The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an industry group of 330 US ski resorts, has outlined a ban on recreational drones. The move comes after the missed October 1 deadline for the FAA’s release of official guidelines on drones. As the FAA has said that the regulations will not be ready for release until sometime in “late spring,” the industry association has put the ban in place to take effect for the coming ski season.
While the NSAA recommends a ban on hobbyist drones, it makes exceptions for those that could be used to assist in avalanche appraisal, search and rescue, or for lift and equipment maintenance. The outlined recommendations have resulted in resorts like Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain publishing drone policy statements on their websites. “Out of safety concerns for guests, employees, and resort property, Crested Butte Mountain Resort prohibits the operation of unmanned aerial systems, or aerial drones, by the general public, including recreational users and hobbyists, without prior written authorization from the Resort,” states the policy.
Not all resorts have entirely banned drones. Boyne Resorts, a chain of 10 ski areas, plans authorized “drone zones” which would allow consumer drone use after prior registration with the resort. The National Forest Service, which controls land used by 120 ski resorts in the US, including 21 of Colorado’s 24 resorts, is working with ski areas to develop drone policies as part of the resorts’ special use policy. The Forest Service’s proposed policy would give resorts permission to use drones for marketing and promotional events.
The ban on consumer drones is good news for CA startup Cape Productions. The drone video service, whose CEO holds an FAA 333 Exemption for commercial drone use, has announced a partnership with 9 ski resorts to provide professional drone footage to visitors during the coming season.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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