Developments in Commercial Use

CNN and the FAA have announced a joint agreement to further research the use of UAV for news gathering purposes.  The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement will integrate the work into existing research at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.  It does not appear that CNN is able to actively use UAV for news gathering – this is a step in the process toward the FAA understanding the impact of UAVs in media and it will influence their rule making as it applies to media use of UAV.   There is not a lot of detail available about the agreement, but it looks to build on joint research between CNN and Georgia Tech that began this past summer.  The article notes at least one other university that received a C&D letter for its Drone Journalism program, so this is progress.

Last night, a UAV was present on the red carpet of the Golden Globes. This was not authorized by the FAA!  DJI, the maker of the Phantom, is arguing that is was not commercial because they gave the UAV for use free of charge.  However, I do not think the FAA will agree with that interpretation since they have stated that anything other than recreational or hobby use is prohibited without an exemption.  While no cash was exchanged, one doesn’t need to look hard to see that this was not for recreational purposes.  Everyone involved got a lot of free advertising out of it.  Interestingly, I spent a good part of the day researching “commercial use” for other purposes, so I’ll be interested to see how the FAA responds.
Phantom at the Golden Globes
I would also like to update a post from the other day based on new information.  I heard back from Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management.  There is no blanket ban on UAVs within Rhode Island State Parks.  However, one is required to obtain permission from the Park Facility Manager before using en “engine powered model plane.”  (Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations §3.3). While one can get into a philosophical discussion regarding the definition of “engine,”  it is being interpreted to include electric motors.  The Deputy Chief who responded to me stated that he is not aware of any written permission being granted.
I also saw that a user was sent an official warning for using his UAV in a National Wildlife Refuge.  What is interesting in that the ban was not clearly marked and that the Fish and Wildlife Service investigated after-the fact upon the report from a third party.