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FAA approves eight drone requests

By Alton K. March, AOPA

Eight more requests to operate drones (sorry, unmanned aircraft systems) have been granted by the FAA, although UAS must be operated by a pilot with a minimum of a private pilot certificate and current medical plus a second person, an observer who can sound the alarm about errant UAS. The craft must remain in sight at all times.

The FAA has 342 requests for exemptions to current restrictions prohibiting UAS flights for commercial purposes. The FAA also expanded a previous exemption granted to Pictorvision and Aerial MOB allowing use of additional types of unmanned aircraft. Thus far, 24 exemptions have been granted, but FAA officials won’t say when new all-encompassing rules will be released even when asked by members of Congress.

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–>Pictorvision is in Van Nuys, California, and offers gyro-stabilized camera systems flown by conventional aircraft and helicopters in addition to UAS. The company claims it was first to offer such services although Clay Lacy might disagree, having pioneered aerial movie photography. Aerial Mob of Carlsbad, California, offers similar services and sells custom-designed UAS and equipment. It claims to have led the lobbying for use of UAS in the movie industry. Companies based in Van Nuys, California, did well in this latest round of approvals. Three of the approvals are for essentially one company.

Joining them under the new exemptions are Total Safety U.S. Inc. of Houston for flare stack inspections at oil refineries; LikeonaTree Aerial (also known as Slugwear) of Seattle that, among other surveys, wants to document the need for new highways in the Seattle-Tacoma area; Team 5 LLC of Van Nuys (that only applied as recently as Sept. 29, 2014) to serve the movie and television industry; Shotover Camera Systems of Van Nuys that “captures aerial footage for Hollywood blockbusters”; Helinet Aviation Services of Van Nuys that provides helicopter services and acquired Shotover Camera Systems in December 2012; and Alan D. Purwin who is co-founder and president of Helinet Aviation. A helicopter pilot, he worked on Transformers, Armageddon, and Tropic Thunder in the past, and on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Warcraft that will both be released in 2016. He worked on five movies for 2015, including Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Straight Outta Compton, Entourage, Furious 7, and Insurgent.

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