Multiple reports suggest the Federal Aviation Administration will begin issuing drone-operating permits to filmmakers. The Associated Press, Washington Post, and Forbes report the FAA is expected to announce the permits on Thursday, citing current and former governmental officials, attorneys, and a company familiar with the matter. The permits will likely include stipulations, such as operation by a three-person crew, including a trained drone operator, and only on closed sets.
In a major decision that is likely to set the stage for more commercial drone flights, the Federal Aviation Administration is planning to announce Thursday that it will permit Hollywood filmmakers to operate drones on movie sets, according to current and former U.S. officials. The FAA has long enforced a de facto ban on the use of drones for commercial purposes. But under a 2012 law passed by Congress, the agency is developing rules that will eventually legalize the practice and allow drones of all sizes to operate in the national airspace. Prior to this week, the FAA had granted permits to only two companies to fly drones — both in remote parts of Alaska under highly restrictive conditions. The decision to allow several movie-making companies to use drones is the first time that businesses will be able to operate the aircraft in populated areas. The FAA has been evaluating applications since May from seven video-production firms that want to use camera-equipped drones on movie sets instead of regular helicopters or airplanes, which are more costly to operate.