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Cinematic Aerospace, a Northeast drone services company, has completed what it claims to be the first commercial drone flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City.

On April 11, the company flew an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at JFK’s TWA Flight Center to film an upcoming documentary on the construction of the new TWA Hotel and the history of the vintage airport terminal.

Christian Tucci, the UAS pilot in command, and Kyle Hurley, the visual observer, performed five flights in the span of the approved flight window. A DJI Inspire 2 climbed to a maximum altitude of 200 feet while maneuvering in various arcs over the TWA terminal building, designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1962. The company notes that all flights were conducted with a continuous visual line of sight of the drone.

According to Cinematic Aerospace, a few months of planning went into these flights, including multiple meetings at JFK with airport managers, the airport authority, law enforcement, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), JFK air traffic control, JetBlue and the documentary production crew.

The company says it secured a Part 107 UAS airspace authorization from the FAA and other various permissions from local stakeholders. It was established early on that the surrounding airport would not need to be shut down for this operation, as the approved flight area for the UAS would remain over the construction site and TWA Flight Center area.

Over the course of numerous on-site scout days before the actual flight day, the flight crew tested for radio and communications interference, visited the construction site and air traffic control tower, and planned out shots with the director, Peter Rosen.

“Drones have been permitted for use in Class B controlled airspace in the United States a few very limited times before but never untethered at an airport like JFK within the busy New York/New Jersey terminal area,” notes David Windmiller, co-founder of Cinematic Aerospace.

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Photos courtesy of Cinematic Aerospace

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