Movie Camera Drones Get FAA Go-Ahead


The Federal Aviation Administration has given permission to six TV movie production firms to use drones for filming. It’s an exemption to a general US ban on commercial use of drones and could pave the way for other uses.

The exemptions mean the production companies won’t have to follow the same extensive set of rules that cover planes and helicopters. The FAA says that as the applications provided evidence the drones don’t pose a threat to safety or security, they won’t have to get a certificate of airworthiness. (A seventh firm will have to undergo further examination before getting an exemption.)

  • The firms will have to follow several restrictions.
  • Operators must hold a private pilot license.
  • Operators must inspect the drone before each flight.
  • The drone must be within sight of the operator at all times.
  • The drones can only fly during daylight.
  • The drones can operate only on and over sets that are closed to the public.
  • Any accidents or incidents must be reported to the FAA.

The applications were handled as a group through the Motion Picture Association of America and the FAA says that a similar group application might work well for other industries as this could allow firms to draw up standard operating procedures for the drones.

The FAA also said it’s currently considering 40 requests for exemption from other companies. Its website shows these include firms that would use the drones for aerial mapping, examining crop conditions on expansive farmland, remotely inspecting power plants and “patrolling” the surrounding grounds, getting up-to-date data for planning surface mining, inspecting cellphone towers,

There are no active applications from Google or Amazon. Both firms have talked about using drones for deliveries, though in both cases it seems to be a long-term project at best.

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