FAA Grants UAV Exemptions for Motion Picture Companies

By By Mark Colborn, UAV contributor | September 29, 2014
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Six unmanned aerial system (UAS) motion picture companies recently convinced the FAA that they could safely film TV and movie scenes with drones. The FAA granted numerous exemptions to Part 21 and 91 regulations. Airworthiness certification processes were waived and an “on-demand” maintenance schedule was accepted. Each company was required to submit both a detailed Motion Picture and Television Operators Manual and Flight Operations Procedures Manual. With the film industry blazing the trail, proponents see this as a positive step by the FAA that will lead to broader commercial use of UAS’s in the U.S.

The companies will be limited to the particular model of UAS they originally petitioned the FAA to fly. The machine must weigh less than 55 pounds, be operated no higher than 400 ft. AGL, and remain in visual line-of-sight at all times. The drone cannot be flown faster than 50 knots. The drone will also display a serial number and an “N” number in as large as practicable markings. The drone operator, or pilot-in-command (PIC), will be required to possess a Private Pilot’s Certificate and a valid third-class medical certificate, and meet all flight review requirements. For motion picture filming, the PIC must have a spotter or visual observer. The FAA also surprisingly added flight time requirements for the PIC; 200 flight cycles and 25 hours, 10 hours in type, and five hours and three takeoff and landings within the preceding 90 days. Flights during productions must be conducted 500 ft. away from non-participants. Operations can be conducted closer to participants on closed sets if it can be done safely.

For an entire list of FAA motion picture UAS exemptions please visit:


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