Six, possibly seven, Hollywood movie production companies are the first commercial enterprises to receive exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use unmanned drone aircraft inside the U.S. for commercial purposes.
The FAA approved six firms — Astraeus Aerial, Aerial MOB, HeliVideo Productions, Pictorvision Inc., RC Pro Productions Consulting, and Snaproll Media — to start using drones in filming, while continuing to review an application from a seventh production company, Flying-Cam, Inc., the Los Angeles Times
The FAA, which says it is currently reviewing 40 requests for commercial use of drones, has been criticized for dragging its feet on approving the use of drones for commercial purposes, even for testing, while other countries have been more willing to accept commercial drone use, allowing German firm DHL to launch the world's first commercial drone flight, the New York Times reported
Google and Amazon have been forced to Canada and Australia to test their planned delivery drones. Drones have been used in movies such as the James Bond film "Skyfall," and others filmed outside of the U.S.
However, the FAA, voicing concerns over air safety as the cause for banning commercial drone use since 2007, still does not plan to release finalized regulations until 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported
U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, "Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) 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."
Production companies see drones as a way to obtain aerial film footage without the more dangerous and costly use of helicopters. Motion Picture Association of America senior vice president Neil Fried told the LA Times, "Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming. This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots, and is the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience."
FAA administrator Michael Huerta explained to the Times, "We are thoroughly satisfied these operations will not pose a hazard to other aircraft or to people and property on the ground.
"The applicants submitted UAS flight manuals with detailed safety procedures that were a key factor in our approval of their requests."
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