CNN Acquires New UAV as Part of FAA Pathfinder Efforts


To advance its efforts to employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for newsgathering, CNN has acquired a Delta X8 from Altus Unmanned Aerial Solutions (Altus UAS) of New Zealand.

Selected as one the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) three Pathfinder Program organizations, CNN has been actively engaged in identifying and evaluating UAVs that meet both functionality and safety requirements.

After meeting with CNN in May, Altus UAS was chosen to demonstrate the capabilities, redundancies and safety features of the Delta X8 UAV. Later, Altus UAS, in conjunction with U.S. partner Blue Chip Unmanned Aerial Solutions (Blue Chip UAS), further demonstrated the Delta X8 to the FAA and the Pathfinder Program leaders. Blue Chip UAS holds Section 333 exemptions for commercial UAV flight operations across multiple industries, one of which is aerial filming and photography.

With CNN’s purchase of the Delta X8, Altus UAS is providing technology and support, and Blue Chip UAS is providing operators and training for CNN. All three parties are reporting to the Pathfinder Program on the system’s capabilities.

In addition, Blue Chip UAS has facilitated comprehensive testing of the system airworthiness, capabilities, safety and procedures at the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR), located in Wichita, Kan. Blue Chip UAS will oversee the continued testing of the Delta X8 at the NIAR facilities in coordination with CNN and report back to the FAA.

The FAA first initiated the Pathfinder Program to explore UAV operations not addressed in its proposed rules. The agency is working with PrecisionHawk, CNN and BNSF Railroad on three focus areas, respectively: extended visual line-of-sight (VLOS) operations in rural areas, VLOS operations in urban areas and beyond-VLOS operations in rural/isolated areas.

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