Diet drones desirable: FAA considers fast-track approval of lightweight commercial UAVs


posted Monday, May 19, 2014 at 2:10 PM EDT


If you're a commercial photographer or videographer intrigued by the possibilities of aerial photography from a radio-controlled multicopter or other unmanned aerial vehicle, but you're worried that the FAA could choose you as its next legal target, there's potentially some good news on the way. According to a recent Bloomberg article, the US national aviation authority may be considering a scheme that would make it relatively quick and simple to get a permit allowing commercial UAV operations -- and the program could be up and running before the year is out.

Currently, commercial drone usage operates in something of a grey area. Although the FAA turns a blind eye towards noncommercial operations, it remains adamant that it has the right to police commercial drone users. If, like Raphael Pirker, you find yourself on the wrong end of a legal challenge from the FAA, you could end up expending a lot of time and money -- even if you eventually prevail. Not all of us have the stomach for that possibility, so right or wrong, the FAA's stance on drone usage is doubtless having a chilling effect on commercial drones.

Worry-free commercial usage of unmanned aerial vehicles such as this DJI Phantom Vision 2 could soon be possible, if the FAA's plans for a permit program go ahead.

Now, Bloomberg suggests that the FAA is working with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on a plan that would see it approve permits -- albeit on a limited basis -- for a range of commercial drone usage including film making. There's a catch, but it's an understandable one, given that the FAA is tasked with promoting safety, among other goals. The permits would only be granted for drone systems weighing 55 pounds (25kg) or less.

A proposal is expected by this November. Should it happen, you can expect to hear about it on our news page. Read more from Bloomberg's article here.