UAS Operators Press FAA On Exemptions

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The aviation world may have adapted to the FAA's glacial pace of rulemaking, but commercial operators who see profit potential in drones are looking for ways to move things along. This week, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked the FAA to grant exemptions that would let them get to work. The Motion Picture Association of America facilitated the exemption requests from independent aerial cinematography professionals. The operators have asked the FAA to grant exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates, and airworthiness certification requirements. The FAA said "all the associated safety issues must be carefully considered … [and] the petitioner must still obtain operational approval from the FAA."

Companies also are eager to use unmanned aerial systems for agriculture, powerline and pipeline inspection, and oil and gas flare stack inspection, the FAA said. Representatives from those industries have approached the FAA and are considering filing exemption requests. To receive the exemptions, the firms must show that their UAS operations will not adversely affect safety, or provide at least an equal level of safety to the rules from which they seek exemption. They would also need to show why granting the exemption would be in the public interest. The FAA is working toward proposing rules for UAS operations by next year.