The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded the first waiver for someone to fly drones over large crowds of people. The recipient of this waiver is probably not who you would expect to see receive one. If you had to guess who received it, then you probably wouldn’t have guessed that CNN is the recipient.
If there’s one good thing about this, it’s that CNN can now tell the truth about the size of the crowds at Trump events! Nothing like a great overhead shot from a fancy HD drone camera, right?
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.
It makes sense for places to access areas previously inaccessible in order to take photographs and videos of things people want/need to see. I can only imagine CNN getting caught up in something shady with this. You can bet they will be tempted to fly a drone outside the White House windows when Trump is sleeping and sneak some photos of documents. Knowing CNN, the media arm of the Democratic Party, they will try to crash a drone into Marine One while Trump is on board. There will definitely be someone getting in trouble when they do something inappropriate.
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.
Imagine there are a 100 drones flying above a large crowd and they’re all fighting for airspace, then they crash into each other, then they fall and land on the people below causing injuries or worse. This sounds like a recipe for disaster just waiting to happen.
“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.
It’s a critical step, but it’s also a step not necessary. Why do we need to fly drones over people? This opens the door for the overcrowded airspace, collisions, and drones landing on people.
Watching videos taken from drones is usually very cool, but I can’t imagine what it would be like when every news station has a drone and they’re all above our head at the same time and they just get annoying to people.
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.
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 FAA should have left the regulation alone so flights over people was still banned and injuries were not an option. Even though the Snap Drone has internal rotors and breaks apart, there’s still the possibility of a physical injury caused if the drone falls on someone. That then opens the door for lawsuits likely ending in expensive settlements and companies losing money, cutting jobs, and relying on whatever is left of their business to keep them in action.
What happens if someone flying a drone over a crowd is not from a news network? What if they commit a horrible crime that injures or kills people? Will the FAA rescind the waiver once something bad happens? If that’s the case, then why should they wait for the something bad to happen? Why not eliminate this waiver and realize it opens a Pandora’s box to potential evil doing.
I don’t think we need the waivers, licenses, or ability to fly drones overhead. That seems like too much risk and an extremely high level of responsibility. I wouldn’t want someone flying a drone over my head, nor the heads of an entire crowd.
Everything about this sounds like a disaster in the making. Someone will take advantage of it and hide their illegal drone in with a crowd of news drones. Then someone bad will happen. Then people will ban drones. Then we’ll be back at square one and realizing the FAA should not have permitted this waiver to go into action.
I really cannot think of a news event, over people, that would require drone coverage shooting footage from the air. Flying a drone into the California wild fires would provide helpful reconnaissance and footage that we could not get otherwise. Flying drones into disasters in hopes to find people or gain helpful imagery for first responders makes sense, but flying them over people just seems a bit off.
The video below may be the appropriate response to CNN’s drones.