Filed Under:Risk Management, Cybersecurity

CNN awarded first FAA waiver allowing drone flights over crowds

The FAA currently prohibits drone flights overhead, although its regulations allow for waivers if applicants can show there’s no risk of injury.  (Photo: Bloomberg)
The FAA currently prohibits drone flights overhead, although its regulations allow for waivers if applicants can show there’s no risk of injury. (Photo: Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- CNN received a waiver allowing routine drone flights above crowds, a milestone for the industry seeking greater use of the remote-controlled devices for everything from insurance inspections to covering news.

Flights over people


The approval is the first time the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has granted a waiver for unlimited flights over people, the news network said in an emailed statement. The standards used in the application can be applied to other applicants, potentially opening vast new uses by the media and other industries for so-called unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.

Related: Surge in drone safety reports prompts `emergency' action at FAA

“This waiver signifies a critical step forward not only for CNN’s UAS operations, but also the commercial UAS industry at large,” said David Vigilante, senior vice president of legal for CNN.

The FAA currently prohibits drone flights overhead, although its regulations allow for waivers if applicants can show there’s no risk of injury. Limited waivers have been issued to filmmakers and others for flights over contained areas after those on the ground consented.

Snap drone designed to break apart to prevent injuries


The small device that was approved, a Snap drone, has internal rotors and is designed to break apart in the event of a crash to prevent injuries. Time Warner Inc.’s CNN and Vantage Robotics, the company that built it, say they spent two years designing and testing the drone.

The Snap drone weighs 1.37 pounds (0.62 kilograms), and its four rotors are encased to reduce the chances of injury. It’s designed to break into harmless smaller pieces if it crashes, according to the company’s website. It can be snapped back together and reused after a crash, according to the company.

Related: Who’s allowed to shoot at drones?

Copyright 2017 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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