If you weren’t already aware, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes it pretty difficult for any commercial/hobbyist drone pilot to legally fly for any purpose in heavily populated areas. The reason why it’s so difficult is due to specific restrictions to flying in airspace designated for large airplanes.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty on this one, but in order to legally fly a drone for paid video production, a UAS (unmanned aircraft system) drone pilot must obtain Commercial Registration for his/her drone and obtain an FAA Part 107 Certification from any FAA registered testing center. (We are both registered and licensed to use our drone commercially.)
Upon Registration and Certification, a pilot must also obtain airspace clearance if he/she intends to fly in airspace restricted due to heavy traffic or unauthorized clearance.
I’ve turned down NUMEROUS jobs because airspace clearance had been so difficult to receive from the FAA. We’re talking a 90 day waiting list in order to even have your request responded to difficult.
But alas! The FAA has really stepped up in the clutch and introduced a brand new service for drone pilots that provides INSTANT AUTHORIZATION for a licenced drone pilot, all from a simple app on our smartphones.
The program is called LAANC, or Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, and is operable through an application called Airmap. This has significantly reduced the headache involved in scheduling shoots where we use a drone within the controlled/restricted airspace adhered by the FAA and will be a useful asset for pitching new projects in the future.
What This Means for Your Videos
Well, as you’ve probably gathered, this is a huge step towards better production value for your videos. Future projects will have a chance to utilize this fantastic technology, and moments that were previously burdened by the legality of flying a drone while on-set are only going to become more achievable because we, as creators, are now free from any hesitation from flying in restricted airspace.
As happy as I am to report this news, this doesn’t mean that we can just go launching a drone over stadiums, at night, in National Parks, or for every occasion. The FAA still restricts many uses of a drone, including where there are large crowds or when the sun has set, and I am happy to walk through all of that knowledge with you if you’re interested.
Here’s some shots from when we’ve used a drone in a video.