5 Questions With: Jim Cox, Licensed Drone Operator

Williamson Source 5 Questions

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Jim Cox

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NyBuilding 10, LLC operates the first Tennessee FAA waivered commercial drone company for the purpose of photography, videography and cinematography.  We took some time to talk to the founder of the newly based Franklin, TN company, Jim Cox, to talk about drones, new FAA regulations and the importance of being informed in a newly growing industry.

“The thing that amazes me is that you have people openly touting that they are commercial operators and they believe the FAA is only going to slap their wrists if they get caught. The FAA knows this and has been stepping up its policing efforts.”–Jim Cox, Owner and founder of Building 10,LLC


Who can or can’t fly a drone?
In short, anyone can fly a drone for recreational purposes provided of course, they follow the regulations the FAA has established. The important word here is recreational. If someone wishes to fly a drone for commercial or governmental purposes, then the rules are very different and require petitioning the FAA to do so.


How does the FAA define “hobby” and “commercial” use?
There is a really great website entitled “Know Before You Fly”  that does a nice job of describing the difference between them in layman’s terms. The bottom line is that if it involves money, directly or indirectly, then it’s considered a commercial endeavor. I would urge anyone who flies a drone to take a look at the website. It was developed to help drone users understand all their responsibilities and limitations in helping to keep the nation’s air space safe.


What are the possible consequences of failure to follow FAA regs?
Recreational flyers are still required to follow the laws surrounding the national air space. For example, you can’t fly any drone more than 400 feet above the ground and you must be 5 miles away from an airport. These are federal laws and the penalties described in them usually include fines and or imprisonment. Flying commercially in violation of the law is going to net you much bigger penalties. The thing that amazes me is that you have people openly touting that they are commercial operators and they believe the FAA is only going to slap their wrists if they get caught. The FAA knows this and has been stepping up its policing efforts. As more companies get a legitimate FAA waiver, those operators will not tolerate losing market share to an illegal competitor. In fact, that has already happened in South Carolina where a legal operator, who was doing aerial real estate photography, turned in 11 illegal companies, who were competing with him, to the FAA.


Why is it important that someone needing drone capabilities hire someone of your qualifications v. joe schmo who has a drone?
Very simply, it’s the law. Unless “Joe” has a Part 333 waiver from the FAA as we do, then he’s violating the law. Further, all of the FAA waivers to date have required the drone operator to be a licensed airplane or helicopter pilot. In fact, that would be the first question I asked of anyone I considered hiring. Also, the organization that hires a drone operator is taking a huge liability risk. Every insurance policy has a clause that states that they do not pay if you’re doing anything illegal. So, hiring someone who is not flying legally could leave you holding the bag if an accident or injury occurred. We are the first private company in Tennessee to hold an FAA waiver for what we do. Despite the large cost in time and money, we went down the path of obtaining a waiver first because we knew it needed to be done. Anything less would put our future customers at risk.


Define the classifications of drones..i.e. when does a drone type device go from being a toy, to a “hobby” to regulated, or is there a defining ceiling?
The term ‘drone’ has been something that the press uses to describe anything that flies remotely and this has led to a lot of confusion. The actual dividing line is a small unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds to be flown in the airspace below 400 feet. There is no differentiation between the terms toy and hobby. So, even something considered by someone to be a ‘toy’ must still observe the regulations surrounding flight in the national air space. By the way, many drone users think that the space below 400 feet is not regulated which is entirely incorrect. The FAA has responsibility for everything from the ground up.

If you would like more information or are looking for a FAA licensed drone operator contact Building 10,LLC at:

1112 Settlers Ct., Franklin, TN 37064

James Cox, [email protected]


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