Why The FAA Allows Choice Production Companies To Fly Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration says choice production companies can fly unmanned drones without an FAA certificate as long as they play it safe.

Why The FAA Allows Choice Production Companies To Fly Drones
Getty Images / Brendon Thorne

The Federal Aviation Administration now allows six production companies to fly unmanned drones within the United States, without the need for an FAA airworthiness certificate.

According to an FAA press release, production companies would be required to prove their operations were safe in order to receive exemptions. To abide, the companies said their drone pilots would have private pilot certificates, keep the drone within their line of sight, and only fly the aircraft on the company's closed set. The FAA then added rules requiring inspection before flight, and no flying at night. 

The release notes the Motion Picture Association of America represented the production companies in requesting the exemptions. Now, while it might seem the entertainment industry is getting special treatment, the release also points out the FAA is currently reviewing 40 exemption requests "from other commercial entities."

That might not come as much of a surprise — you're talking about an industry that brought in $31 billion in revenues in 2013.

Several outlets have pointed out the FAA's move makes sense, based solely on the fact many production companies already use unmanned drones for capturing footage ... in countries where it's legal. The ruling will make things a bit more convenient for the film industry.

The Washington Post says this is "the first time the agency has granted a commercial entity an exemption from the rules" on U.S. drone use. The writer suggests this could be a boon for safety in the entertainment industry: "Using drones may actually boost safety on the set, compared to shooting film from a helicopter or other large, flying metal object."

And we can't forget companies like Amazon, Google, and now DHL are all interested in drone delivery. With the biggest movers and shakers in various industries pushing for regulation exemptions, we'll likely see the FAA ease up on its restrictions. (Video via Amazon)

In the meantime, the FAA says it is working toward a regulatory framework for small unmanned drones, which will be released for public comment "later this year."

This video includes images from Getty Images.