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Businesses Government United States

FAA Clears Movie and TV Drones For Takeoff 50

alphadogg (971356) writes "The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is taking its first major step toward opening up the skies for commercial drone use, allowing six TV and movie production companies to use drones to shoot video. Commercial flight of drones has been effectively banned by the FAA as it grapples with how to integrate drone traffic into controlled airspace while not compromising the safety of existing air traffic. But as the months have passed, it has come under increasing pressure from U.S. companies to make a ruling."
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FAA Clears Movie and TV Drones For Takeoff

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  • I get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @04:50PM (#47997991)
    Oh, I get it. They finally made a centralized policy for drone use.
    Individual - OH HELL NO!
    Commercial - How much lobbying money do you have?
    • Re:I get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:25PM (#47998237)
      Keep it under about 200', and away from airports and you are free to move about the country. RC models have been operating under these conditions for a long time. So individuals CAN operate drones NOW as a hobby. What is being limited in COMMERCIAL use of drones, and drones that impact existing air traffic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, that's the arguably the biggest problem here. The FAA was directed to develop a policy for commercial drones, and it's initial reaction was to determine, without any sort of rule making process, that drones that followed the model rules were not in fact models, and attempt to prohibit any sort of autonomous flight whatsoever. A couple months back they were even saying that first person view direct remote control under model rules was unacceptable, and still claiming that no rule making was requi

        • Actually, that's the arguably the biggest problem here. The FAA was directed to develop a policy for commercial drones, and it's initial reaction was to determine, without any sort of rule making process, that drones that followed the model rules were not in fact models, and attempt to prohibit any sort of autonomous flight whatsoever. A couple months back they were even saying that first person view direct remote control under model rules was unacceptable, and still claiming that no rule making was required.

          For Commercial operations yes, the FAA has totally banned drones for commercial use (until now)... Hobby use, not so much. Where the FAA technically governs anything from the ground up outside a building, they've never really handed out regulations for individual private hobby flying toys and I doubt they care about them as long as they don't interfere with manned flight operations.

          It's the same sort of thing they do for ultralights. Keep the aircraft under a specified weight and out of controlled airspac

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So what you are saying is, screw small business...

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        I believe that they must also have a line of sight to the pilot. That's a big problem.

    • Bingo. Innovation X is banned for everybody but Hollywood. Didn't see that coming! /s
    • I have repeated this here so many times now I've lost count.

      A Federal judge ruled a few months ago that the FAA has no authority EXCEPT in controlled airspace. And "controlled" airspace isn't most or even much of the air around us.

      The FAA's authority is derived from INTERSTATE TRAVEL AND COMMERCE. Anything else is none of its business.

      If you aren't sending your drone commercially across State lines, or invading controlled airspace, they have no legal basis for "regulating" you.

      The FAA has appeal
  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:04PM (#47998105) Homepage

    After all, TV shows are way more important than structural evaluations, aerial photography for site planning, roof inspections, and the myriad other commercial applications that are actually useful and safer than the way we currently do it. Sigh.

    • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:37PM (#47998329) Journal

      After all, TV shows are way more important than structural evaluations, aerial photography for site planning, roof inspections, and the myriad other commercial applications that are actually useful and safer than the way we currently do it. Sigh.

      Not to mention they grounded search & rescue drones. http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

      It's obvious it's all about the money, not about anything else.

    • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @06:28PM (#47998639)

      Indeed. Crop inspection drones are my favorite poster child for this. If a corn farmer in Iowa wants to fly a drone at 50 feet above his own farm consisting of 1200 contiguous acres of crops, I don't see how that in any way could be dangerous to anyone or anything. But the movie companies have lots of money to spend on lobbying and political donations.

  • #Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Libertarian_Geek ( 691416 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:07PM (#47998121)
    So, the left leaning (Hollywood production) companies get a benefit from the executive branch that other companies do not.
    • Re:#Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MondoGordo ( 2277808 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:16PM (#47998185)
      no ... the money gets the honey, bunny! It has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with what politicians you own.
      • no ... the money gets the honey, bunny! It has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with what politicians you own.

        In the long-run, yes. You're absolutely right. In the short-run, it's the ones currently in office returning the favor to those that got them there.
        Money and political ideology are inseparable in modern politics. Big oil feeds one. Big media feeds the other.

