Drones at News and Media Companies: What to consider

April 11,2018

Media Companies: What to consider before using drones

On the surface drones appear to be a no brainer for the media and news industry. UAVs offer a a less expensive, faster to deploy, safer, and higher quality solution when compared to the traditional method of sending a manned helicopter to the scene to gather content. As drone technology continues to develop and drones become even more common in the national airspace, the value of drones for the media industry will only continue to grow.


But before any media or news company starts regularly operating drones, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Regulations
  • Planning/Process
  • Waivers

Regulations

Once you’ve decided that you want to start using drones as a tool for capturing content, you should acquaint yourself with all of the rules and regulations regarding commercially operating UAVs. The first place to look is Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Part 107 states all of the rules, regulations and requirements that the federal government require every commercial UAV pilot to follow. Along with the Federal Government's requirements, it is important to understand how all of the local municipalities, where you plan to operate, handle drone operations. In some cases a specific town may restrict the flight of drones over private property, which could severely hinder your plans to capture your crucial footage.


Planning

Planning is one of the most important and also one of the most overlooked parts of a successful drone program for news and media companies. Due to the on demand nature of covering breaking stories it can be challenging to have and execute a solid pre-flight plan. Every organization takes a different approach to their pre-flight planning but there are three key areas to cover:

  • Safety
    • Asses all potential risks prior to take off. Design a flight plan that both accomplishes your goal and minimizes your risk
    • Always establish an alternative emergency landing zone
  • Restrictions/Regulations
    • Based on your proposed flight location be sure that you are aware of all federal and local restrictions and regulations that may apply.
    • If necessary apply for any waivers (see below) that you may need
  • Equipment
    • No matter how much pre-flight planning you do, every drone operation can be grounded due to faulty or not having the right equipment.
    • Ensure all equipment is in operational order through both:
      • Visual inspection
      • Test flight

Waivers

If your flight operations need you to operate outside of the regulations outlined in Part 107 you may need to apply for a waiver in order to fly. As an example, flying directly over people who are not involved in your operation requires a waiver under Part 107. Because the waiver process can take time, it is important to apply for waivers as soon as you realize you need them. In order to receive a waiver from the FAA you’ll need to prove the steps that you take to ensure that you operate as safely as possible.


Commercial operators that can provide sufficient evidence of equivalent levels of safety can apply for permission to conduct the following types of operations:

  • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft
  • Night flights
  • Flying beyond visual line of sight
  • Alternate methods for use of a visual observer
  • One pilot operating multiple UAS at once
  • Not being required to yield right of way
  • Direct overflight of people
  • Operation in Class B, C, D, or E surface area airspace
  • Exceptions to certain sUAS operating limitations

Using drones for your organization

Though drones can radically change the way your company captures news/media, starting to use UAV technology isn’t a decision to take lightly. Leveraging a federally licensed commercial drone service provider for your aerial media needs can be the optimal solution. Your business receives all of the upside of having an aerial drone operation but without any of the challenges or risks. If you’d like to learn more about using drones at your company, contact us today.

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