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The FAA has granted six aerial photo and video operators’ permission to use small unmanned aircraft (UAVs) for filming on closed sets through a process the agency says provides a model for early approval of commercial UAVs for other applications.
According to AviationWeek, the six operators applied for exemptions to the ban on flying commercial UAVs in national airspace in petitions coordinated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
According to administrator Michael Huerta, the FAA is still working to approve a seventh operator. “Film-industry operations have been authorized under Section 333 of the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation, which allows the agency to grant regulatory exemptions for tightly controlled, low-risk operations,” Huerta explains.
The exemptions allow operators to fly a UAV without an airworthiness certificate within the sterile airspace of a closed set, using a certified pilot with a private pilot’s license and keeping the vehicle within line of sight of the operator.
Additionally, says Huerta, the FAA has required the UAV be inspected before each flight and any accidents or incidents to be reported to the agency. The FAA has also prohibited night operations, but will revisit this if the industry proposes additional safety controls, he says.