US allows TV and film companies to use drones

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted permission to six television and movie firms, allowing them to use drones to shoot scenes.

The groundbreaking ruling reverses previously tight restrictions on the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) - also known as drones, within US airspace.

But there are restrictions.

The UAS cannot operate at night, and the aircraft need to be inspected before each flight.

The US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "Today's announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight.

"These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance."

The six companies had asked the FAA to grant them exemptions from regulations which address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates.

In their applications the firms said the operators will hold private pilot certificates, keep the UAS within line of sight at all times and restrict flights to the "sterile area" on the set.

"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 in a statement.

He added, "We are thoroughly satisfied these operations will not pose a hazard to other aircraft or to people and property on the ground."

The FAA is currently working on an approval process for a seventh company, Flying-Cam, which filed for exemptions in June.

Approved by FAA: Using drones for filming

  • Astraeus Aerial
  • Aerial MOB
  • HeliVideo Productions
  • Pictorvision Inc
  • RC Pro Productions Consulting
  • Snaproll Media

Drone mania

Usually confined to military use, drones are increasingly being integrated into the strategies of companies outside the area of defence.

Late last year US online retailer Amazon announced the company was testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers.

The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, according to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos.

However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.

Meanwhile Google has built and tested autonomous aerial vehicles, which it believes could be used for goods deliveries.

The project is being developed at Google X, the company's clandestine tech research arm, which is also responsible for its self-driving car.

Project Wing has been running for two years. Google said that its long-term goal was to develop drones that could be used for disaster relief by delivering aid to isolated areas.

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