CNN Approved to Fly Drones Over Crowds

The FAA is slowly changing its position on drones in a recent special wavier that was granted to CNN for use of drones over large crowds.

Here are the big points in this ruling:

  • The drones do not have to be tethered as previously required.

  • Max altitude is increased to 150 feet from 21 feet. 
  • Flight is permitted regardless of population density. 

FAA’s change in stance is attributable to special circumstances of CNN. For instance, the specific model of drone being used and a culture of organizational safety. However, this “reasonableness approach” sets a precedent for other applicants. Other networks and news outlets may follow suit and request waivers as well. Needless to say we could have several drones flying in close proximity to one another over a crowd in the near future. It will be interesting to see how its decided who gets to fly and when. Will it be first dibs, or a free for all?

It will also be interesting to see if drone manufacturers design drones specifically suited for media use versus the standard DJI Mavic Pros or Sparks flying above. The Vantage Robotics Snap Drone with its propeller guards are one of the safety features I’m sure the FAA took into account while reviewing CNN’s waiver. Time will tell how much use drones receive as a tool for media coverage.

[via techcrunch]

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Spy Black's picture

Just think Ford Pinto. When Ford engineers told top brass the Pinto needed to be redesigned because rear impact could cause the gas tank to explode, the bean counters concluded that it was cheaper to pay off injury and death lawsuits than to redesign the car. The rest, as they say, is history.

We live in the age of Corporate Imperialism. Whatever corporations want, corporations get...

Simon Patterson's picture

Guess that makes Casey Neistat's flying legal from now on...

Paulo Macedo's picture

FAA, NSA, CIA, GVT, Fire Department from Saint Rat Under, they all change their rules to those who have the greenies to show.
CNN has the dough, the law just have to bow.
We, normal people will never change rules, because they are not meant to be changed by us, but by the lobbies and companies with enough weight to actually talk directly to those who are in charge.
I don't see FAA, or even in my country the NAV Portugal, changing it's rules just because i go there and ask politely, but if a big company here asks them to open a window, they will. What we will start seeing are biased laws, where the big fish can go through and the small can't.
Pretty simple.

Craig Staples's picture

Why does this seem less like an article about the FAA drone laws and CNN and more like a subtle ad for the Vantage Snap Drone, as it is the only one with a link and it isn't even available except to preorder.

More and more the articles on fstoppers are becomeing advertising rather than informative.

just my thoughts

John Boulder CO Photographer's picture

Yea, because that's not an accident waiting to happen.