FAA rules and regulations surrounding drone flights are pretty stringent but CNN has managed to land a Part 107 waiver. In order to fly a UAS (unmanned aircraft system) over a crowd of people, you need special approval from the FAA. Of course, that doesn’t stop many from flying their UAS over crowds and people but the law is still in place. CNN is in a much different position where their footage would most likely be seen by FAA officials, so they have to obey those laws.
Now CNN has announced a “first-of-its-kind” Part 107 waiver issued to them by the FAA. This waiver will allow CNN to fly their UAS (Vantage Robotics Snap Drone) over people for news gathering purposes. The waiver allows operations over open-air assemblies (crowds) of people, up to an altitude of 150 feet above ground level (AGL).
“This waiver signifies a critical step forward not only for CNN’s UAS operations, but also the commercial UAS industry at large,” said David Vigilante, SVP of Legal for CNN. “We are truly grateful to the FAA for allowing CNN to demonstrate its continued commitment to safe UAS operations.”
“We are delighted that the FAA has granted CNN a waiver that has a meaningful and practical application to our newsgathering operations,” said Greg Agvent, Senior Director of National Newsgathering Technology and CNN AIR. “We believe that this waiver is scalable and usable across industries, and therefore represents significant progress for the commercial UAS industry as a whole.”
The Snap drone is fairly small and with its enclosed blades should pose a minimal threat to people should it malfunction and fall into the crowd. The bigger story is that CNN is the first to be granted this waiver which is a big deal for them. The broader question is how does the general public feel about CNN being granted permission to fly and film over people.
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