Film groups seek drones
WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is considering giving permission to seven movie and television filming companies to use unmanned aircraft for aerial photography, a potentially significant step that could lead to greater relaxation of the agency’s ban on commercial use of drones.
The companies that have filed petitions to receive exemptions are Aerial MOB LLC, Astraeus Aerial, Flying-Cam Inc., HeliVideo Productions LLC, Pictorvision Inc., Vortex Aerial, and Snaproll Media LLC, the FAA said in a statement. To receive the exemptions, the companies must show their drone operations won’t harm safety, and would be in the public interest.
Currently, no commercial drone flights are permitted in U.S. with the lone exception of flights off the Alaskan coast over the Arctic Ocean by the Conoco Philips oil company. The FAA only granted permission for those flights after Congress told the agency to start permitting flights in the Arctic region.
The FAA has been under intense pressure from Congress and industry to allow commercial drone flights. Drones also are often less expensive to operate than manned aircraft. The agency has been working for the past decade on safety regulations to permit widespread commercial drone use. The FAA’s current timetable calls for releasing proposed regulations for operating small drones — usually defined as weighing less than 55 pounds — by November.