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Movie industry to get UAV approval: FAA

September 25, 2014  By The Associated Press

Sept. 25, 2014, Washington, D.C. - The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to announce Thursday that it is granting permits to seven movie and television production companies to fly drones, an important step toward greater use of the technology by commercial operators, said attorneys and a company official familiar with the decision.

However, the permits are expected to come with limitations, including
that the unmanned aircraft be used only on closed sets and that they be
operated by a three-person team, including a trained drone operator.

Until now, the only permit for commercial
drone operations the FAA has granted has been to the Conoco Phillips
oil company, which has flown two kinds of unmanned aircraft in
unpopulated areas of Alaska and over the Arctic Ocean with significant
limitations on their use.

The FAA is under intense
pressure from Congress and a plethora of industries that want to use the
technology or sell it to others to relax its ban on commercial drone
use. Companies want to use drones to monitor pipelines, inspect the
undersides of oil platforms and bridges, and spray crops.

Amazon and
Google want to use them to deliver packages. Wedding videographers, real
estate agents, journalists and other many others are clamouring to use
them as well.


The seven movie and television companies
are regarded by agencies as trailblazers, the first of what are likely
to be dozens of industries that could be approved in coming months for
drone operations under limited circumstances.

"The floodgates will open and we'll see
all kinds of other entities looking to use these things," said Lisa
Ellman, an attorney with McKenna, Long & Aldridge who formerly
headed the Justice Department's working group on drone policy

But Brendan Schulman, a
New York attorney who presents several drone operators and interest
groups that have challenged the FAA's drone restrictions, said he is
concerned that limitations attached to the drone permits may be so
onerous that the benefits of using the drones will be outweighed by the
cost and the headache of complying with regulations.

"I'm worried that it's too small a step forward and it's too narrowly limited," he said.

The seven companies — Aerial MOB LLC,
Astraeus Aerial, Flying-Cam Inc., HeliVideo Productions LLC, Pictorvision Inc., Vortex Aerial and Snaproll Media LLC — have been
working with the Motion Picture Association of America for two years to
win FAA approval.

Tony Carmean, a partner in
Aerial MOB of San Diego, predicted drones will fundamentally change
moviemaking, providing directors with the ability to get shots they
could never get before and making films more dynamic. Small drones with
video cameras will be able to fly through a building and in and out of
windows, for example, he said.

Major movie studios "want their hands on
this right away," but have held off using the technology until the FAA
gives the go-ahead, he said.


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