  • Disclaimer: I'm a Glider Pilot in Europe. I haven't yet seen a drone that actually operates autnonmously. What I mean by that, is active collision avoidance according to sensory input. Judging by the amount of noise complaints we get at every airfield in europe.. i doubt people will be very happy to have 100s of drones flying over their heads in the cities. Certification will not make halt in front of these drones. All equipment in aircraft must be certified. This requirement will still be there if you w
    • Anti-icing technology? I don't know what you guys are doing with your drones in Europe, but over here we don't put frosting on ours.

      • thought i made a spelling mistake, but at least Wikipedia agrees with me. Winter does bad things to aircraft. ;-) ice accumulates at the leading edge of wings and props, until the profile is no longer generating lift. That is why most aircraft have heating in the wings leading edge and mechanical deformation to break of the ice.
        • thought i made a spelling mistake, but at least Wikipedia agrees with me. Winter does bad things to aircraft. ;-) ice accumulates at the leading edge of wings and props, until the profile is no longer generating lift. That is why most aircraft have heating in the wings leading edge and mechanical deformation to break of the ice.

          Actually, usually only larger aircraft have deicing capacity. Most private airplanes have none beyond heat for the airspeed probe.

          Commercial aircraft carry it only for convenience because the flying rules state that you cannot fly into known icing conditions without it. They take it along so they can more easily make their schedule and not have to fly around stuff.

          Finally, I'd like to point out that there are multiple kinds of deicing setups and what you describe is pretty much how the low end stuff wor

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @05:26PM (#47998245)

    Forget you amateur scum that are not with movie studios, how many votes can you bring? How many weeping melodramas showing how evil "The Others" are can you produce?

  • All this drone stuff will be fine until one manages to crash into an airliner, bringing it down. Then the FAA will be swamped with people demanding to know why the drones were allowed in the first place.
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @06:35PM (#47998681)

      All this drone stuff will be fine until one manages to crash into an airliner, bringing it down. Then the FAA will be swamped with people demanding to know why the drones were allowed in the first place.

      Which is also true of traditional RC aircraft, which have been flown for decades - with plenty of opportunities to get up into the path of full-scale aircraft. The carnage has been incredible, one plane after the next falling out of the sky.

      The problem isn't going to be people shooting crop health, checking their gutters, doing an aerial during a TV shoot, or getting real estate photos. The problem is going to be malicious users. Just like wrong-headed people who choose to be malicious with lead pipes, shotguns, or kitchen knives.

      A bunch of laws telling law abiding people not to fly their camera robot over 400' will mean exactly nothing to someone who doesn't care about laws.

      • Typical RC planes can only be flown within a short distance of the field, otherwise you can't see what direction you're flying and you lose the plane.
        • Typical RC planes can only be flown within a short distance of the field

          People have been playing with long-range RC for many years.

          And there have been various autopilots, orientation tools, and FPV-style links for a long time. Greatly predating the kids-with-multirotors era.

  • ... these guys are professionals at stunts and stuff. Let the pros experience, and absorb the consequences and work the bugs out for the rest of us.

    Appreciate that these things aren't really, "drones," they are "model airplanes."

    It's going to be a boon to FAA bureaucracy and a great venture to tax.

  • Maybe they made a reasonable application to the FAA and were given authorization to use drones. Filming a movie or TV show has a few aspects that is very different than a general approval;
    - The drone will operate close to the ground so It can film actors so no interaction with other aircraft.
    - All people being filmed will be associated with the filming so no privacy issues.
    - The area being filmed will be under the control of the company so no privacy issues
    - There will be no other drone permits in the area

    • There will be no other drone permits in the area so no interaction with other company's drones.

      I am not sure I read anything that prevents a leasure user from flying his or her drones into the airspace being used by a movie or TV production. In fact, somebody playing around with a drone they got off eBay or Amazon has less regulation to worry about and/or probably doesn't know what the rules are anyway. And what better place to play with it than the set of Batman 8 or Transformers 891?

      Productions are going to probably notice rogue private drones but even if they don't LIKE it, I am not sure they

  • There should first be good standards for collision avoidance.

    For example:
    If every drone observes a minimum distance from any other drone (measured e.g. using radio waves) then each drone behaves like a giant "beach ball", that bounces off other drones.

    If a commonly respected system like this is not mandatory, then we'll end up with potentially hazardous situation.

  • Can hardly turn on a "reality" TV show these days without some shots clearly from some kind of drone. This camera work has been going on for years, quietly.

    Goofball shows like Gold Rush even worked the camera drone into an epsiode -they used a blimp drone but it was still a drone and still used for filming, albeit to wimpy effect. I saw a show the other day, clearly shot IN the US which used a drone for a nice swooping panorama -I wish I could remember which one it was. And I remember thinking, this sho

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