The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says seven aerial photo and video production companies have asked for regulatory exemptions that would allow the film and television industry to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with FAA approval for the first time.
According to the FAA, the firms are asking the agency to grant exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, and maintenance and equipment mandates. They are also asking for relief from airworthiness certification requirements as allowed under Section 333, where specific UAS can fly safely in narrowly defined, controlled, low-risk situations.
To receive the exemptions, the firms must show that their UAS operations will not adversely affect safety, or provide at least an equal level of safety to the rules from which they seek the exemption. They would also need to show why granting the exemption would be in the public interest.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) facilitated the exemption requests on behalf of their membership. The firms that filed the petitions are all independent aerial cinematography professionals who collectively developed the exemption requests as a requirement to satisfy the safety and public interest concerns of the FAA, MPAA and the public at large.
If the exemption requests are granted, there could be tangible economic benefits as the FAA begins to address the demand for commercial UAS operations, the agency explains.
However, it notes that all the associated safety issues must be carefully considered to make sure any hazards are appropriately mitigated, and the petitioner must still obtain operational approval from the FAA.
Companies from three industries besides film production, including precision agriculture, power line and pipeline inspection, and oil and gas flare stack inspection, have also approached the FAA and are also considering filing exemption requests.