Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a drone taking video!


By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Relations, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
 
The kid in me says it would be really cool to have a drone to play around with. While I’ve never really been into remote control airplanes or helicopters, drones just seem to take things to a new level and look like a lot of fun.

As an amateur photographer, using a drone would certainly open up some interesting possibilities and provide a different camera perspective.

As a former news reporter, I can see drones as the next great tool in the ever-changing news business.

But I’m still a little uneasy about the idea of a drone hovering overhead when I’m out and about. This past summer I noticed one hovering overhead at an event in downtown Green Bay and also spotted one at a local high school football game.

Now the Federal Aviation Administration. (FAA) is working on rules that would govern drone use, including the use of drones for news reporting. While the actual Notice of Proposed Rule Making hasn’t been published yet, the FAA has released a fact sheet that outlines where the rules appear to be heading.

A NiemanLab report says the highlights include:

  • A requirement for drone operators to take an FAA knowledge test
  • Drone pilots will have to be “vetted” by the Transportation Security Administration
  • All journalism drones will have to be registered with the FAA
  • Basic operating limitations: day flight only and only within the sight of the operator
  • The drone cannot fly over someone who’s not directly involved in the operation
  • Air traffic control permission will be needed in certain areas

Even with those restrictions and requirements, Matt Waite, in his NeimanLab piece, indicates that…“This is the most hopeful I’ve been about the prospects for drone journalism in quite some time.” He goes on to say…“The vast majority of envisioned news purposes are all possible within this framework.”

But drone journalism is just one potential use for the flying machines. Consider also the possibility of the local delivery of goods, filmmaking, deliveries of important support items to remote areas, and the list goes one. In fact, the FAA estimates that the commercial drone industry could grow to $90 billion over the next 10 years, if the rules allow.

What do you think? Should drones be allowed for fast food deliveries or news reporting? Are you concerned about drones flying overhead?
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