 

BigAl07

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It's just like sUAS (same governing body).

For instance I can invite you to go fly with me and while flying you can take pictures to your hearts content and do whatever you want with them.

You can not "solicit me" to take you up to take pictures with intent to sell. Just like with sUAS it's all about INTENT of the flight.
 

R.Perry

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What you need to understand is most flight instructors are low hour pilots and may not even have enough hours for a commercial charter. If they were to get caught working as a charter pilot the FAA would clean their clock, not only that their insurance would not cover them.

Here is the way around it, become a student pilot, have the CFI take you up and pay him as a flight instructor, have him give you a five minutes lesson on flying then take all the pictures you want with him flying.

The Charter 135 certification take is a special endorsement to your commercial pilots license, just like the ATP (airline transport rating) is additional to you commercial ticket. At 250 hours of flight time a person can get a commercial ticket and CFI endorsement. It now takes 1500 hours to get the ATP rating.
 
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mdurbanek

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Talk about how times have changed...I started my photography career in Luis Martinez' neck of the woods flying out of Mesa and Glendale AZ. I did all my aerials there in the port seat of a 172 with the door removed. Super easy to shoot and direct the pilot into position. Much easier than shooting through that tiny window as we have to do now.
 

Dave Pitman

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Much easier than shooting through that tiny window as we have to do now.
Maybe I am misinterpreting you here. But there is no FAR that I know of requiring the door be used on a 172. Your local operator may require it but that is their choice, not a rule.
 

mdurbanek

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I distinctly remember back then (mid-70’s) that the airport had to certify a particular aircraft for that. It’s certainly possible that I was fed a load of horse-pucky on that...however, I have asked many times in the last 20 years here in California for that consideration, and been gazed at like I was from .Mars

It’s a great way to work, but it can get cold.
 

Dave Pitman

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The owner/operator of the plane applies for an STC in order for the aircraft to be certified "airworthy" when there have been changes made from when the model was certified.

Some STCs are difficult to obtain and some are fairly easy. Such is the case with the door removal in single engine Cessnas. Primarily because many many many STCs have already been granted for that. The process gives the FAA the chance to specify conditions, like making sure everything is tied down and in some cases requires additional restraints if the occupants are not wearing parachutes. But that usually is for older aircraft that don't even have shoulder straps.

Anyway, it's not too difficult to get the STC in a 172. At least it didn't used to be. In fact, most of the models I have flown in have quick disconnect cotter pin hinges to make removal very quick and tool-free.

Maybe for the charter guys, it's easier for them to just say NO. (or look at you funny). You could seek out an FBO that offers skydiving and they will likely have aircraft already carrying this STC for obvious reasons!
 

aerialimagery

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I CAN legally fly with a flight instructor (who is not charter certified) and take photographs professionally (for pay). I've done that for many years and recently clarified that with the FAA when a potential pilot had some doubts about whether he could legally do it.

I'm a little puzzled by the comment that the window in a 172 is "tiny." It must be at least 10" x 20", but it must be set up to open all the way to the wing. There's no need to remove a door, and the window only has to be opened during the photography. There is much more room to work if the photography is done from the rear seat.
 

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