FAA Announces Final Rules for Use of Drones on Film Sets

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced the final set of rules for the use of unmanned aircraft, or drones, on the sets of movies and TV shows.

The FAA in 2014 granted a waiver to a number of aerial photo and video companies to use drones, as it worked on a final set of regulations.

The rules apply to routine commercial use of unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds. In general, the drone must remain within the line of sight of the operator and “pilot.” It may operate only in daylight or twilight, and can go as high as 400 feet above ground level. The person flying a drone must have a remote pilot certificate with a small unmanned aircraft rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate.

“The FAA final rules will further enable the film and television industry to incorporate this innovative technology into great storytelling, while expanding opportunities for American workers and small businesses in the creative economy,” MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said in a statement. “It is also very gratifying for our industry that filmmakers were able to pave a path for the broader commercial use of” unmanned aircraft.

After the FAA green light in 2014, the first U.S.-based production to use drones was “The Mentalist,” shot in December of that year. Other projects that have used the unmanned aircraft include “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and HBO’s “The Leftovers.”

“With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”

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