FAA May Exempt Film Industry from UAV Rules

MPA petition under consideration.



The FAA says it is considering granting an exemption to the film and television industry that would allow commercial UAV operations with the government's blessing after the Motion Picture Association of America helped a group of its members file a government petition.

Seven aerial and video production companies are asking for regulatory exemptions that would permit them to film using cameras attached to small unmanned aerial vehicles. Current federal regulations prohibit such use without specific FAA certifications, which under today's regulatory framework are all but impossible to obtain.

Even if the petition is granted, seeking a UAV exemption won't be easy. In announcing that it is considering the request from the film and TV industry, the FAA insisted that all "associated safety issues must be carefully considered to make sure any hazards are appropriately mitigated." Petitioners must also state why such operations would be in the "public interest."

Representatives from precision agriculture, power line and pipeline inspection, and oil and gas inspection industries have also asked for exemptions ahead of formal FAA rules, being crafted now, that would permit commercial UAV flights under new FARs.

The FAA notes that Certificates of Waiver or Authorization are available for UAV operations today. Common uses, the agency says, include law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, military training and other government operational missions.

Commercial operations are authorized on "a case-by-case basis," the FAA says, although to date no commercial operations in U.S. airspace have been approved.

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