26 Oct 2017

CNN Receives FAA Approval to Fly Over People

The news network has received a waiver from Part 107, that is the first of its kind, which will allow it to fly a UAV over people. It is the first time that real-world UAV operations will be allowed to take place above people.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com


The waiver allows CNN to fly UAVs in a range of environments, including operations over open-air assemblies of people, up to an altitude of 150 feet above ground level, instead of 21 feet, while they are also exempt from the condition of being teheteredto a physical object or person. Although CNN has other, similar waivers from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allow it to fly drones in unpopulated areas, this new waiver represents a much bigger step.

“This waiver signifies a critical step forward not only for CNN’s UAS operations, but also the commercial UAS industry at large,” said David Vigilante, SVP of Legal for CNN.  “We are truly grateful to the FAA for allowing CNN to demonstrate its continued commitment to safe UAS operations.”

Currently, companies must seek case-by-case approval from the FAA to fly drones over people’s heads, at night, and beyond the line of sight of their pilots. The FAA has granted some companies like CNN waivers allowing them to fly drones over people, but those waivers were limited, said Lisa Ellman, a Hogan Lovells lawyer who advised CNN.

Other companies may also be able to benefit from this waiver, such as Amazon. The retail giant is exploring the use of UAVs to deliver goods to people, and flying over populated areas would help streamline that process. Inspections of homes for damages, such as in areas that have just been struck by natural disasters is another area that may benefit.

CNN still has to remain aware of local rules governing drone use, and defer to them where they conflict with the FAA, particularly on issues relating to people’s privacy.


References:    CNN       Fortune   


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