FAA: Drones Are Okay For Hollywood, But Not Okay For Sports
from the huh? dept
We remain absolutely baffled by the FAA’s bizarre rules about drones. As we’ve noted, the FAA has said that you can use drones for fun, but if it in any way involves profit, it’s not allowed. So you can use a drone to take photographs from the sky for personal use, but if you’re a real estate agent trying to do a flyover of a house you’re trying to sell, that’s illegal. And while some people still claim that drone use should be limited so they don’t interfere with airplanes, that doesn’t seem to (even remotely) be the concern here, otherwise the personal use of drones would be barred too.
But it’s getting even more bizarre. Now, it seems that anyone who wants to use drones in anything close to an innovative way has to first go beg the FAA for permission. And the permission is sometimes given and sometimes withheld. Compare these two stories. The University of Michigan wanted to use drones to deliver the game ball before kickoff of a football game, but the FAA nixed the request. It’s not at all clear why. This was for a sporting event, and it would just be for fun. It’s hard to see how the use was “commercial” other than the fact that college football is big business. Meanwhile, compare that to the fact that the FAA is apparently granting permission to Hollywood to use drones to film things:
In May, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions (known as a 333 exemption) that would allow the film and television industry to use drones with FAA approval. Those seven companies and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), were asked by the FAA to develop the guidelines and safety procedures under which they planned to operate. The FAA reviewed those procedures and is expected to approve the drone-specific rules and standards that will enable Hollywood to be exempt from existing aviation regulations.
Of course, the report from Forbes notes, this actually took four years of back and forth with the FAA to get to this point.
We’ve talked for a while about the concept of permissionless innovation and why it’s important to keep the velocity of innovation moving forward at a rapid pace. Adding in this layer of bizarre, arbitrary and ridiculously slow regulation, and you’re slowing down that pace. And while some say “does that really matter” for something as silly as flying drones, as we’ve noted, it’s entirely possible that drones can create some amazingly powerful societal shifts. But each bit of “permission” needed along the way slows down that process and limits our ability to innovate and to adapt and adjust and learn.