UAV Association Urges FAA to 'Promptly' Allow Drone Use in Movie Production

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems submitted official comments saying FAA should grant exemption for filmmaking and "get on with rule making."
Phil Bray Courtesy of Millenium Films

The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International is getting behind Hollywood's bid to use drones — also called Unmanned Vehicle Systems, or UAVs — in film and TV production. The association has submitted official comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation asserting that "The Federal Aviation Administration should promptly grant [a production] exemption request, look for ways to allow for more commercial use of very small UAS immediately and get on with rule making."

While opinions vary, there's a growing number from Hollywood's production community who argue that filming with cameras mounted on drones could result in new creative options, cost savings and possibly safer sets.

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But currently federal law prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft — in filming or any other use — in U.S. airspace. To conduct a commercial operation such as filmmaking with an unmanned aircraft, users need a certified aircraft, licensed pilot and FAA approval.

In May, the FAA announced that it would consider granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS applications under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 — exemptions that would allow some industries to fly before the finalization of a small UAS rule (which according to FAA spokesperson Les Dorr is expected to be later this year). The FAA then received requests for exemptions from seven aerial production companies.

"Although AUVSI applauds the FAA's efforts to consider UAS exemption requests AUVSI remains concerned the FAA is more than three years late in issuing safety regulations for the widespread commercial use of small UAS," AUVSI wrote in its comments.

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AUVSI also wrote: "The seven production companies seeking exemptions have outlined at least an equivalent level of safety over the use of a manned aircraft and have adequately addressed the safety requirements in a number of federal aviation regulations. In fact, the use of small UAS will likely lead to increased safety over manned aircraft and allow production companies to get new shots that have never before been possible.

"Accelerating commercial UAS use will not only help businesses harness the tremendous potential of UAS, they will also help unlock the economic impact and job creation potential of the technology."

Outside of the U.S., drones have been used on productions including Game of Thrones and upcoming Expendables 3.

Twitter: @CGinLA