I saw your article on drone photography in Philadelphia. Are you and Philly By Air aware that these pictures are taken in very restricted Class B Airspace? This is prohibited by FAA regulation.
I am a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) operator in the Philadelphia area. I have a FAA 333 exemption to shoot with UAVs. It requires me to abide by strict FAA rules. I hold a commercial helicopter and fixed wing rating. (A pilot’s license is required to get the exemption.) You need this to fly commercially anywhere in the U.S.
I doubt if Matt [Satell of Philly By Air] has that exemption. [Editor’s note: Satell told us that he’s in the process of getting his exemption, but currently partners up with someone who has it.]
In fairness, by publicizing outfits like this, you’re doing your viewers a disservice. Drones (UAVs) get bad publicity because operators violate the airspace creating problems for those of us abiding by the rules. They are unfair competition, fly in dangerous airspace, risk safety in the skies, and cause injury to innocent people on the ground.
If you want to do an objective story on the use of drones for commercial use, do a piece with people flying legally and under the rules the FAA has set up for safe commercial use. Confirm that any story you do on this subject is with people qualified and legally authorized to operate.
UAV’s will be a multibillion-dollar industry. They will save lives by finding people trapped in disasters like floods and fires. They will aid law enforcement by going into dangerous areas. They will help the ecology in agriculture by pinpointing crop damage. They will save money by spotting bridge fractures at early stages, prevent risks by surveying mines and pipelines, allow movie producer to create great shots safely and at lower cost than full size helicopters. This is an industry literally just getting off the ground.
It’s an exciting area. It can have more effect on peoples lives, their entertainment, their pocketbook. The important idea is to make sure they’re used properly and safely by operators who work by the rules, and these should be the people you highlight. The public is very interested in this new technology. Let’s not promote those who will give the industry a black eye, especially at this early stage of development.
Keep up the good work in your stories, but make sure you confirm the credentials of the people you highlight.
FAA Exemption #11809
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