FAA Set To Approve Drones for Filming

Unmanned aerial vehicles are heading for Hollywood.

Draganfly Drone Filming

Draganfly Drone Filming

Photo courtesy of Draganfly

After a continued battle between UAV operators and the FAA, the agency has reached a decision to allow for more extensive commercial use of drones for the purpose of film production.

The agency said today it has granted regulatory exemptions to six video production companies, the first step in allowing the film and television industry to use UAVs for movie and TV production.

The FAA says UAVs used for filming do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness based on a finding that “they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”

The film and TV companies, with input from the Motion Picture Association of America, asked the agency to grant exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates. To receive the exemptions, the firms had to show their UAV operations would not adversely affect safety, or would provide at least an equal level of safety to the rules from which they seek the exemptions.

In their applications, the firms said the operators will hold private pilot certificates, keep the UAVs within line of sight at all times and restrict flights to the "sterile area" on the set. In granting the exemption, the FAA accepted these safety conditions, adding an inspection of the aircraft before each flight, and prohibiting operations at night. The agency also will issue Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) that mandate flight rules and timely reports of any accident or incidents.

The FAA says it is encouraging other industry associations to work with to develop safety manuals and standard operating procedures that will help facilitate similar petitions. As of today, the agency is considering 40 requests for exemptions from other would-be commercial UAV operators.

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