Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Companies Get Drone Filming Permits

By Business Journal Staff Thursday, September 25, 2014

Two local aerial photography companies are among six the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday approved to use drones for film and television production.

Pictorvision Inc., in Van Nuys and Astraeus Aerial, in Encino, filed for an exemption with the FAA in May to use unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace on movie and television sets for the first time ever.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx determined the aircraft the companies plan to use pose no threat to national airspace users and would not require an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness. Getting those certificates is a lengthy process typically followed by makers of new full-sized aircraft.

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight,” Foxx said in a prepared statement.

The FAA has been working the past two years on rules that would allow commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the U.S. The agency has a Sept. 30, 2015, deadline to fully integrate drones of all sizes into the national airspace.

In June the agency gave approval for the first commercial use of a drone when BP Exploration Inc. in Alaska had a Puma AE, made by Monrovia’s AeroVironment Inc., fly over the Prudhoe Bay oilfield.

In their exemption petitions, Pictorvision and Astraeus Aerial said they would operate only small drones weighing no more than 55 pounds, fly the aircraft within the line of sight of the pilot and/or an observer, and operate no higher than 400 feet in altitude.

The other aerial photography or video production companies receiving exemptions are RC Pro Production Consulting, in Huntington Beach; Aerial Mob LLC, in San Diego; Snaproll Media LLC, in Nashville; and HeliVideo Productions LLC, in Austin, Texas.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the Washington, D.C. advocacy group for the entertainment industry, supported the companies in their exemption requests.