It isn’t a life-saving application, but it is an additional step forward for drone regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that they have granted a Part 107 waiver to Columbus, OH advertising firm Civitasnow to fly the helium-filled Aerotain Skye tethered drone over people.
Swiss-based Aerotain says that the Aerotain Skye is not only marketing magic (the company claims that 97% of an audience remember the drone after an event) but also “the world’s safest drone for live entertainment.” The drone can be decorated in many ways (like the eyeball shown above) for branding purposes, and provides a live video feed during an event. Aerotain says that the drone is safe enough to allow audience members to touch it during flight.
“The Aerotain Skye resembles a tethered floating beach ball, but is technically an ‘aircraft,'” says the FAA announcement. “It carries a camera and small motors for propulsion. The Skye’s diameter is about 7.5 feet and it weighs about 14 lbs. deflated. The envelope is filled with helium.”
“There is no location limitation in the waiver, so Civitasnow can operate anywhere in uncontrolled airspace. An airspace authorization or waiver from the FAA is required for flights in controlled airspace, just as for any other drone operator.”
While the Skye is strictly for entertainment purposes, the FAA says that the waiver represents forward progress. “The Civistasnow waiver is part of the FAA’s continuing effort to expand drone operations in the nation’s airspace while reducing risks to public safety and security,” says the agency. The FAA has already granted media giant CNN a waiver to fly drone over people for the purpose of capturing news-related data.
With these first waivers granted in the media space, others may not be far behind. Tethered drones are frequently deployed for security and event monitoring purposes; applications which might also benefit from permission to fly over people.
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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