Drones: Hollywood’s Requests for Regulatory Exemptions from the FAA Could Get UAS for Commercial Use Off the Ground

The lack of certainty regarding the use and regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is prompting companies to seek creative ways to get their drones off the ground. This week, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for regulatory exemptions that would permit them to use UAS in the film and television industry. Companies from other industries (including precision agriculture, power line and pipeline inspection, and oil and gas flare stack inspection) have stated intentions to file similar exemption requests. These requests represent another tool in industry’s battle with the FAA over its ban on commercial use of UAS.

Exemptions from What? In their petitions, the aerial filming companies request exemptions from Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the “Act”) and from portions of the Federal Aviation Regulations, specifically, the airworthiness certification requirements found in 14 C.F.R. § 91.203(a)(1). They also ask that the FAA grant them exemptions from regulations addressing flight rules and instructions, aircraft markings, flight altitudes, fuel requirements, maintenance inspections, commercial pilot license requirements and flight manuals.

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