Drone Exemptions for Hollywood Pave the Way for Widespread Commercial Use?

September 26th, 2014

HollywoodDroneExemptionAccording to the NYTimes:

The commercial use of drones in American skies took a leap forward on Thursday with the help of Hollywood.

The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to applications from seven filmmaking companies and pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America, said six of those companies could use camera-equipped drones on certain movie and television sets. Until now, the F.A.A. has not permitted commercial drone use except for extremely limited circumstances in wilderness areas of Alaska.

…The decision has implications for a broad range of industries including agriculture, energy, real estate, the news media and online retailing. “While the approval for Hollywood is very limited in scope, it’s a message to everyone that this ball is rolling,” said Greg Cirillo, chairman of the aviation practice at Wiley Rein, a law firm in Washington. Read the complete article here.

While, I agree with Greg Cirillo, that this is a step forward, I’m still skeptical that this move is anything more than the FAA succumbing to some massive lobbying and political pressure. The motion picture industry is able to put this kind of pressure on the FAA. One of the rules for this exemption is that the drones must be operated by technicians that have a pilots license. Not extensive experience operating a drone, but a license to fly a large aircraft. The other reason FAA is willing to grant this exemption is because TV and Movie production sets are generally a relatively controlled physical environment compared to other shooting situations like real estate.

I’ll be more optimistic about FAA progress regulating small UAVs when I see the FAA involved in small drone projects in such a way that they start to understand small drones and demonstrate some basic common sense. So far I haven’t seen that! All I see is the FAA trying to intimidate everyone. I think FAA is stuck in a conceptual past world where they see all aircraft the same. As long as the stay stuck in the past they are going to continue be ineffective at making sensible rules and laws for small commercial drones.

What do all you commercial pilots that I know are out there think? Am I all wet?


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4 Responses to “Drone Exemptions for Hollywood Pave the Way for Widespread Commercial Use?”

  • You’re dead on Larry. All that happened was the FAA was pressured by some very well funded influential parties. Hollywood’s ties and contributions certainly didn’t hurt either. As for the rest of us, no change at all…. Still “no business” as usual with the FAA.

  • I think you are correct Larry, but I hope this is a first step. As an Airline Transport Pilot I think the requirement for an FAA license to operate a drone is overkill. As a long time radio control flyer I know that there are many RC flyers that are much better at it than licensed pilots. If anything a class that teaches some FAA regs like airspace knowledge and safety should be required.

  • I live north of the border and we have our own up coming regulations hinted at by
    My hope is that they do regulate commercial use with a license, but one that is UAV specific. Basic knowledge of airspace structure so you know where you can fly or how to get permission to fly in the airspace. A flight test proving you ability to complete a set of maneuvers in a safe manner. Also the aircraft should require certain degrees of failsafe and maintenance records. There is actually a great app that records your batteries by bar code and you can add airframe bar codes so logging usage is very simple.
    Battery maintenance is a big thing with multicopters if they fail there is no recovery and improper care and handling will shorten their life. Regulation can go two ways one is to keep everyone safe and the second is to tie up everything in red tape so politicians can get jobs for their kids.

  • I am hopeful that because NAR is at the table with the FAA, we may have a chance to be approved and hopefully with it not costing us much.

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