Weekly News Digest for September 14, 2014

Drones with cameras: A billion-dollar business? (9/10/2014)


This article addresses the economic potential of drones associated with video production. The article centers around a former marine, Patrick Smith who has started a business constructing drones that can carry a variety of cameras. The drones and associated camera equipment range in price from $700 to upwards of $30,000 depending on features. The drones manufactured by Smith’s company, Aerial Media Pros, are being used by companies ranging from Google to Space X to John Deere. Smith notes that the company already brings in more than $700,000 in gross revenue. Towards the end of the article, Smith states that he expects the company to continue growing despite looming federal regulations and that he believes that the company may one day be worth more than one billion dollars.


FAA allows drone to search for missing Texas woman (9/10/2014)



This article and the associated press release from the Federal Aviation Administration describe the issuance of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization to Texas EquuSearch for the utilization of unmanned aerial systems in the search for a Texas woman who has been missing since August 30th. The FAA’s press release and the article note that although the FAA has tangled with Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit that utilizes drones in the search for missing persons, in the past, the exception was made in this case due the dangers associated with equivalent manned missions and the extreme urgency with which this operation must be conducted due to the high probability of loss of life. The press release also notes that exceptions akin to this one are only made to organizations or individuals possessing an unmanned aerial system with a valid airworthiness certificate.


NASA aims for air traffic control system for commercial drones (9/11/2014)


This article describes efforts by NASA to develop an air traffic control equivalent that could govern drones while in flight. The article notes that once FAA guidelines governing the commercial use of drones, it is likely that many companies will take advantage of the new technology. Therefore, it will be important for the there to exist a program that will help to prevent mid-air collisions and mitigate damage to people or property on the ground. A NASA representative quoted in the article describes that, under the envisioned system, drone pilots would file a flight plan with the governing body to ensure that their planned flight does not conflict with any previous or proceeding flight paths. Though the new system is unlikely to see deployment for several years, NASA, the FAA, and private companies agree that if drones are ever to see widespread use, some sort of airspace control mechanism will need to be put in place.