FAA Exploring Expanded Drone Uses

This includes working with CNN to examine use for newsgathering in populated areas.
Carolyn Giardina

More news for drone-enthusiasts came out of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday: The FAA announced several partnerships aimed at expanding the potential use of these unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including one with CNN, which will look at how drones might be used safely for visual line-of-sight flights in populated areas, particularly for newsgathering.

Additionally, the FAA plans to work with UAS manufacturer PrecisionHawk to examine extended visual line-of-sight operations in rural areas. for crop monitoring in agriculture operations; and BNSF Railroad, to explore beyond visual line-of-sight operation in rural/isolated areas
, potentially to inspect rail system infrastructure.

The FAA published proposed rules for small UAS in February, and Wednesday’s news represents further efforts to expand the potential use. Hollywood is interested in mounting cameras to drones for feature and TV production.

Also on Wednesday, the FAA introduced a smartphone app called B4UFLY, designed to help model aircraft and UAS users know if it is safe and legal to fly in their planned location. The app is being testing, and is expected to be available later in the year.

New research from the Consumer Electronics Association projects that the United States will reach 1 million drone flights per day within the next 20 years. It also forecasts that the global market for consumer drones will approach $130 million in revenue in 2015, increasing by more than 50 percent from 2014.