FAA Allows Commercial Drones for Ski Videos to Fly Closer to People

Commercial drones for ski videos

In recent years, if you wanted to make a ski video while riding at the mountain, you’d have to buy or rent a GoPro and attach it to your helmet. While this provides a rider’s perspective, the video can be shaky and doesn’t give justice to the overwhelming beauty around the skier, or to their skills.

Cape Productions, a San Francisco drone startup, has been filming skiers using commercial drones for over a year, largely in Canada where drone flight restrictions aren’t as strict as in the US. Typically, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires commercial drones to stay at least 500 feet from people that aren’t associated with the flight as a safety precaution. Cape recently received FAA approval to fly without a minimum distance between drones and the skiers they’re recording. Previously, this access was only granted to aerial photographers on closed movie sets.

Opening Up the Value of Commercial Drones

Through January 15, 2016, the FAA has approved 3,012 special permits while developing comprehensive rules for the industry. Cape Productions may be the first of its kind to receive this exception, however many companies are excited about the FAA’s ruling as it opens up the value of commercial drones to a variety of applications.

Safety First

One of the FAA’s biggest concerns with commercial drone operation is safety. The FAA is concerned with the safety of people and given Cape Productions’ proven safety record in Canada, they have taken this into consideration when granting this exemption.

  • The Cape team put drones through a multitude of tests to ensure maximum safety
  • According to Louis Gresham, president of Cape Productions, they have a 100% safety record to date across thousands of flights around the world
  • If a drone loses connection with its operator, it will hover in place
  • If the battery runs low, the drone is programmed to automatically land in a specific area
  • Drones typically fly at least 30 feet off the ground and at least 15-20 feet to the side of the skier
  • Cape briefs customers about the risks involved and how the drones flies during the run

With the FAA granting Cape Productions this exemption to use commercial drones for ski videos, it’s exciting news for the industry. The industry at large can point to Cape as a model as the FAA comes to a decision on the government’s first set of drone regulations, to be announced this summer.

Photo Credit: Sky High Media


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