US FAA considers permitting the use of drones for filming movies

Seven aerial photo and video production companies have filed for permission to use drones

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is considering exemptions that will allow the use of drones for filming movies.

Seven aerial photo and video production companies have asked for regulatory exemptions to use the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for the film and television industry, the FAA said Monday.

The exemption, if granted, will however be on a case-to-case basis and a far cry from the industry demand for 'open skies' for commercial drones.

Already and other companies have said that they plan to use drones for commercial purposes such as delivery of packages. Amazon said last year that the launch of its Prime Air service, powered by drones, would depend on rules for civilian unmanned aircraft from the FAA, which it expects by 2015.

"If the exemption requests are granted, there could be tangible economic benefits as the agency begins to address the demand for commercial UAS operations," FAA said in a statement. It said companies from three other industries, including precision agriculture, power line and pipeline inspection and oil and gas flare stack inspection, have approached the FAA and are also considering filing exemption requests.

The petitioners must still obtain operational approval from the FAA. The Motion Picture Association of America has described the UAS as a "new tool for storytellers" that will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots. MPAA said its members had worked with some of the applicants during overseas shoots.

FAA waivers or authorizations for UAS are currently available to public entities that want to fly a drone in civil airspace for purposes such as law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, military training, and other government missions.

Commercial operations are authorized on a case-by-case basis, FAA said. Except for flights over the Artic, other commercial UAS flights have not been authorized so far.

The issue is, however, not without controversy. The FAA said in February that "there are no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft--manned or unmanned--in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval." The agency has said that the operational and certification requirements for the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace will be set not later than Dec. 31, 2015.

An administrative law judge of the National Transportation Safety Board ruled in the case of photographer Raphael Pirker, who was fined US$10,000 by the FAA in October 2011 for flying recklessly a powered glider aircraft, that existing policy regarding the commercial use of drones, "cannot be considered as establishing a rule or enforceable regulation."

As the classification of UAS does not appear in the Federal Aviation Regulations, it is necessary to examine the FAA policy for the existence of a rule imposing regulatory authority concerning UAS operations, Judge Patrick G. Geraghty wrote in his ruling in March. The FAA has appealed the ruling to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the board rules.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular sciencee-commerceU.S. Federal Aviation AdministrationMotion Picture Association of Americainternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on PC World

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?