Six Hollywood production companies have a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly camera-equipped drones on movie and television sets, paving the way for other interim drone approvals and providing some insight into what formal regulations that are expected to be adopted next year might look like.
The six companies granted exemptions for commercial drone flights promised that operators will hold private pilot certificates, and keep their aircraft within the line of sight at all times within restricted areas of movie and television sets. The FAA will also require inspections of the “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs) before each flight, which will be allowed to take place only during the day.
“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAV use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “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 FAA is considering 40 more requests for regulatory exemptions from other companies while it drafts formal regulations that are expected to be proposed this year for adoption in 2015. The FAA has invited the National Association of Realtors to participate in a working group that will provide input on the regulations.
In June, the FAA warned real estate agents who fly their own drones to take pictures or videos of listings that they are not engaged in a “hobby or recreation,” and could be subject to enforcement action.
While it’s in the process of drafting the new regulations governing commercial use of drones, the FAA insists it has the authority to take enforcement actions against real estate agents and others using drones for profit. The FAA has issued cease-and-desist letters to alleged commercial drone operators, but it’s unclear if it would be able to collect fines against them.