The FAA announced on June 2 that seven aerial photo and video production companies are seeking regulatory exemptions that would allow the film and television industry to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for the first time. If the requests, which are supported by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), are granted, there could be useful economic benefits as the agency begins to address the demand for commercial UAS operations and how to balance them with safety concerns. The companies that filed petitions are independent aerial cinematography specialists that collectively developed the exemption requests in the hope of convincing the FAA that their use of UAS can be safe.
Companies from three other industries also have approached the FAA about filing exemption requests. These firms are asking for exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates. Under section 333, certain airworthiness requirements can be waived to let specific UAS fly safely in narrowly defined, controlled and low-risk applications. To receive the exemptions, the firms must show that their UAS operations will not adversely affect safety, or provide a level of safety at least equal to that provided by the rules from which they seek exemption.
A commercial UAS flight requires a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval.