Drones have been on everyone’s mind for a while now, especially given the recent rulings and rumors that have trickled down from the FAA. In our efforts to keep you up to date with whats going on we spoke with Attorney Lisa Ellman once more about some updates on the matter, including a deal between CNN and the FAA, a couple of recent exemptions and how the FAA is telling law enforcement to handle illegal drone flying.
First off, Ellman informed us that CNN and the FAA reached a deal that allows CNN to research drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/UAVs) in the field of their news gathering as part of their months long research project with the Georgia Institute of Technology. More specifically, the “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” allows CNN “to advance efforts to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into news gathering and reporting,” giving CNN the opportunity to show the FAA how various aspects of drone usage should be regulated or treated. This marks a great step forward for drone usage in general, especially for journalism, and indicates a distinct effort on the side of the FAA to really get involved in the truth of the matter so they may make policy decisions fairly and safely.
Secondly, there were another two exemptions granted to allow a couple of companies use drones in their work, making a total of 14 exemptions granted of more than 200 exemption requests that have been filed. Though that ratio seems low compared to the number of requests, keep in mind that the process of obtaining one is lengthy and involved. One must provide what drone they’ll be using, under what company they’ll be flying for, and more. In addition a review of the airspace in which the drone will operate is required, and the drone itself must remain below 400 feet and be within eyesight at all times. As for the exemption recipients, one is Tuscon realty company Tierra Antigua Realty and the other is Advanced Aviation Solutions of Spokane, Washington. They were granted their exemptions because “they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security” according to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Lastly, the FAA provided a guide to law enforcement agencies in the country, instructing them on how to determine illegal drone usage, as well as how to go about stopping illegal activity. The 12 page guide is quite detailed, however here are some highlights:
Ellman also informed us that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is still reviewing the FAA’s proposed ruling on drone usage, and that it will likely be 2017 before any final ruling would take place. She stresses that, though you can file for a 333 Exemption on your own, you’d be much better off retaining an attorney to help navigate the tedious process. Ellman also clarifies that simply getting a 333 Exemption does not give you free reign to start flying, reiterating the guidelines above, as well as mentioning that you need to inform those in the area of your intent to fly a drone, for what reason and the times you’ll be doing so.
Ellman’s law firm has a fantastic blog with constant updates on drone legislation as they continue to work with the FAA on the matter. You can find it at www.PlanelySpokenBlog.com
As for the individual stories above, here are the links to the FAA press releases and other stories about them:
CNN/FAA Research Agreement – Politico.com
Two New Exemption Recipients – FAA News & Updates
FAA’s Guide To Law Enforcement of Drones – FAA News & Updates