Some Good News for Photographers and Filmmakers Who Use Drones
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has been pressing the FAA to ease commercial-use restrictions for professional photographers who wish to use UAVs in their work. The organization is optimistic we are getting close to a new FAA ruling that will allow select industries to operate RC and autonomous aircraft legally, among them filmmaking and certain types of photography, farming, and smokestack inspection.
This does not mean carte blanche license to fly. A number of limitations will be enforced, including a maximum weight of less than 55 lb, that visual line-of-sight (VLOS) be maintained, and that the vehicle not be operated above any persons who are not part of the operation—i.e., random members of the public. Additionally, it looks like some form of licensing and testing for the pilot/operator will be required, though my impression is this will not be as stringent as a license to fly "full scale", manned aircraft.
Many of these details are expected to be hashed out in meetings this week. Hopefully, quite soon we will have a much clearer picture of where the professional light-UAV operator stands, legally.