After putting money behind the push for revamped commercial drone laws, Hollywood is officially petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration to let filmmakers fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) before final rules are put in place. Seven aerial production companies have requested an exemption from flight regulations, pilot licensing requirements, and airworthiness certification rules, none of which have been finalized. FAA rules allow the agency to grant exemptions for “narrowly-defined, controlled, low-risk situations,” and film and video companies hope that includes using low-cost drones for shots that would otherwise require a helicopter.
“Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming,” says Neil Fried of the MPAA, which facilitated the petition. “This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots, and is the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience.” In order to actually get the exemptions, however, the companies must prove that their plan would benefit the public good, and that it would not create unsafe conditions. If the FAA approves those exemptions, it will still need to approve individual operations.