US gives Hollywood film studios green light on drone use

The US aviation authority has granted exemptions for video-equipped drones to be used in film production (Photo: Ben Coxworth/Gizmag)

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has today granted exemptions to six Hollywood studios to use drones in film production. The move marks significant progress in a collective push from commercial entities to tap into the potential of UAVs, something that the FAA as so far determined a no-go zone.

A cursory glance at some breath-taking drone footage floating around the internet makes it easy to see why Hollywood is keen to get in on the action. The ability to capture footage from unique angles without the need for a full-size helicopter would lead to massive savings for production studios. The FAA has until now not allowed commercial drone use, though it has previously given permission for aerial surveys in Alaska.

The beneficiaries of the latest exemptions are Astraeus Aerial, Aerial MOB,, HeliVideo Productions, Pictorvision, RC Pro Productions Consulting, Vortex Aerial and Snaproll Media, all represented by the Motion Picture Association of America. The exemptions outline a strict set of safety guidelines.

All drone operators must hold private pilot certificates, the drones must only be flown within line of sight and be subject to inspection before each use. Flying at night time will not be permitted and the agency will outline further rules and requirements by issuing Certificates of Waiver or Authorization.

"The applicants submitted UAS flight manuals with detailed safety procedures that were a key factor in our approval of their requests," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We are thoroughly satisfied these operations will not pose a hazard to other aircraft or to people and property on the ground."

This progress is important. Not just for Hollywood, but for other industries that hold similar ambitions. Amazon and Google are two of the bigger names to float the idea of using UAVs for delivery, while others that stand to benefit from regulatory approval include real estate, agriculture and, for better or worse, the paparazzi.

The FAA says it currently has another 40 exemption applications from commercial firms currently under consideration.

Source: FAA

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