CNN Drone Waiver Paves Path for Wider Use over People

 - October 31, 2017, 11:42 AM
The FAA has issued a waiver that allows CNN to operate a Vantage Robotics Snap sUAS, which has caged rotors, over open-air assemblies up to altitudes of 150 feet agl. This waiver conceivably paves the way for the wider use of sUAS aircraft at large sporting and entertainment events. (Photo: Vantage Robotics)

The Cable News Network (CNN) was granted its third FAA Part 107 waiver to conduct unmanned aircraft operations over human beings earlier this month. Terms of the latest FAR 107.39 waiver allow CNN to operate a Vantage Robotics Snap sUAS, which has caged rotors, over open-air assemblies up to altitudes of 150 feet agl.

This waiver conceivably paves the way for the wider use of sUAS aircraft at large sporting and entertainment events. FAR 107.39 provides that no person may operate unmanned aircraft over humans unless they are direct participants in the operation of said aircraft or located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft.

To date, only CNN, FLIR and Project Wing have received FAR 107.39 waivers. CNN received its first subpart waiver in August 2016 as part of the FAA's Pathfinder Program, and that waiver included an altitude limit of 21 feet agl and prohibited flight over open-air assemblies. CNN’s second such waiver allowed overflight of only direct participants and authorized persons. The subpart waiver granted to Project Wing last month is directed to transient delivery/delivery experiment flights and requires that the aircraft maintain a minimum of 10 feet from any non-participant.