Movie Aerial Video Company Asks For Exemptions

Docket No.: No. FAA-2014-0352
Petitioner: Astraeus Aerial
Description of Relief Sought: Astraeus Aerial is seeking an exemption to operate commercially a small unmanned vehicle (55 lbs or less) in motion picture and television operations.

Exemptions sought:
Section of 14 CFR: part 21 (Certification), 45.23(b) (N number identification),61.113(a)(b) (flying for hire), 91.7(a), 91.9(b)(2) (Airworthiness), 91.103 (preflight, airport), 91.109 (dual controls), 91.119,91.121, 91.151(a), 91.203(a)(b), 91.405(a), 91.407(a)(1) (Airframe mechanic), 91.409(a)(2) (Annual Inspections), 91.417(a), and 91.417(b) (Maintenance records)

Comment submitted: (FAA Tracking Number: 1jy-8d1z-rqhu)

Approval of the Petition for Exemption for Astraeus Aerial should be granted for aerial photography and movie production limited to two years for movie production subject to the following provisions and restrictions:

1: Specific liability insurance coverage for remote aircraft operation shall be maintained.
2: Formal mandatory safety procedures shall be adopted and maintained to include marking and maintaining a restricted area excluding those not directly involved in operation of the remotely piloted aircraft and cameras. Those safety operations should exclude operating less than 50 feet over an open-air assembly of persons or over active railroads, roadways or highways.
3: Visual Line of Sight with the aircraft must be maintained by the Pilot In Control at all times. If VLOS cannot be maintained the aircraft must be immediately brought in and landed.
4: The Pilot In Control shall have passed an FAA “ground school” exam but shall not be required to hold a current pilot’s license or medical certificate.
5: No operation shall be above 400 ft or in any restricted airspace without specific prior clearance/approval from ATC for the location. A UAV flight plan filing may be required by the ATC so that a NOTAM may be issued.
6: An observer/spotter shall be required who is in direct communication with the Pilot In Command at all times. Communication may be by radio or by verbal communication within proximity to the Pilot In Command.
7: The remotely piloted aircraft must have automatic provision for Return To Base upon loss of remote control signal. Nothing in this restriction shall prohibit autonomous operation of the aircraft providing the Pilot In Command or UAV operator can regain direct control at any time during the automated flight.
8: The Pilot In Command must have available a (portable) transceiver capable of monitoring and communicating on aircraft frequencies (118.000 to 136.975 MHz.) if it becomes necessary.
9: At any time that the Pilot In Command must communicate with an aircraft in the area or Air Traffic Control, the transmission shall be identified by the letters “U A V” or “Unmanned Aircraft” followed by the name of the company conducting the video production. (AIM 4-2-4)
10: The Pilot In Control be in possession of a current sector map of the area of operation (paper or electronic) in at the time of flight and must be aware of restrictions and communication frequencies applicable for that location.
11: If the designated Pilot In Command lacks sufficient specific skills to operate the UAV being used the PIC may be in direct supervision of and be fully responsible for an operator who has sufficient skills for operating (flying) the specific UAV being used.
12: Such limited operating approval may be rescinded or suspended by the FAA or NTSB in the event of an accident or if there is cause to believe any of the stated provisions have not been met or maintained.

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There will be some who will take exception to #4 and the requirement for passing an FAA ground school written exam. That is because all indications point to such a requirement by the FAA.

All UAS operations for commercial or business purposes are subject to FAA regulation. At a minimum, any such flights require a certified aircraft and a certificated pilot. UAS operations for commercial or business purposes cannot be operated under the special rule for model aircraft found in section 336 of Public Law 112-95. (

And as we mentioned in a previous post here:

Check the last bullet point in the last part of section of the AVIATION SAFETY UNMANNED AIRCRAFT PROGRAM OFFICE AIR-160 Interim Operational Approval Guidance 08-01 (page 15):

For the PIC (Pilot IN Control) to be exempt from the pilot certificate requirement … the PIC must have successfully completed, at a minimum,FAA private pilot ground instruction, and have passed the written examination.

There are several other references to pilot certification requirements in various FAA documents related to UAV operation. That stipulation may be lessened at some point in the future, but it is quite clear that the FAA will find it can solve a number of its dilemmas with that requirement and those wishing to stay in the game had best be prepared.

See (FAA exam) and (Insurance required course) and (UAV insurance)